2024 Classic yacht symposium in Helsinki

Beautiful choir singing of Evert Taube’s “Så skimrande var aldrig havet (The sea was never so glimmering)” marked the start of this year’s classics symposium. The symposium was carried out with the usual gusto, by Helsingfors Segelsällskap as the main responsible organization. This year’s focus was the America’s Cup, considered to be the world’s oldest sailing race from 1851. This gave a certain focus to the classic classes J- boats and 12 mR.

The talk on the ongoing renovation of Sir Lipton’s J-boat Shamrock V by Paul Spooner was personally the one that captivated me the most although the symposium in total provided interesting retrospective and forward-looking presentations on sailing.

The story of Shamrock V was something extra as my first sailboat, the E-canoe with number 53 was named Shamrock at the suggestion of my grandfather Holger. He told the story of all Sir Lipton’s attempts to win Americas Cup to a sailing geek wide-eyed teenager and no other optional name was subsequently ever mentioned. As 14-15 years old I made a new Oregon pine deck with Blondies’  Atomic and later Call me on repeat.

Another family anecdote was that Birger Slotte, later a shipbuilding engineer and married to Doris Swahn (my grandfather’s sister) as a fifteen-year-old, built a sailing model of Shamrock III in 1915 in order to learn more about the design of sailboats. In addition, one of the symposium’s organizer, Kim Weckström, sails the 8 mR Vågspel designed by Birger Slotte.

When talking with Spooner the night before the seminar we got to talk about these connections and he mentioned that almost every sailor he met around the world had some kind of connection to one of the J-boats Shamrock. Sir Lipton built five contenders but lost in all attempts to win the America’s Cup but won credibility for his efforts and sportsmanship.

It was also exciting to hear how John Lambert van Bueuren as a supplier of wood for masts and grand pianos “scouted” Sitka spruce in a specific area with abundant rainfall to achieve the quality of the spruce in the wilderness of the North American west coast with Grizzly bears and whales as natural features during the search for suitable trees. The presentation also includes the process from finding promising trees, replanting, transport challenges to the sawing mill and eventually delivery of wood for a mast or a grand piano somewhere in the world.

Coordination with business meetings Thursday and Friday as well as dinners with relatives made the time in Helsinki very informative and, as usual, very pleasant. Unfortunately, no time was given for a final dinner with all the participants of the symposium and the traditional journey home on one of Tallink Silja line’s ferries. Early launch of our sailing boat and high workload made this impossible.

Summary of the symposium


Source: Magnus