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Meet ‘Shenandoah of Sark,’ a 122-Year Old 180-Foot Sailing Yacht

Meet ‘Shenandoah of Sark,’ a 122-Year Old 180-Foot Sailing Yacht

Meet ‘Shenandoah of Sark,’ a 122-Year Old 180-Foot Sailing Yacht

The 180-foot Shenandoah of Sark is one of the world’s best preserved classic topsail schooners. Built by New York shipyard Townsend and Downey in 1902, it has survived two world wars, circumnavigated the world three times, and is still revered 122 years after its delivery.

The sailing yacht’s design was heavily inspired by Meteor III, which was under construction at the same shipyard for Kaiser Wilhelm II. Shenandoah began life as a three-masted topsail schooner, though the topsails were removed during subsequent refits and rebuilds.

In 1972, Ballpoint pen magnate, Baron Marcel Bich, rescued the yacht from the French authorities, who had left it to rot for a decade following an unpaid tax scandal. Bich oversaw the boat’s first major restoration, returned her name to Shenandoah, and made her available for charter for the first time.

Modifications over the decades have included the installation of engines—at first gas engines under the ownership of Sir John Esplen at the end of World War One, and later two diesel Lugger engines of 500 hp each, which give the yacht a top speed of 12 knots.

Traveling under sail remains what Shenandoah does best. It was built as a global cruising yacht, though its ability to excel in stiff winds and whitecaps has led to success on the competitive regatta circuit. “When we’ve got flat seas and strong wind, this boat really lifts her skirts,” Captain Russell Potter, who first joined Shenandoah as a deckhand straight out of school in 2002, tells Robb Report.

When Covid hit in 2019, the current owners spent three months aboard with their dogs in Croatia and Greece. After a 24-year tenure, they are looking for the next custodian to take on the reigns of this majestic old lady.

Here are 9 things you didn’t know about one of the world’s most beloved classic sailing yachts.

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