While many of the Tall Ships taking part in this year’s Tall Ships Races have taken part before, for one vessel the event will be a first.
Many people will remember seeing the Dutch brigantine Swan fan Makkum at many Tall Ships Races over the years but following her sale to the Italian navy, her owner Captain Willem Sligting turned his sights on a new project. His aim was to build a fast, classic schooner from a historic hull and enter her into Tall Ships Races.
Tragically Willem was killed in an accident last year so never got a chance to see his dream come alive, but finally Wylde Swan will join the rest of the fleet in Antwerp to take part for the first time.
Wylde Swan started out life in 1920 as a German steam trawler but when Willem first saw Jemo (as she was then called) in 1999 he saw the most beautiful counter stern he’d ever come across. The vessel had been built for speed as she had to go out into the North Atlantic to catch herring and bring them back to harbour as fast as possible to obtain the best price.
The original 116ft hull had been lengthened to 133ft in 1925 and then requisitioned by the Norwegian navy and in 1949 Jemo was sold privately to continue earning her living from catching herring. It was during one herring catching voyage, Jemo was photographed in Lerwick at the same quay where Swan fan Makkum lay alongside during the 1999 Tall Ships Races.
With her long run aft, sharp entry and round bilges, Wylde Swan has the lines of a fast sailing vessel. A tall schooner rig, with overlapping schooner sail, long-boomed main, gaff top sails and an overall length including bowsprit of some 200ft, makes the most of this potential.
Since participation in The Tall Ships Races is to be a prime activity of Wylde Swan, trainees can find hammocks below to get to grips with the genuine old salts’ lifestyle. Another advantage of hammocks is that they can be taken away to clear the space for receptions, seminars etc., to let the schooner earn her keep as floating classroom, reception room or even wedding room. In order not to shy older trainees away from the spartan, character building accommodation for youngsters, Wylde Swan also has luxuriously appointed staterooms.
Willem Sligting would have been very proud of his creation and after her first trip out, Sligting’s widow, Hinke de Vries said she was doing exceptionally well under sail, easy to steer and fast. It seems likely that Wylde Swan will prove to be a formidable competitor in The Tall Ships Races - regular participants and winners need to watch their backs!
will be joining 87 other Tall Ships to take part in The Tall Ships Races 2010. While her berths are now full for the races, her deck space is available to rent for corporate hospitality. For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Wylde Swan is so new that there are still no photos of her!