The 10 Largest Sailing Yachts In The World - The Cursed Yacht

Post by: Dee White
26 May 2015

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If you really want to make a statement, go faster, have luxurious comfort, more guests, more toys and make people jealous – then bigger is better. But would you believe that number 10 on my list of largest sailing yachts was launched way back in 1927?

We start with –

10. Creole – 214ft – launched 1927 in Gosport

3 masted schooner, built by Camper & Nicholson in the UK and designed by Charles E. Nicholson. Max speed 14.5 knots. Accomodation for 8 guests and 16 crew.

The largest wooden sailing boat in the world is now owned by the Gucci family and has had a varied history of racing, luxury, public service, not to mention intrigue. The numerous accidents which have dogged her and her owners have given her the reputation of being cursed. She was the dream of Alexander Smith Cochran, an American, known as “the richest bachelor in New York”, but by the time she was launched, Cochran was suffering badly from tuberculosis and was too ill to break the champagne on her prow. He enlisted the help of a friend, but three attempts had to be made before the bottle would break – a bad omen indeed.

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Cochran then misguidedly made several “improvements” to his yacht, involving shortening the sails and changing the keel, which made the boat roll uncomfortably. It was nothing like the beautiful sailing yacht that the designer intended and it soon lost its appeal for Cochran. After his death her new owner used her for day trips around the Solent and as a ferry to the Isle of Wight. Then in 1937 Sir Connop Guthrie restored her back to her former glory and she was able to fly as her designer had intended, winning many regattas around the British Isles.

Misfortune struck for Creole when war declared in 1939 and she was drafted into service as a humble mine-hunter. She was stripped ignominiously of her interior and masts and continued to deteriorate until she was bought, in 1948, by Stavros Niarchos, the billionaire Greek shipping tycoon, who saw her potential and lovingly restored her to her former glory. Tragedy then struck again when Niarchos’s first wife was found dead from an overdose and his next wife died in a similar way. He lost interest in the boat and decided to sell her to the Danish government in 1977. She was used as a training vessel by Danish school children and was then employed in the rehabilitation of young drug addicts. Once again the hard use and abuse the boat was given caused her to deteriorate, but in 1983 the worn, neglected vessel caught the eye of the couturier Maurizio Gucci, who had the imagination to see how some tender, loving care could transform her. Spending a vast fortune over 6 years, Gucci restored Creole inside and out until she was once again one of the most beautiful sailing yachts in the world.

It seemed as if her luck had turned, but misfortune struck yet again in 1995 when Maurizio Gucci was brutally murdered by his own wife. Many believed that “the curse” was to blame. Ownership then passed to Gucci’s daughters but they rarely sailed the boat. Perhaps they prefered their smaller 60ft or maybe they too believe that the Creole is cursed.

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Author - Dee White

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