Les Voiles 2011 marks the debut of Skylark in Mediterranean waters. The yacht only arrived in June, having been shipped from Newport, Rhode Island, where it spent the last eight years going through an on again/off again refit. Fortunately, her pedigree – a near sister-ship to the well-known Stormy Weather – and condition warranted attention and ultimately an American owner invested the resources to ensure a thorough refit by classic yacht restoration specialists, LMI Newport and East Passage Boatwrights.
Tara Getty owns the impeccable 100-foot motor yacht, Blue Bird, a classic beauty, and he clearly has an eye and appreciation for period yachts. Blue Bird was built in 1938 for Sir Malcolm Campbell, an English racing motorist who held the world speed record on land and on water during the 1920s and 1930s using vehicles called Blue Bird. For the match against Argyll, Getty put up the Blue Bird Cup, a striking sterling silver trophy that was awarded to Campbell in 1938 for setting a land speed record.
No stranger to Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, Getty raced every year on boats he chartered with friends. Meanwhile, he kept looking for a suitable sailing yacht, one from an era similar to Blue Bird. He searched for two to three years, almost buying another boat that wasn’t quite right, post-war versus pre-war. Getty said, “Sometime last summer I saw Stormy Weather and I thought, ‘Okay, now I know what I’m looking for’.”
Having only taken delivery of Skylark in June, Getty and family spent July and August cruising in Corsica with Blue Bird and enjoying day sailing on his new S&S yawl. He said, “For me, she’s a perfect size, because if she’s too small, I can’t really have crew living on her comfortably, and if she’s too big she becomes too much of a hassle to sail – like the big gaffers which needs lots of crew. I want minimum crew, so if we go away you only need one person on board and that’s it”.
“So it’s very difficult to find the right boat for that if you’re looking at vintage boats, but quite difficult to tick all the boxes. So far we’ve been quite lucky, the test will be to see how well she’ll race, because as a cruising boat, she’s worked wonderfully – every day we’ve gone out for a couple of hours and have had some lovely, lovely sails.”
Given that this is Skylark’s first regatta this year, the results seem less important than the joy in finding such a gem, Getty adds, “We have a really strong crew and none of us are really professionals: friends, and friends of friends, and my family. I don’t want to do a full professional thing, it’s not what we’re gunning for. This is our first event and it’s wonderful to finally be doing it on your own boat, even though Skylark is not very big compared to some of the boats we’ve been sailing on. This is her first time in Europe, so it must be causing a bit of interest because it’s another Sparkman & Stephens come over (from the US), very similar to Stormy Weather, Dorade, and Sonny… the famous ones. She’s not been seen in Europe before.”