The King’s yacht replica gets an overhaul
On King George V’s death in January 1936, the late king left instructions that his famous J class racing yacht, Britannia was to ‘follow him to the grave’.
Stripped of all her spars and fittings, the elegant old racing yacht was towed out from Cowes and sunk off St Catherine’s Deep, somewhere west of Ventnor and south of the Needles, on July 1st. The remains of her hull are there to day, in a deep watery grave. Nobody is supposed to know the exact location, though fishermen from the island report having snagged nets on her.
A replica of her hull was built, between 1993 and 2009 at a shipyard in the Russian port of Arkhangelsk, inside the Arctic Circle, and financed by a Norwegian magnate. Since then she has overwintered in northern Norway, until in January she was brought west and south to Cowes, and arrived on the 4th February.
K1 Britannia’s plan is to complete the building work at Cowes, including fitting new deck hardware, installing a new interior, and fitting a mast, rigging and sails, engines and generators. The aim is to use her for a whole range of projects, activities, and charitable projects around the world.
Stefano Faggioni is to act as chief interior designer, with the aim of making the interior of the new Britannia look as much like the original as possible, but with modern amenities.
The reconstruction team is now seeking sponsors to design and build each item that was on board the original Britannia, and have launched a Kickstarter campaign.
The rewards for pledging to the project will range from original sketches and blueprints to rigging blocks, crew clothing, beautiful landing mats and oil paintings by world-renowned marine artists. The rewards at the higher end include experiences aboard the finished Britannia on sailing days during her first regattas in Monaco, Cannes, the UK and Caribbean, where she will race for charity. There’s even the opportunity to dine aboard Britannia with her Captain and Officers.
The reconstruction process will be documented and filmed, and during the works a live webcam will stream continuous images from the dockyard.
Britannia is now being stripped and prepared for her refit at Venture Quays in East Cowes. On completion in 15 months’ time she will be launched with an overall length of 52m and a staggeringly tall 55m mast, the tallest wooden mast in the world!