May / June 2022

Aboard: LATIFA

A 1936 Fife yawl

The William Fife III yawl LATIFA was launched in 1936 as a fast and comfortable cruiser. Here, she is sailing off Camden, Maine, in autumn 2021, just before departing on a cruise that will take her to Tahiti.

LATIFA, a 70' yawl designed and built by William Fife III, was commissioned as a fast, comfortable cruiser in 1936 by Michael Mason. Mason was involved in espionage at the outbreak of World War II, and is thought to have been one of the inspirations for Ian Fleming’s James Bond character. He made his inaugural cruise in her to Madeira and raced her in both the Fastnet and Bermuda races. A likeness of LATIFA still adorns the weathervane of the parish church in Fairlie, Scotland, home of her builder.

Unlike many large yachts of her era, LATIFA never suffered the indignity of being laid up in a mud bank. She has been in commission since launching, although was a bit tired by the time she came into the hands of an Italian owner, Mario Pirri, who lavished careful and consistent attention on her. During the course of his 38-year ownership, Pirri splined the hull, replaced or strengthened aging steel floor timbers and chainplates, refurbished the deck, and reconfigured the interior. His voyaging career in her included 11 solo transatlantic voyages and a voyage into the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean, and home to the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.

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