The return of Brava, the Italian Queen of Classic IOR, Vallicelli’s masterpiece


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Brava after her refit

One of the most famous Italian boats in history makes her return! Brava is back, Vallicelli’s masterpiece, the emblem of Classic IOR and winner of any regatta in 1982-1983 -including a Fasnet- is now well and alive. And she is back to former glory thanks to a Dutch owner (and great sailor). Here is the story of this rebirth.

Brava, IOR’s most famous Italian boat, is reborn

In 1980 Pasquale Landolfi (an icon of Italian offshore sailing) had Vallicelli design Brava, a boat that was initially under-performing but destined to become an emblem of her architect’s genius, a hull destined to legend. But, as many boats, she slowly fell into oblivion. Until early 2023, if at all, when, after discovering it for sale, we had again a chance to tell her history  (if you want to read the story of the Brava, you can find it here). Now, a little less than a year later, we find that Brava is doing well and, indeed, has returned to its past glory, maintained 100% as it was originally intended: no cruising transformations, no furlers … in short, original. Just as it was and should be. And the credit goes to Edwin Visser, a great Dutch sailor as well as a IOR enthusiast.


Brava is back thanks to her new Dutch owner

Who is Edwin Visser? In a nutshell, a  real Sailor, a IOR enthusiast and Brava‘s new owner. We had the chance to speak with him over the phone after he wrote us about his amazing purchase, sending us post-refit photos of it. After all, he had also read about the Brava in our pages and thought he would share the restoration of this icon with the Italian public. But, to just say that Visser is the new owner of the Brava, is a bit reductive. Edwin Visser, although he does not stress it himself, is part of a true sailing-family, with his sister, Tanja Visser, being on the legendary Maiden for the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race and he himself participating in that same Whitbread, on Equity & Law II. In short, they know a thing or two about good boats… But why did he choose to buy Brava?

Maiden, for those who do not yet know her, another absolute icon

“As a child, I was in love with racing boats ,” he tells us. “Sailing was a family thing and I was obsessed with the good old IOR designs. I would cut their pictures out of magazines and keep them. Brava’s picture  was my favourite of them all. Then, at the time, my father bough Marionette 7, a Ron Holland’s two tonner, an Admiral’s Cup boat, so I got used to that kind of boats, their racing attitude.

And now he has Brava.

Brava in Borlenghi’s iconic photo; Alassio; 1980

Actually Edwin already had a boat, a Moody 54, a cruiser, but as soon as he started seeing ads related to the sale of the Brava something in him moved. About at the same time, a discovery came: the broker to whom the sale was entrusted was the same broker from whom his father bought Marionette VII, Colin Sinclair, also the historical navigator aboard Brava during two of its great successes: the 1983’s Admiral’s Cup and Fasten. He wrote him a letter. The rest is history. His 54-footer sold and Brava purchased with a definite plan in mind: keep her true to the original design, use her to do sailing school with younger generations and, dulcis in fundo, reunite her to her old crew, to have them all still on board together. A dream.

Brava today

Brava’s return: the Refit

At the time of its purchase Brava was in Sweden, about 60 km from any place where it could be launched. The previous owner to Edwin, Sven Hjelte, had always treated her like a daughter, bought her in 1984 and then sold her, only to buy her back 3 times, whenever he saw her poorly maintained or in poor conditions. But Hjelte passed away years ago and, along with him, someone to care for Brava as she should have been. Conditions, then, were not the best. Thus, moved by land, she was taken to the sea and rigged. The transfer to Holland could only take place by sea. Batteries and wiring were rotten; time had worn them out. This replacement was the only step to precede the trip, then the construction site. A 3-day trip that uncovered so much.

Brava just before the launch following her refit in the Netherlands

Hull and construction were top quality. Edwin himself points this out. Sure, a couple of cracks here and there were re-welded in refit, but at the design and construction level it was flawless. The rigging, not so much, as well as the baby-stay (lost in the crossing), the woods, the lights and all the electronics, as well as the hydraulic components, completely gone. Everything has undergone a major refit, 3 months in the shed, to return to its early day’s glory.

Running and fixed rigging are now anew, winches all restored, interiors maintained as designed, but they too fully, restored. Same went for the all hydraulics systems and components, refurbished, all pumps and htches redone. Brava is now a new boat, but faithful in every aspect to the one that was. Even the sails, 36 different ones, are as they were meant to be, even in terms of rigging, no furlers, nothing. Gennaker less than ever, after all, they have as many as 12 spinnakers in stock….

In short, an operation that has not only given Brava her old glory, but that will give her just as much life, now becoming a boat that is also open for teaching, schooling and passing on the passion.

Brava today

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Vendono il Brava, la barca più famosa dello IOR (13.5 m)



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