The iconic 1963 S&S Kialoa II drew quite a crowd in Plymouth after the Rolex Fastnet Race, we took a tour

Without question one of the yachts that attracted the most lingering glances on the busy pontoons of Plymouth Yacht Haven at the Rolex Fastnet Race village last week was Kialoa II, the famous 1963 S&S design.

The languid, elegant lines of the 72-footer drew plenty of comments about being ‘a proper yacht’, while experienced racing sailors could often be spotted examining the hefty deck gear and explaining to younger crews how things were done in the days before retractable poles and asymmetrics.

Kialoa II was sailed in the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race by her current owners, brothers Paddy and Keith Broughton. Paddy described the race as an ‘absolute hoot’, with Kialoa’s long waterline length helping eat up the miles on the upwind early stages before her considerable sail plan, bolstered by a mizzen staysail, saw them fly back from the Rock to finish in just over four days.

“In straight lines she goes fantastically,” commented Broughton. “Where there’s a fetch, and you’ve got a reasonable amount of breeze but not so much that other boats can get up and plane, the waterline line length really comes into its own.

“She leans over a little bit, puts all those beautiful lines in the water all the way from the long bow to the transom and just charges! We were doing steadily 10-11 knots for ours on end and it was wonderful.”

The team included stalwarts from the campaigns such as the famous Aussie maxi Brindabella, including navigator Lindsay May, who has over 40 Sydney-Hobart Races to his name.

Kialoa II was one of the very first aluminium yachts, and was built of aircraft grade metal for legendary owner Jim Kilroy in 1964. She entered most of the major ocean races, as recounted in Kilroy’s famous autobiography, Dare to Win. Victories included winning class in the Transpac Race in 1965, a year after her launch. She was also first home in the punishing 1971 Sydney-Hobart Race, a year which saw the fleet beating for much of the 600-mile course to Tasmania. Her previous attempt at the Fastnet, in 1969, saw her cross the line 2nd, to take 5th overall. Unlike the later Kialoa yachts, Kialoa II also cruised many of the world’s oceans.

Originally a sloop, she was reconfigured with a trim tab and mizzen mast in 1967, and races today with a very similar sail plan arrangement to the days when she would have been skippered by Kilroy.

Kialoa II’s sail and keel developments for famous racer Jim Kilroy Photo: ELWJ Photography

The Broughtons bought Kialoa II just over a year ago, and have worked on bringing her back to racing spec with experts such as Hugh Welbourn. One of the earliest things they realised on sail trials was that the yacht, which has deep, deep bilges, pitches fiendishly unless sailed with full fuel and water tanks.

Much of the original deck gear remains, including twin two-speed Barient coffee grinder pedestals with foot clutches and a metal chain uphaul on the inboard end of her mighty spinnaker pole.

While the original ‘Magnetron’, a forerunner of today’s microwave ovens, is no longer in the galley, the yacht’s unique gimbaled serving counter remains. It was used to full effect by the Broughtons’ crew, who enjoyed a full roast dinner served from her vintage galley on their trip around the Rock.

Kialoa II’s original gimballed serving counter Photo: ELWJ Photography

They now plan to sail her in some of the classic ocean races that Kilroy competed in, starting with a delivery sail down to Australia for the 2017 Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race starting on Boxing Day. The plan is to set off from the UK for Cape Town, before heading across to Albany, Western Australian, letting the 53-year-old design stretch her legs in the southern Indian Ocean. In doing so Kialoa II would join an elite group of yachts which have competed in both the Fastnet and Sydney-Hobart Races in the same year on their own keel.

Watch out for a in-depth feature on Kialoa II in a future issue of Yachting World magazine.