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Too big for the repair yard - Mirabella V

by Des Ryan on 20 Aug 2012
Mirabella V - still the largest sailing sloop ever built, now gutted .. .
What happens when you own a boat that is too big to fit into the repair yards? The 75m Mirabella V may not be the longest yacht in the world now, but when the yacht with an 89m tall mast wanted British boat builder Pendennis to refit her, it was too big to fit their boatshed. This didn't faze Pendennis, used to pleasing clients - they simply cut a section out of the dry dock wall. They also plan to raise the roof and deepen the basin to accommodate larger works.

Mirabella V is still the largest sloop ever built and can't fit under any bridge it can sail to. Just lowering the mast to the deck would not be something that any boat builder could take on, as just the mast weighs 45 tonnes.

The refit is being undertaken by Pendennis after the yacht’s US owner failed to find the personal service he was looking for on home soil. The boat has been gutted, with plans for new engines and higher ceilings.

Not that Mirabella V was too bad to live on before, and the ceilings below decks were already 220cm. The whole boat was already a mélange of rich fabrics, wonderful wood, of all sorts of natural and technological materials.

'Mirabella V' was designed by Ron Holland, and the plans proudly hung on the walls of the boat. Everywhere, modern bookcases and containers effectively swapped space with carpets, modern paintings, antique prints, antique furniture, statues, books.

There were cabins called Turquoise, and Topaz. Linen on the partitions was in the colour that the name of the cabin suggested.

The table in the dining area stood out over a maple flooring, and it was positioned within a design of inlaid teak and ebony. Exotic sculptures were everywhere, with oil paintings chosen by the previous owners.

But all that's gone now, ready for the refit.

About Pendennis and life after the 2008 financial crash:
Pendennis is a Cornwall-based company, specialising in custom-made yachts and refits, but it has moved more strongly into refitting boats after the market for new builds hit choppy waters in the wake of the 2008 financial crash.

Refitting a yacht is much faster and two-thirds cheaper than building a new one, which typically takes five years.
Pendennis director Stephen Hills told Express UK: 'The industry was overfuelled by demand. But then the bubble burst. Now we see a good market for servicing yachts.'

Despite the wider slump, the UK’s £450 million-a-year superyacht sector has weathered the recession well by and large, with another steady performance expected this year. As well as yacht-making yards, the industry spans brokers, lawyers and designers and employs 3,500 people. Each new boat employs 350 people for two years directly and 2,450 people indirectly.

With the super-rich recovering from the financial crisis faster than other people, the outlook is shipshape. Wealthy Chinese, Russian and Arab buyers have started placing orders again and sparked a vogue for mega-yachts, those more than 90m in length. At this size the boats resemble mini-cruise ships.

Maybe Pendennis is getting ready for this sea change in favour of bigger boats by adapting its Falmouth yard.

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