A rare example of an intact 1920s gentleman’s classic yacht, Cynara has undergone a three-year complete restoration in Japan. The completion of the work was to have coincided with the now postponed Tokyo Olympics.

Cynara is a 96ft (29m) gaff-rigged ketch, designed by Charles E Nicholson and built by Camper & Nicholsons in 1927 – the same yard and year as the famous three-masted schooner Creole.

Cynara has been based in Miura, Japan, since the 1970s where she has been used only very occasionally by her owners, a Japanese family company called Riviera Holdings.

Christened Gwendolen, Cynara has also been called Easy Going during a colourful career. She was purchased just prior to her launch by the Danish Graae family, who were among the founders of the Régates Royales in Cannes.

William Compton, the sixth Marquess of Northampton, owned her for 25 years from 1933 before the famous British racing driver, Duncan Hamilton, bought her in 1965 and kept her in the Mediterranean.

It was during this time Cynara was chartered for the comedy crime film Drop Dead Darling, starring Tony Curtis and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Having raced in the Caribbean in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Cynara left Europe in 1973 for Japan. Since her arrival she has been maintained in her original state and, very unusually, her layout had not been substantially altered.

The restoration plan was to keep as much of the original boat as possible and it is estimated that around 70% of the yacht has been preserved.

After initially presuming they’d need to ship the boat back to Europe for restoration, the owners decided to undertake the project in Japan, opting to employ classic yacht expertise and specialists from Europe to work alongside, and help train, local carpenters.

Cynara was hauled from Sagami Bay, south of Tokyo, disassembled and put under cover in 2017. Feargus Bryan was brought in to project manage the rebuild.

“We stabilised the hull and then began replacing all of the oak frames, to renew the structure,” Bryan explains.

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“The backbone and planking of the yacht was in good condition so we were able to re-use most of those elements. We decided early on to fit a new stem in the yacht to assure her strength.”

With the frames set up, the team refastened and repaired the planking, deck beams and cabin soles, before laying a new deck. The interior was restored off site, with most joiner work retained.

New masts were sourced from Noble Spars in Bristol, while Ratsey & Lapthorn, the Cowes-based loft that sewed the original sails, has made a new suit of sails.



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