Legendary J Class yacht Shamrock V relaunched

Shamrock V at Shamrock Quay.

One of the world’s most iconic racing superyachts, Shamrock V, has returned to the water after a historic multi-year restoration.

The 1930 America’s Cup challenger Shamrock V, known as ‘The Queen of the J Class’, was relaunched on Monday (20 May 2024) at Saxon Wharf, Southampton, UK, after the most comprehensive restoration and rebuild of its storied 94-year history.

Racing at the America’s Cup J Class regatta in Bermuda in 2017, Shamrock V sustained significant structural damage and took on water, which seized all mechanical systems. The boat was laid up ashore in Europe for assessment. With the assessment dragging on, the then-owner listed the badly broken vessel for sale for £6m.

Having originally made an offer in 2017, the yacht’s current owner, an experienced British yachtsman and owner of a modern classic, finally won the tender to purchase it and completed the acquisition in January 2022.

Seven years after the initial damage, following a complete strip down, literally to the last bolt, the work of some of the industry’s best shipwrights, engineers and project teams has restored Shamrock V to concours condition.

“It has been a massive undertaking and a huge privilege to unite extraordinary talents across the classic and superyacht communities,” says Paul Spooner, who led the project team alongside Feargus Bryan. “We were very fortunate to have a committed and knowledgeable owner who enabled us to fully and correctly restore this vital part of yachting history and prepare her for her next 100 years.”

Shamrock V at Shamrock Quay.

Chief shipwright Giles Brotherton, a veteran of some of the world’s most storied classic restorations, adds: “It is very rare to be able to work on a revival of this scale and ambition. Some of our artisans were using hand tools that were used on Shamrock’s original build. It is undoubtedly the biggest and arguably the most important yacht restoration in the world today.”

MDL’s Saxon Wharf marina boasts a 200-ton boat hoist and heavy-duty, fully serviced pontoons, regularly welcoming boats up to 80 metres. Situated close to Ocean Village, it’s billed as the ideal location for larger boats in need of secure, quick-turnaround lift-outs, repair work, or full-scale refits.

The owner rented space from MDL at Saxon Wharf, Southampton, building a three-storey tent the size of two tennis courts and hiring adjacent buildings and storage to house the project.

The rolling average number of craftspeople employed on the project over the past two years is 30, and the person-hours deployed over that period run to comfortably over 100,000, occasionally requiring double shifts.

But the result speaks for itself – over 95 per cent of the original teak from the yacht’s 1970 re-planking has been carefully removed, reconditioned and refitted; 62 per cent of the steel frame has been salvaged, strengthened and repainted; all of the 6,500 bronze alloy bolts that held Shamrock together were decayed beyond repair and completely replaced from a factory in the north of the UK; 70 per cent of the mechanical systems have been salvaged, fully reconditioned by their manufacturers and zero-houred; the interior was removed, refurbished and restored with the saloon being redesigned in mahogany by Adam Lay Studio; the rigging was renewed and repaired by Marine Results; and the vessel has been updated with the latest standards for structural and crew safety and environmental compliance – to the extent that Shamrock V was recently awarded the world’s first 5* certificate from the Superyacht Eco Index, endorsed by Lloyd’s Register.

Monday’s launch is being followed by re-masting, sea trials, commissioning, sail testing and race training, seeing Shamrock V gracing Solent waters until July, when it will move to the Mediterranean to take part in some informal J Class events in preparation for October’s J Class America’s Cup regatta in Barcelona.

Shamrock V at Shamrock Quay.

About Shamrock V

Shamrock V was built in 1930 for Sir Thomas Lipton as his fifth and final challenge for the America’s Cup.

Shamrock V was the first J, the only one built of wood and the only one that has never fallen into dereliction since her launch. Of the eight other Js, two are original yachts, Velsheda and Endeavour, both painstakingly reconstructed from their abandoned carcases following decades of dereliction.  And then there are six immaculate replica Js: Ranger, Svea, Topaz, Hanuman, Lionheart, and Rainbow.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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