Stephens Waring 75: Isobel

It will be interesting to see how long Richard Schotte stays faithful to his latest boat, Isobel, a custom Stephens Waring performance deck-saloon cruiser that was launched at Brooklin Boat Yard in Maine last July. Schotte, it would seem, is the sort of client designers, builders and brokers dream of.
Author:
Updated:
Original:
Isobel

It will be interesting to see how long Richard Schotte stays faithful to his latest boat, Isobel, a custom Stephens Waring performance deck-saloon cruiser that was launched at Brooklin Boat Yard in Maine last July. Schotte, it would seem, is the sort of client designers, builders and brokers dream of. Isobel is the fourth boat he’s commissioned from Stephens Waring over the past decade and represents a quantum leap of sorts, both in terms of her size and appearance. Where Schotte’s previous yachts were of modest size and quite classic and traditional in appearance, Isobel, as you can see, is rather large and looks very sexy.

Is she in any sense traditional? This was a question many were asking when she appeared in the classic yacht regattas on Penobscot Bay last summer, particularly after she won the Spirit of Tradition class in the Castine Classic Yacht Race immediately after her launching.

Isobel2

I worked her foredeck in race one of the inaugural Penobscot Bay Rendezvous in August, and I’m here to tell you her performance is explicitly modern. Yes, she is built of wood—cold-molded Western red cedar over laminated Douglas fir frames—but she is exceedingly light. Weighing just 37,000lbs, with an eye-poppingly low D/L ratio of 88 and an impressively high SA/D ratio of almost 30, she has little trouble breaking into double-digit speeds, even when the wind is moderate. Tacking angles are gratifyingly tight, and she slips easily upwind like a thief. Downwind, with the proper sails flying, she is a veritable rocket ship.

Certainly there’s nothing traditional about her rig. Her tall carbon-fiber mast, with no backstay and three sets of swept-back spreaders, supports a lethal-looking square-topped mainsail and a slim blade jib. Her long unstayed carbon sprit is just the thing for flying big modern A-sails and Code 0-type gennakers. Her deck and cockpit layout is clean and contemporary. The mainsail sheets to an arch over the aft end of the saloon deckhouse, and most working lines are led underneath the crisp teak deck. There are twin steering stations aft, with stylish custom wheel pedestals, and a full range of modern hydraulic controls and electric winches for trimming and shaping sails.

Belowdecks there is also little doubt you’re aboard a modern boat. The materials, again, are wood—gorgeous bird’s-eye maple joinery and a luscious quarter-sawn oak cabin sole—but the styling is quite chic. The custom stainless steel tiling behind the sink and range, the organic curve of the central lateral bulkhead and the galley countertop, and the brightly lit raised saloon opening straight into the cockpit all speak to a markedly 21st century aesthetic.

Isobel3

One area in which Isobel does recall an earlier era is in the quantity of her accommodations. Thanks to her narrow lines and the fact that her entire back end—roughly a third of her total length—is given over to a cockpit with nothing crammed underneath, there simply isn’t space for the palatial digs many modern cruising sailors have grown accustomed to.

The owner’s stateroom forward is generous, but hardly profligate, and features a queen-sized island berth and a large head with an enclosed shower stall. Guests meanwhile are relegated to either a tiny passage cabin with a tight single berth or a narrow midship cabin with two single bunk berths, with only one small day head to share between them. For a boat this large (the hull, minus bowsprit, is over 68 feet long), it is a decidely modest, almost 19th century layout.

However you define the term “spirit of tradition,” there is no denying that Isobel is a strikingly beautiful yacht. Though she is aesthetically modern, I think that what makes this boat so attractive are precisely those elements in her design that echo the past. The narrow hull, with its dramatic plumb bow and elegant stern overhang, quite explicitly recalls the rakish deep-keeled pilot cutters that commonly graced British waters a century and more ago.

Squint just a bit and that modern square-headed mainsail looks a bit like a gaff sail, doesn’t it? Squint a bit more and that rakish carbon sprit starts to look like one the great massive poles that sprouted from the bows of the cutters of old. Then open your eyes wide again—and you will understand that when it comes to yacht design, as in so many other things, beauty is indeed eternal.

SPECIFICATIONS

LOA 75ft 8in

LOD 68ft 8in

LWL 57ft 2in

BEAM 15ft

DRAFT 10ft

DISPLACEMENT 37,000lbs

BALLAST 13,500lbs

SAIL AREA 1,588ft2

FUEL/WATER 140/170gal

ENGINE 110hp Steyr diesel

BUILD COST Approx. $3 million

Photos by Alison Langely

Related

09-Map-Route-VG2020

Vendee Globe Village Closing, Race Still On

Following the latest national lockdown measures announced by French President Emmanuel Macron as part of the fight against Covid-19, the 2020-21 Vendée Globe Race Village will be closed to the public beginning Friday, October 30th. The Vendée Globe will still take place as ...read more

Register-2048

Register of Circumnavigators Launched

Just in time for a fresh class of Vendée Globe sailors to attempt their circumnavigations, The International Association of Cape Horners (IACH) has taken on the responsibility of maintaining an official register of sailors who have completed solo circumnavigations by the Three ...read more

FPO skys0tlm8jlrpynehcpe_NEW

A Half-century of Cruising with SAIL

The following story is part of SAIL magazine’s recent 50th-anniversary coverage. For more, click here. I cannot say I have been reading SAIL magazine since the very beginning, but I come pretty darned close. Sometime around 1974, when I was in high school, I began buying it ...read more

B&G-Halo20+-side-facing

Gear: B&G HALO radar

B&G’s HALO series of radars now includes the HALO20+ and the HALO20, a pair of compact radomes expressly designed for use aboard smaller sailboats. The units measure 20in in diameter and weigh a mere 11lb. The HALO20+, in particular, delivers a full 360-degree sweep every ...read more

PICTON CASTLE under sail with stunsls WV7 compressed

Picton Castle Seeks Crew

The Picton Castle is set to begin its eighth circumnavigation this spring under the command of Captain Daniel Moreland. A professional crew of 12 will guide up to 40 trainees at a time as they learn about all aspects of sailing the bark, from steering to lookout, ...read more

DSC_0013

Ask Sail: Keel Attachments

Q: I have an early ‘70s Catalina 27. The keel bolts look pretty good. My question is, why not glass over the keel to bond to the hull rather than changing the bolts if, or when the bolts are too far gone? I haven’t seen anything on this, so could you discuss? Full-keels are ...read more

04-GOPR0511

Book Review: Sailing Into Oblivion

Sailing Into Oblivion by Jerome Rand $15.99, available through Amazon As refreshing and inspiring as Jerome Rand’s 2017-18 solo-circumnavigation may have been, his account of the voyage in the book Sailing Into Oblivion: The Solo Non-Stop Voyage of the Mighty Sparrow may be even ...read more

01-1970-Dec

50 Years of SAIL

Back in early 1970, Bernie Goldhirsh and the recently founded “Institute for the Advancement of Sailing,” publisher of an annual sailboat and gear guide, launched something called SAIL. A half-century later, a look back at the magazine’s first few years provides a glimpse into a ...read more