Among yachting historians the name Nathanael Herreshoff
is spoken with awe. With a degree in mechanical engineering from M.I.T., Herreshoff - known as "Captain Nat" - revolutionized the world of yacht
design and produced a succession of undefeated America's Cup
winners between 1893–1920. The elegant yachts he designed for those who could afford them were the largest, most expensive and most powerful ever built to defend the famed sailing trophy. Among the moguls who commissioned sailing superyachts from the Rhode Island
-based naval architect were Jay Gould, William Randolph Hearst
, J.P. Morgan
, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Harold Stirling Vanderbilt, William Kissam Vanderbilt, Harry Payne Whitney and Morton F. Plant.
Plant, who liked to be known as "Commodore", was a financier, yachtsman and philanthropist who founded the Connecticut College for Women. These days however he is best remembered as the man who traded his opulent Fifth Avenue
mansion to Parisian jeweler Cartier
in 1917 for $100 and a pearl necklace. Plant owned several yachts during his lifetime, but one of the most famous was the "peerless schooner" (according to the New York Times
which he commissioned from Herreshoff in 1910. His instructions to the great naval architect were simple: "Build me a schooner that can win!" The yacht claimed several victories before Plant's death in 1918, later passing into the hands of Cornelius Vanderbilt
's crowning triumph came in 1928 when she won the 3,400 mile King's Cup Trans-Atlantic Race from New York
to Santander, Spain.
All ancient history, you're probably thinking; but the Elena
(above) has now been rebuilt and relaunched
in all its original splendor, and what's more it is now listed for sale
in the South of France
via global online luxury marketplace JamesList
for $12 million. Spain's Factoria Naval de Marin tracked down 320 original hand-drawn plans, in the possession of Herreshoff's alma mater MIT
, prior to beginning the restoration process. Historic images of the yacht were painstakingly studied to ensure that every detail was restored to perfection, from her towering masts and nearly 1,200 square meter sail plan to the wide teak deck and luxurious appointments. The Elena
can accommodate 10 guests in Gilded Age luxury, with beautiful woodwork throughout and elegant, period correct fittings discreetly updated with modern technology. All guest cabins are exquisitely finished with mahogany
panellng, while all interior ornamental details follow the original Herreshoff designs. Check out the gallery for glorious images.