Spirit Yachts Ltd has announced an historic collaboration with Sparkman & Stephens Inc to build a new J-Class yacht. This iconic new ‘J’ will be named Cheveyo (pronounced shu-Vay-o), a native American word meaning “spirit warrior.” Registered in the United States, the yacht will carry sail number J1.
Cheveyo will be steeped in rich history, built to the Ranger 77B design. This is one of the original series of six designs submitted by Starling Burgess and Olin Stephens to Harold Vanderbilt for the 1937 America’s Cup defence.
In 1936, each of the six Ranger designs was extensively tank tested by Burgess and Stephens to select the optimum hull-form to defend the America’s Cup against the challenger Endeavour II, designed by Charles Nicholson. Vanderbilt selected the ‘C’ version because it was found to have the best potential for racing solely in the sheltered waters off Newport RI. The ‘Super J’ Ranger was thus born, and went on to triumph decisively over Endeavour II in the 1937 series.
For 2012, S&S and Spirit Yachts have further evaluated the Ranger design series. The prestigious US-based design house conducted an in-depth survey of all of the original Burgess/Stephens J-Class lines in their library. These designs were optimized for two variables: Spirit Yachts’ advanced wood/composite construction techniques as well as for the more exposed conditions of today’s Classic regattas. The Ranger 77B version was identified as the clear star.
Cheveyo will marry the classic design of yachting’s golden era with modern build techniques of the 21st century. Spirit Yachts – the world’s foremost expert in sophisticated wood/epoxy construction – will build the ‘J’ using this sophisticated technique mated to laser cut stainless steel ring frames to create an exceptionally stiff yet lightweight hull. Spirit and S&S are currently finalising construction drawings suited to this superb wood/composite build system.
Bruce Johnson, President and Chief Designer of Sparkman & Stephens, observes: “By utilizing the wood composite construction technique that Spirit Yachts has perfected over the years, Cheveyo will break from the current norm of modern J’s aluminum construction and return to a more historically accurate construction method, albeit with the use of modern epoxies and laminating techniques to maintain a light-weight structure. As a further nod to historical accuracy, she will float on her lines as designed in 1936, not requiring the J-Class Association’s additional freeboard allowance, thus resulting in less wetted surface area.”
On deck, this new ‘Super-J’ will remain true to the beauty and grace of the original design. The authentic low-profile deckhouse has been retained, resulting in a clean, unobstructed working deck and an exquisitely beautiful sheerline. Complementing this heritage will be high-modulus carbon spars, carbon rigging, state of the art sails and all the modern sophistication of a contemporary performance yacht that will allow her to be raced competitively against any modern yacht and, most importantly, in the spectacular growing J-Class fleet. Authenticity continues below deck with a beautiful 1930’s-inspired interior that will offer excellent accommodation for up to ten guests in five handsomely appointed and comfortable cabins. There will also be excellent facilities for eight crew able to offer exceptional service from modern and well equipped 'hotel' facilities.
For nearly twenty years, Spirit Yachts has designed and built unparalleled modern classic yachts. Exquisite handcrafted wooden ships with simple elegance, exceptional performance and impeccable quality are the hallmarks of the firm, all of which will be exemplified by Cheveyo.
Sean McMillan, Managing Director and Chief Designer at Spirit Yachts, notes: “From the dawn of history, wood has been the finest material in which to build a boat and it remains so to this day. With modern advances in laminar wood technology, many of which have been pioneered by Spirit Yachts, we are now able to build complex sophisticated yachts with a strength-to-weight ratio earlier designers could only dream of. Imagine what Herreshoff would have achieved!” “But beyond the very considerable structural advantages of wood, there is a 'soul' to a wooden yacht that cannot be replicated in steel or aluminium or carbon. Wood is a breathing organic material that creates an ambience of quiet comfortable calm with superb insulating qualities, both thermal and sound.”
“Because the hull structure of Cheveyo will be built in wood/composite, the natural beauty of the wood will be celebrated below and there will be no need for heavy linings or insulation. The weight savings from this, and in the hull itself, translate directly into an increased ballast ratio resulting in further improved performance.”
The yacht has been commissioned by a US-based syndicate of investors and sailing enthusiasts. A driving force behind the project is the desire to experience the thrill and elegance of yesteryear’s yacht racing on a modern vessel with the essence of tradition.
Kevin Felix, Chairman of Spirit Yachts, commented: “Cheveyo will capture imaginations and evoke the romance and excitement of the finest expression of yacht design as epitomized by the J-Class. She blends contrasting elements of the old with the new, historic design with modern construction, and classic aesthetics with superior performance. There are no two firms better suited to realize Cheveyo than Sparkman & Stephens and Spirit Yachts. We could not be happier with this partnership and relish the opportunity for Spirit Yachts to place its imprint on this classic J.”
“The yacht is reminiscent of the historic America’s Cup competition between England and the United States. From design through construction to eventual competition with her peers, Cheveyo will espouse this history. Imagine: US sailors commissioning a British company to build a classic yacht from designs by an American firm that were originally created to compete against England in the America’s Cup – that is an impressive and somewhat ironic dynamic.”
The Spirit Yachts/Sparkman & Stephens ‘Super-J’ Cheveyo will be the truest interpretation of the splendour of the J-Class for the modern age. Any yachting connoisseur will appreciate the care, effort and respect that has been demonstrated toward a yacht that is a jewel of the America’s Cup culture and reflects the very close history of competition between the US and the UK during the heyday of the J-Class era, which is once again flourishing in today’s modern age.