Three-mast schooner Atlantic that held transatlantic record for 100 years to be reincarnated

NEW YORK HERALD, Tuesday, May 30, 1905.
“About half-past six o’clock the war ship moved in and took up her position about two miles south of the Lizard Light, giving plenty of room between herself and the Atlantic to pass. The latter came on, boomed out with squaresail on her starboard side, every scrap of sail set, and drifted over the face of the sun, and the wind freshened up a bit. As the Atlantic drew nearer we could make out a big American ensign flying from her peak. With all her sail set, William Marshall’s beautiful auxiliary three masted schooner the Atlantic, crossed the outside line between the Lizard and the German dispatch vessel. At the next moment every steam vessel within a radius of five miles, tugs, yachts, and launches began a strident concert with whistles.

“Captain Barr was seen leaning over the port rail of the yacht smoking a cigar. Asked what he thought of the Atlantic the captain said: It amounts to this: I have got the best yacht afloat, next we had good leading breezes, then the crew worked nobly and you couldn’t find a better set of fellows.”

Thus the Atlantic under command of the notorious Charlie Barr won the transatlantic race for the Kaiser’s Cup from New York to England in the spring of 1905 in 12 days, 4 hours and 1 minute. A record that stood 100 years, until it was broken last year by Mari-Cha IV in the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge. Many attempts had been made before then, but outside official races. Only multi hulls managed to clock better times. Eric Tabarly on the radical foiler trimaran Paul Ricard being the first to shave off almost two days in 1980.

The fascinating black three-mast schooner is going to be reincarnated. Dutchman Ed Kastelein has commissioned the replica of the giant Atlantic. The new yacht will be the largest racing schooner ever to be re-created and the project is totally unique in that Kastelein will be masterminding the build personally. With his insatiable passion for classics he undoubtedly may be considered a great connoisseur. Not only is he an ‘aficionado’ of fast schooners of the past, he also takes great pleasure in making the Golden Age of Yachting revive.

He owned several well-known classics before he built the 125ft Grand Banks schooner Zaca a te Moana in 1992. From 1999 till 2001 he managed the construction of the 42 meters (137′) Eleonora, designed by Nathanael Greene Herreshoff in1909 as the big class racing schooner Westward. Atlantic will be built in Holland where the expertise and craftsmanship for taking up such a project fortunately still can be found. The launch of the hull is foreseen for the end of 2007 and fitting out will take another two years.

The strikingly large and slender schooner was designed by William Gardner and built by Townsend & Downey, Schooter Island, New York in 1903. The owner, New Yorker Wilson Marshall was the heir to his father’s Broadway Stage Line fortune. She measured 56.43 meters (185’6) over the bows without bowsprit of 11.25 meters (37′). With her beam of 8.85 meters (29′) and draft of 5.50 meters (18′) her displacement was 395 tons. Unlike the flat out big class racing schooners of the time ATLANTIC was the quintessential cruiser/racer. She could do 17 knots on her steam engine of 400hp, which weighed 30 tons including boiler, but excluding coal. Two generators provided electricity. She had heating, refrigeration, and water heaters. The lobby was finished in marble and the interior was fitted out with the finest mahogany panelling. There were three large tiled bathrooms (with bath tubs) and a large galley.

Her later owners included railway and coal magnate Cornelius van der Bilt and Gerald Lambert of the Lambert Pharmacal Cy, the inventor of Listerine. She served as a mother ship for famous racing yachts like Vanity and the J-Class Yankee while racing in England. Her guest book included the rich and famous of the world. She simply was the most famous and beloved racing schooner of all times.

From the different sail plans in the original design the smaller ocean-going rig of 1,720m² (18,500 square feet), which was used for the 1905 Kaiser’s Cup, has been chosen for the new yacht. Even then her spars will tower some 48 meters above the waterline. After an intensive four year search Kastelein, assisted by yachting historian John Lammerts van Bueren, has gathered copies of the hundreds of drawings of the original Atlantic from various archives in the USA. The appearance of this majestic sailing craft will be identical to its predecessor and with Doug Peterson acting as consulting naval architect the authenticity aspects of her lines and floatation is guaranteed.

The original was built of riveted-steel, the spars were made of solid steel tubes, she had heavy cotton sails and steam was used for propulsion. To adapt the design to actual materials and construction methods of welded hulls, lighter alloy rigs and Dacron sails, the naval architects MasterShip at Eindhoven, The Netherlands has been retained for the structural design and engineering. They completed the task of updating the design without changing an inch to the sacred aesthetics of the original.

In the old design for example all 96 steel frames were spaced at 558.8mm (20 inches) and this has been adhered to for the sake of authenticity. The revised design has resulted in a weight saving of 30 tons, without compromising the standard requirements of today’s super yachts like two Yanmar generators of 80 and 40 kWe that will provide power for the winches, air-conditioning, freezers and water makers. A Yanmar 6AY engine of 755 HP/1840 rpm has been chosen for propulsion. The order for the hull has been granted to the Dutch yard Van der Graaf in Hardinxveld-Giessendam, who also built Eleonora.

Below deck the new schooner will have considerably more comfort than the original, as eventually the yacht will serve for luxury charters. The atmosphere will be classical in which mahogany and light cream colours will predominate. Accommodation is foreseen for twelve guests including a large master stateroom with private head and bath amidships. A modern galley will assure the catering and a pantry and laundry will provide for the household backup. The captain’s cabin is aft and crew quarters for 10 are located in the forepeak with separate deck access. In terms of space there will be no comparison with the old days when 39 crew and officers lived on board all year round.

Atlantic will be sailing again and she will be as breathtakingly beautiful as ever. A myth is about to be created!