Superyacht Design

News: Revisiting Superyacht Elena : The Return of an Era

September 1, 2009 by Superyacht Design
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History repeats itself, and sooner or later, we find ourselves living a page out of a history book. Rewinding the time back to 1928, the 137-foot Superyacht Elena made its grand entry at the 3.411 miles King’s Cup Trans-Atlantic Race for the King’s Cup from New York to Santander. Fast-forwarding the time to present, scene is the same and so is the yacht design, History repeats itself! Superyacht Elena, an old player, has been replicated and re-planned by Factoria Naval de Marin. With the old design and new technology, the sister racing yacht is soon to make a history once again.

In the first place, resurrecting the old stallion was a daunting task and definitely a challenging one. The engineers and designers had to go through hundreds of hand-drawn plans donated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, and myriad of resources from the Herreshoff Design Office located in Bristol.

But some how the engineers didn’t find them satisfactory and thus they painstakingly went through all the historic images of Elena, studied them to ensure that each and every details were precisely replicated to near perfection. The details engineers mainly concentrated on included her towering wooden masts and sail plan. Moreover, the designers also planned to replicate her beautiful classic styled interior.

The History of the Legend

The construction of the original yacht started in the fall of 1910, when Morton Plant placed an order with the Herreshoff Construction Company for a new yacht. The company wanted a sure-shot winner, in the shortest possible time. At that time, the finest racing yacht was S/Y Westward that Herreshoff itself had built the year before. Till that time, westward was like an unconquerable enemy for its competitors. It was a benchmark yacht that swept the field at every race she took part in her first year racing and, with continued success, became one of the most famous and successful racing schooners of all time.

It is to note that, Elena and Westward were absolutely identical above the water line. However, below the waterline, Elena was given a slightly fuller keel that lowered her center of ballast and improved her windward ability. Then it was in 1911, that Superyacht Elena was launched. The racing circuits after that saw two similar yachts competing each other head-to-head. Elena won many races against the best of the American schooner fleet, several of which included competing against the Westward.

Elena did successful racing for 17 long years and then cruised in American waters with distinguished owners such as Cornelius Vanderbilt and William B. Bell. But then there was something more stored for her. In 1928, when Elena won the King’s Cup Trans-Atlantic Race which took place from New York to Santander, Spain. It was this moment of fame that marked her in the pages of history.

Fast forwarding to Present

In 2009, when the designers and engineers were presented with the challenge of building a new classic schooner, they couldn’t think of any name other than Elena. In this way, the Superyacht Elena Project was initiated. Ed Kastelein, who already had an experience of building a similar yacht in 2002, Superyacht Eleonora, initiated the task quite confidently. In 2005 and 2006 Eleonora, the extremely faithful replica of Westward, raced very successfully in the classic circuit. It was Eleonara that served as the driving inspiration for Elena Project.

The Future Plan

The superyacht is almost complete and will make her debut at the Antigua Classics in April 2010. From there, it will sail back across the Atlantic to participate in the regattas in Italy and France and a full charter season in the Mediterranean.

But it wouldn’t be an easy scene at the racing circuit. Elena will be racing hard against her historic rivals, classic regattas such as the Antigua Classics, Monaco Classic Week and Les Voiles de Saint Tropez. It will also provide chartering services in the world’s most exotic locations ranging from the Caribbean, the British Isles, and the Baltic to the Mediterranean Sea.
On board Elena

The first thing that strikes about Elena is her 1,200 square meters gleaming white sails. Stacked with both beauty and grace under sail the yacht also promises an uncompromising, blistering speed. By no doubt, the yacht will provide a unique experience, only for an elite group of people.

The design of Elena is perfectly suited for her dual role as a grand prix racer and a modern luxury charter yacht. The yacht comprises of wide, clear teak decks designed to facilitate easy sail handling and also carefree lounging for charter guests while resting in one of the many secluded anchorages.

The yacht features an exquisite handcrafted teak table, which can be meant for al fresco dining while enjoying a beautiful view. At the below levels, the yacht provides relaxing places for the guests, with privacy and cool comfort, not to forget the non compromising luxury of fully air-conditioned cabins.

The yacht also features sophisticated recreational facilities. The state of-the-art audio/video systems in the cabins and main saloon provide the guests with all the facilities for enjoying music and movies. Elena’s comprises of a crew carrying capacity of eight members, which ensure pleasure and comfort with unconditional hospitality.

The original plan of Elena was drawn by Herreshoff in 1911.This plan was tested through a purpose-made computer program. To everyone’s surprise it was found that the design was best as it could be, with no additional space for both strength and lightness. But the design had to be improved anyhow, keeping in mind the contemporary racing scenario. After calculating hundreds of situations in every conceivable weather circumstance and applying those circumstances to every possible sail combination, the modeling results could only substantiate but not improve on his calculations. As nothing could be achieved, it was decided that the spares would be made according to the original design.

For the material, Oregon Pine was decided for Elena’s lower spars and booms. For her upper masts, gaff ’s, jack yards and spinnaker boom, finest quality Alaskan Sitka Spruce were selected. A new thing that Elena will be fitted with are booms, which will be constructed of 16 staves instead of the more customary eight, which will provide a much stiffer and lighter boom despite thinner wall thicknesses. The whole construction process will be done by modern, hi-tech machinery.


Without doubt, Elena is an extravagant and a luxurious yacht. The accommodation is specifically designed to assure maximum comfort and privacy for her guests as well as a high level of efficiency for her permanent crew. The yacht’s layout flaunts a traditional feel with Herreshoff ’s original style and advanced technological equipments.

The yacht offers spacious accommodation for up to 10 guests in 3 double and 2 twin cabins. The cabins are exquisitely finished with raised and fielded classic mahogany paneling and all interior ornamental details are meticulously made from original Herreshoff drawings. The beautiful varnished mahogany panels are accentuated by white painted ceilings and ceiling beams.
The yacht’s en-suite bathrooms feature separate showers and toilets and are finished with elegant, period correct fittings. Massive hanging and cupboard space with an abundance of natural light through the overhead skylights as well as three portholes to every cabin and four in the owner’s cabin ensures the most sophisticated yacht interior ever.

Moreover, on the port side at the foot of the main companionway, the yacht consists of an owner’s stateroom with a double berth, an office sized desk, separate seating for 2 and an extra large bathroom.
Each cabin also has its own privately controlled air conditioning system as well as a CD player with invisible speakers hidden in the paneling and a television. The full width saloon offers a spacious dining area to port with fixed seating for 10 guests and a lounge area to starboard with comfortable settee’s, table, bookshelves and a large television as well as a CD/DVD system.

The captain’s cabin, just forward of the steering position, has its own private access from deck and is adjoining the state-of-the-art navigation and communication center. The cabin is appropriately located immediately below the companionway to facilitate direct contact between the navigator and helmsman during racing or cruising. Moreover, the captain’s cabin also has its own en suite shower and toilet and a day head and shower for crew use, during sailing or racing. On the port side, there is a small, single cabin that can be used by the captain if the charter party requires a 5th cabin.

The Four cabins features a total of eight berths, each with their own shower and heads. Moreover, they also comprise of spacious crew mess with television, CD/DVD system, separate crew companionway to deck and access to the storage area with large freezers and food storage, washing machine, driers and the engine room.
Thus, Superyacht Elena is a reflection of both past and present, which provides utmost yachting style and glamour with complementary technology.

Marin LuxurYachts

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