When Shamrock V was launched in 1930 she was the first yacht to be built under the J Class rules created one year before.
Inspired by the works of Nathanael Herreschoff, the J Class ensured that all sailing yachts competing in the Americas Cup had identical characteristics. It also marked the replacement of the gaff rig by the bermudian rig. Since the J Class measurements also took account of hull thickness, it led to sleeker and more harmonious yachts, like the Shamrock V, designed to allow Sir Thomas Lipton to fulfil his dream of winning the Americas Cup. Unfortunately for the Irish sailor, this fifth Shamrock designed by Charles Nicholson and built by Campers & Nicholson did not suffice for him to bring home the famous silver ewer.
A new start
After Sir Thomas Lipton’s death in 1931, Shamrock V changed hands several times and underwent major restoration work in 1967. She returned to land in 1999 at the Pendennis shipyard in Falmouth, where her sails and lines were replaced. Since her re-launch in April 2000, she has been sailing the seven seas, particularly the Mediterranean in 2005, cruising from Corsica to Greece before setting sail for the Monaco Classic Week where she was joined by two other J Classes, Velsheda and Ranger. After Monaco, Shamrock V heads for the Régates Royales in Cannes and then on to Saint Tropez, before enjoying a well-earned rest in Genoa this winter.
It was September 15th 2005 in the port of Monaco, and the J Class’s grand old lady was an impressive sight, with her legendary green 36-metre hull gleaming in the sunshine and her impressive winches on the long teak deck. As we headed for the regatta zone, the crew fell silent and unfurled the mainsail, foresail and jib. We crossed the start line for thirty minutes of beating leg manoeuvres. With six knots of wind, the boat advanced calmly at nearly four knots. The manoeuvres were performed in silence and the captain tacked all of Shamrock V‘s 148 tons from one side to the other without difficulty. On board, each crew member knew their role by heart and, skilfully steered, the boat slid easily across the calm sea. Together, these classic yachts from the belle époque performed a spectacular ballet.
Delightful sailing, despite light winds
The wind was too light to reach the leeward buoy so we returned to the port of Monaco, enjoying the pure pleasure of sailing and crossing paths with the other yachts. Captain Georges called the turns and the crew responded quickly to his orders before returning to their various occupations. Bruce, Matt and Will would settle down at the bow to await the next manoeuvre, Cathy and Wendy took care of the passengers and their suntans, Scott furled the huge mainsheet again and the cook Bertrand disappeared down into the galley. In this calm and serene atmosphere, Shamrock V headed for port in the competent hands of her calm and respectful crew, gaining speed and leaving a fine wake behind her as the wind picked up. Elegant and sturdy, the racing yacht radiated an incredible sense of power perceptible to passengers and spectators alike.
At last the legendary yacht with her long silhouette joined her counterparts already in the port. Although the day’s sailing was over, we all still felt a delightful and enduring sense of wellbeing.
– NG –