Having cruised and raced around Brittany and the Mediterranean together for the past 15 years, the time has come for Spirit 46 Ilhabela II and her owner to part ways. We caught up with the owner to find out why this yacht will always hold a special place in his heart.
What attracted you to Spirit Yachts?
I first saw the design of the Spirit 46 in a French magazine. I was very curious about the wooden construction, so I came to visit Sean here in Ipswich marina in 2004. The yard has changed a lot since then.
How did you decide on a Spirit 46? What were your criteria for her design?
I was attracted to her aesthetics and beautiful design. I liked the overhangs, the wooden construction was very interesting for me, and I loved the way she was finished.
Where have you kept Ilhabela II over the years?
I have owned Ilhabela for 15 years, so there has been lots of variety. We have had Med seasons, as well as four seasons in La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast. From La Rochelle, we went up to Brittany to Bénodet (300miles from La Rochelle). During the seasons in the Med, we have been to Corsica, Sardinia and over to Italy.
Who do you sail Ilhabela II with?
She is a family boat. I sail with my son and my nephews a lot of the time. We also take out a lot of French high school students. I enjoy teaching them to sail and encourage them to discover the classic regattas instead of the modern ones. They are always very interested and some of them are now true fans of classic yachts.
Tell me about some of your happiest memories or greatest adventures onboard Ilhabela II?
This is a very difficult question to answer. Thinking back over the years, whenever I am onboard Ilhabela I am happy. That’s probably a boring answer, but whenever I step onboard Ilhabela and go sailing I am happy.
Tell me about your racing highlights?
Usually we do all the classic regattas in the Med. The season starts with the Ladies Cup at St Tropez, then it’s Antibes, cruising during July and August, and then Cannes at the end of the season. Antibes is my favourite regatta, it’s the beginning of the season, everyone is excited, the yachts all look fantastic, perhaps there are some new faces out racing. As it is the beginning of the summer, we race in the sunshine and we can see the snow on the mountains behind us, it’s a fantastic place.
What is the furthest distance you have sailed Ilhabela II?
From the south of France, we went up to Sardinia, and on to mainland Italy. We went from the south coast of France, over towards northern Corsica and then down to Sardinia, before cruising over to Italy. We did the trip in legs and had a mixed crew of family and students as usual. We have a database of over 100 students like to crew. Some of the students now know the yacht very well and we have a good relationship with them. We also offer places to people who have never sailed at all. We take maybe one or two total novices at a time, as long as we have other crew with plenty of experience onboard.
What do you love about Ilhabela II?
Her versatility. I can use her as a cruising yacht or a racing yacht and that is something I have really appreciated, because you can extend the time and ways in which you can use her. Also, she is very easy to handle and not difficult to transport. We put her on a truck from the Mediterranean up to the Atlantic French coast very easily.
If we are four onboard, we can do four days at sea with enough storage for water and food, then we have to stop to fill up the water tanks.
If you could have improved anything about Ilhabela II over the years, what would it be?
The exact same yacht but slightly bigger. I am older now and I would like an owner’s cabin for myself.
What do you think about Spirit Yachts now as a company compared to when you first commissioned Ilhabela II?
Wow. Everything has changed. The company has had a fantastic evolution. I can now see about fifty people working out there in the yard. In 2004, there were 15, maybe less. The company remains traditional at its heart and still hand builds the yachts; it’s not a production yard which I like. Spirit has proved a company can grow but still retain the quality and knowledge of its team. It’s a real pleasure to watch them work with the wood. I still feel the same energy as I walk through the door. I’m pleased to see Sean is now surrounded by a great team.
Why are you selling Ilhabela II and what does she offer a new owner?
I am looking for a bigger yacht at the moment. I usually keep my boats for 10 or 11 years and I have had Ilhabela for 15. All I can wish for the next owner is that they have the same pleasure from Ilhabela as I have enjoyed over the years. She is a fantastic yacht; I am still in love with her and I will continue be in love even after I have sold her.
Spirit 46 Ilhabela II Specifications:
Designer: Sean McMillan
Build: Spirit Yachts Ltd.
Displacement: 4.5 tonnes
Engine: Volvo Penta
Rig: Fractional Sloop
Sails: Main, headsail, spinnaker
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