September / October 2022

Catching Up with KELPIE

The life and revival of a 1903 Alfred Mylne cutter
The cutter KELPIE


Designed by Alfred Mylne and built in 1903 by the J.G. Fay & Co. boatyard in Southampton, England, the cutter KELPIE represents a fascinating snapshot of yachting history. Under recent ownership, her rig has been optimized. The original jackyard topsail has been replaced with an unsparred sail with a deep roach and battens, but the Ratsey & Lapthorne flying jib made in 2015 could never be improved upon.

It’s a windless morning as we head out of the Hamble River in the 1903 gaff cutter KELPIE for the last sail under her current ownership. A last-minute invitation had been sent out to more than 100 people, knowing that only a handful might turn up. The crew is thus a mixed bunch, and far less experienced than you’d imagine possible. Of the nine people on board, two have never sailed before, three have very limited experience, and only four are seasoned sailors.

“I have sailed on KELPIE once before,” says 25-year-old Maggio Carizi, a London-based art events manager. “I brought my bikini [the first time] because I thought it would be like when I went ‘sailing’ in Italy and everyone just sunbathed and drank cocktails. Sailing in England was a bit different, and I actually had to pull ropes and stuff. This time,” she says, she and her friends are “wearing proper clothes for sailing.”

This mixed-experience crew is par for the course for this 50' wooden racing yacht. KELPIE has made a name for herself in recent years by taking on some of the top classic yachts on the prestigious Mediterranean circuit, pitting her amateur crew against the professionals, including several Olympians, and, more often than not, coming out on top. Indeed, the yacht’s current owner, Pelham Olive, seems to have made it his mission to introduce as many people as possible to the delights of sailing a vintage wooden yacht, even if it is partly out of necessity.

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