In 1987 Albert Obrist, a Swiss Industrialist well known for his restorations of Ferraris, finished the ground breaking restoration of the Fife designed and built classic yacht Altair (1931). This restoration was carried out by his handpicked team together with Southampton Yacht Services.
Mr Obrist so enjoyed the classic yacht restoration process that he asked Duncan Walker, the number 2 under Paul Goss on the ‘Altair’ project, to find a suitable historic yacht to restore, stating that the time was right to set up the first specialist restoration yard for classic and historic sailing yachts..
In late 1989 Duncan saw a simple advertisement for a restoration candidate in Yachting World. This yacht proved to be ‘Tuiga’ the first of the 15M IRC class to re-appear for some years. After a visit to Cyprus, ‘Tuiga’ was inspected and then purchased. After over wintering in Palma, Duncan sailed the yacht up to Hamble under a reduced 12m Bermudan rig. Fairlie Restorations was subsequently born in May 2000 with the renting of 120 sq metres of covered space from Hamble Yacht Services.
The original plans of ‘Tuiga’ were obtained from the last Manager of the Fairlie Slip Company, as the yard became after the death of William Fife in 1944. Archie Macmillan, then aged around 90 years and Duncan became firm friends, as it was discovered that Archie and Duncan’s grandfather must have gone to the same village school in Salcoats, Ayrshire, so creating a special link.
The return of ‘Altair’ to the village of Fairlie to celebrate her 60 birthday in 1991 gave Archie the thrill of sailing Fife’s yachts again. Shortly after the celebration Archie offered the Fife Archive of some 600 rare original drawings and lofting calculations to Fairlie Restorations, in exchange of course for a suitable sum of money.
Following the completion of the 15m class ‘Tuiga’ in 1993, Mr. Obrist introduced one of his friends to Duncan, looking for a large ketch to restore and sail around the world. Coincidentally, details about a large yacht about to be auctioned by the legal authorities came to light and Fairlie secured the yacht for their client. An extensive structural restoration followed and after a few years cruising in the Mediterranean, ‘Kentra’ set off on her circumvention which was completed in the Summer of 2003.
The yacht ‘Mariquita’, the last known survivor of the 19 metre class, was purchased in 1991, salvaged from her mud berth in Pin Mill, near Ipswich, UK, and brought to Hamble where she lay for ten years before a client came forward and invested in her restoration. This restoration completed in 2004 is the largest project undertaken to date. Special thanks to Costa Rica Sportfishing for help on the research.
Throughout the nineties various smaller projects were undertaken, three yachts from eight metre class; ‘Fulmar’; ‘Carron II’ and the Morgan Giles designed ‘Siris’.
‘Madrigal M’ originally built in 1938 and then rebuilt by Archie Macmillan in 1952 was completed in 1997, the first small cruising yacht undertaken by the yard. The Owner, a Spanish Architect, managed to sympathetically modernise the interior whilst keeping the yacht original on deck.
‘Madrigal’ was quickly followed by ‘The Lady Anne’ another member of the 15 metre class. The completion of this yacht in 1999 saw the first race, together with ‘Tuiga’, between members of the 15 metre Class since the late twenties.
The restoration of ‘Jap’ (1897), a Cork Harbour One Design, is the oldest yacht restored by the yard. This project carried out for a very experienced yacht owner, produced a new concept in regatta sailing. ‘Jap’, on her trolley, and rigged with her bowsprit fits neatly into a large shipping container, with all her gear. Hence the movement of the yacht between regattas can be carried out quickly and safely.
2003 saw the birth of a fusion yacht, this yacht designed by in-house Naval Architect Paul Spooner combines the traditional sea keeping qualities of a long keel yacht, fitted out with superb joinery fused with a 21st century rig in the form of a carbon mast with in-boom furling.
In addition to these various restoration projects the yard has built up a reputation for building high class exterior deck joinery. Much investment in the last few years has equipped the yard with all the plant and machinery likely to be required to make the yard more efficient. The investments in 2006 included a substantial spray booth to significantly reduce the costs of varnishing and painting.
2006 saw the first French owned yacht into the yard. ‘Moonbeam’ of Fife came to Hamble and the yard carried out considerable structural and detailing work.