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Eilean, yacht vintage

Designed by the famous naval architect William Fife more than eighty years ago, this elegant sailboat acquired by Panerai has returned to the sea, thanks to a restoration carried out according to the rules of the art.

Rare are the exceptional ships like Eilean that have come down to us. This 1936 ketch was built by one of the most prestigious shipyards of the time, Fife & Son, founded in 1807 in Scotland, on the banks of the Clyde. Specializing in yachts since 1848, the family business was famous for the quality of its boats, which combined flawless construction, remarkable balance and racy elegance, and built its reputation by winning numerous regattas. William Fife III continued to develop the know-how inherited from his predecessors by becoming one of the greatest naval architects of his time. A supplier to crowned heads and tycoons of industry and commerce, he designed America’s Cup yachts as well as cruise ships. He was responsible for the design of Eilean, whose name means “little island” in Gaelic.

The yacht was commissioned by brothers James V. and Robert W. Fulton, wealthy metal merchants and members of the Royal Gourock Yacht Club, to sail along the western coast of Scotland… This beautiful two-masted ship might have disappeared if it hadn’t caught the eye of Angelo Bonati, CEO of Panerai, who acquired it in 2006. Known for its luxury watches, the Florentine company, which has been the exclusive supplier to the Italian Navy for decades, is also famous for the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge. It took three years of restoration, involving 40,000 hours of work, for the craftsmen at the Francesco Del Carlo shipyard in Viareggio to restore the yacht to its former glory. Since her inauguration in 2009, Eilean has returned to racing. Recently moored in Venice, off the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, on the occasion of Homo Faber – an event celebrating the best of craftsmanship – she should soon be back at sea for new adventures…

Sophie Reyssat