The rumors are true! Star Clippers is building the world’s largest sailing ship.
And she’s a whopper.
Flying Clipper will be the biggest and the most ambitious of the Clipper fleet to date, carrying 300 guests, and powered by 35 sails on five masts. She’s a near-replica of the largest square-rig sailing ship ever, the France II , that was built in 1911 at La Gironde shipyard Bordeaux.
“My childhood dreams of building sailing vessels, accessible to everyone and with all the modern comfort and amenities of a private yacht finally came true,” said Swedish yachtsman and entrepreneur Mikael Krafft, CEO and president of Star Clippers.
The company that’s marking its silver anniversary in 2017 decided the best way to celebrate would be to give the fleet a brand new sailing ship, he added.
Construction of Flying Clipper at the Brodosplit shipyard in Split, Croatia is using techniques that died out a century ago, when steam ships ended the Golden Age of Sails.
Deck crew will hoist 68,000 square feet of sails using miles of ropes and hundreds of pulleys to get the ship under way. While the hull will be made of steel, the decks will be solid teak.
Inside, the ship will be state of the art, with three pools, a water sports and swimming platform in the stern and a diving program. There will be three bars, a library and a dramatic three-level open seating dining room. A spa with fitness, massage and beauty treatments rounds off the amenities.
And, of course, the passenger cabins will be much more elegant and spacious, with a classical nautical feel.
A major improvement over the France II is that Flying Clipper will have four fuel-efficient diesel electric engines. In most cases, the array of 68,000 square feet of sails will provide all the spank the ship needs to keep on schedule. But the engines will help maintain speed if winds aren’t co-operating.
That’s important, because of what happened to France II. The ship had two diesel engines installed when she was delivered in 1911. But these were removed in 1922. Shortly after that, the ship drifted on a windless day onto a shoal near New Caledonia and was wrecked, Krafft noted.
The France II was a phenomenon when it was in service, Krafft said. The five-masted barque that carried both passengers and cargo around the world unseated a German ship named Preussen as the biggest square rigger ever built.
The Preussen was the model for Star Clippers’ current flagship, the 227-guest, five-mast Royal Clipper.
Krafft always wanted to surpass the all-time champ France II with a new ship, and it does handily. While the dimensions are similar the 1911 ship, Flying Clipper will have a longer beam (width) to meet modern stability standards.
Itineraries have yet to be announced, but Flying Clipper is destined to sail in late 2017, spending summers in the Mediterranean and winter in the Caribbean.
Will this be Star Clippers’ last?
The only comment Krafft has is: “I am still dreaming.”