“Between Wood and Water”: how to save and boost the restoration of vintage boats?

between wood and water 2015 2Great attendance for the Verbano Vintage Sails Association’s national conference. The second edition of the event on the protection of historically valuable boats held at the Golf Club of Travedona Monate brought together more than eighty participants from all over Italy, including leading experts in the field. The primary purpose of the Verbano Vintage Sails Association remains to di save, protect and encourage the restoration of vintage boats. As emerged from the conference, however, in order for people to understand the cultural importance of this heritage, it is necessary to enhance it in the territorial context, recreating the historical link that has always existed between boating and local traditions.

One example to copy, according to Giovanni Panella, Italian delegate of the European Maritime Heritage Organization, is certainly the Loire Festival: “
Maritime festivals held every year in northern Europe.
– said the writer – have a history dating back to the 1980s, when it was realized that much of the heritage represented by old sailing ships and traditional working boats was disappearing and that action needed to be taken so that it was not lost forever. Since then, these events have accompanied the awakening of attention to “maritime culture“.

The AVEV would also now like to have its own “festival” and is already planning at the same time as the Verbano Classic Regatta, the sailing gathering dedicated to vintage and classic hulls in the waters off the Gulf of Laveno, a series of events ashore. Scheduled for the month of September, these events will aim to engage enthusiasts but also to interest local populations and the many tourists who flock to the shores of the lake in the summertime.


Among the many interesting papers at the conference, we were particularly impressed by Andrea Rossi’s presentation on the restoration of Gometra, a 1925 wooden boat. It all starts from the Cannes regattas in September 2006, Matteo Rossi – Andrea’s father and former owner of the Madifra boat, 1965 Giles design – has to drive to Monte Carlo and has some time to spare. He decides to take the coast road instead of the highway, crossing Nice he catches a glimpse of a wreck in the shallows among other boats, nails it and leaves a note. After about a month Andrea and Matteo return to Nice with trucks, exceptional transport etc and take her away, to Liguria.
Today Gometra is at work in a shed above Chiavari and will be back pretty much as it was to sailing in a few months, after a long resatuarion.
Gometra is Commissioned to Alfred Mylne by Admiral James Farie in 1925 for British coastal waters, Gometra is named after a small islet off Mull. He began his racing career in Firth of Clyde regattas based in Port Bannatyne. In 1928, during the West Highland Race at Inverary the widowed admiral met his second wife, and in 1930 with Gometra they sailed south first to Falmouth in Cornwall and later to Lymington in Hampshire, where, however, Gometra proved too big for his river berth.
Among the most interesting aspects of its history, and why it was nicknamed “The Gold Ship,” in 1939 when World War II had begun Gometra was brought back to Scotland, to Greenoco near Glasgow, was owned by James F. Lang but when Norway was attacked by the Nazis the fate of Gometra became clear. It was chosen to safely transport the Norwegian Crown’s gold reserves to Canada, was loaded onto the freighter Bra Kra with its crew on stand-by so that it could sail on to safety in case the freighter was sunk by U-boats.
Roughly speaking, because until the restoration is finished of precise data there is none, the overall length is 13.50 m, beam max 2.60 m, disl. 10 ton, mast 17 m. It is very similar to an 8-meter International Tonnage, not is but almost. The original tonnage should be “12 Tons of Thames” whatever that means.



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