March / April 2024


Recovering and sailing a Swedish legend from 1901


With a waterline length of under 30’ (8.94m) and an overall length of 50’4” (15.38m), ESTER was designed to take best advantage of the waterline-based yacht-racing measurement rules of her times. Her mahogany handrails, extending from stem to stern, act as inboard bulwarks as much as grabrails, but they also strengthen the extremely lightweight hull.

Classic boats can hook owners with their history. Such a boat is ESTER, a fast Swedish racing sloop from 1901 that dominated Baltic Sea yachting for several years before the First World War. And such an owner is Bo Eriksson, a classic-boat sailor. He and the boat found each other even though she had been at the bottom of the Baltic at a depth of 170' (52m) for 76 years. After a recovery and restoration effort that was as massive as it was unlikely, she is sailing again today.

Her extreme “racing saucer” hull, 50'4" LOA with a waterline length of just 29'4", is from an era when designers such as W. Starling Burgess in the United States and Charles Sibbick in England were pushing the envelope of what could be achieved with the materials available at the time to beat a waterline-based yacht racing measurement rule. Fin keels and rudders were attached to extremely lightweight racing machines that might only last a season or two. Weighing just 3.7 metric tons (8,157 lbs), 1.5 of which (3,307 lbs) were in her lead-bulb ballast keel, ESTER was designed by the Swedish naval architect Gunnar Mellgren to beat Finland in the coveted Tivoli Cup, which she did in the year of her launching. In one subsequent season, she won all 29 races that she entered.

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