CLASSIC BOAT SEPTEMBER 2006
THALASSA 100 YEARS


Thalassa, 1906
LOA: 48ft (14.6m)
LWL: 35ft (10.7m)
Beam: 10ft 2in (3.1m)
Draught: 7ft 3in (2.2m)
Sail area: 1,044sqft (97m2)

    Her experimental 1926 rig kept a gaff mizzen – she went back to gaff after this until 1935 when she converted to bermudan. Note the dinghy in davits, and anchor winch.


THALASSA
All welcome

    Thalassa means the sea in Greek mythology and is the lucky name for our centenarian this month. The Charles Sibbick-designed yawl is one of the most-raced boats of her era. Dan Houston went sailing. Photography by Nichola Aigner

    In his book To Sea in Carpet Slippers, Sandy Sandison writes that to be invited to crew permanently in Thalassa gave the feeling that ‘as if by adoption, one had been admitted into the intimacy of a seafaring family’. The venerable ocean racer – the boat, I mean (Sandy was her famous gin-drinking cook) – celebrated her 100th birthday in Cowes in June with around 100 sometime crew and friends joining owner Richard Sewell for lunch at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club. It’s a mark of Richard’s captaincy and the boat’s enduring legacy, from when she was sailed hard and successfully in RORC races in the 1940s and 1950s by his father-in-law, that so many Thalassians turned up (and presented him, and wife Vivian, with a secret present of a model). And, while she’s no longer in the van of competition racing, it certainly sounds as if Thalassa is still weaving her magic; Richard takes a wide variety of friends, some novices, sailing and has introduced many to this boating family.
    One of the more extraordinary facts about her is that she is still original, even with her original yellow pine decks, sheathed in glassfibre by the Gosport Boatyard 20 years ago and painted each year in non-slip by Richard. Her pitch pine on oak hull is also intact, except for one frame, broken when she fell off her cradle, he says. She even managed to keep her 7.5- ton lead keel when she was laid up during the two world wars – lead yacht keels were a favourite government source for bullets.