July 6th 2013. By Zuzana Prochazka.

Altair, 1931 Fife Schooner Offers Unique Opportunity to Race or Cruise

Not just anyone can say their race boat is 82 years old, but if you purchase Altair, a1931 Fife-designed schooner, those words could pass your lips.

Built by William Fife & Sons to mimic their other famous racing schooners, Altair was launched as yard project number 789 and went to her first owner, Captain H. MacCaw, who wanted a fast, safe cruiser that would take him to the South Seas. He commissioned her in 1929 but never made the trip and Altair sold to a succession of owners until in 1940, she was sold to the British Admiralty and went to war. After her service, Altair was purchased by Miguel Sans Mora and was based in Spain for the next 34 years, during which time she received loving care—and eventually, with a new owner, expert restoration.

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Altair was built in 1931 and professionally restored in 2007.

Altair is a full keel, two-masted schooner of teak planking on oak frames. Her spruce spars were serviced in 2007 at the same time as her standing and running rigging. She has a full suit of Ratsey & Lapthorn cruising sails and additional racing sails. To manage the sails, the vessel has eight Barient and four Lewmar 24V electric winches. There is also the original Thomas Reid anchor windlass in working order and a Gardner diesel main engine from 2007.

Altair’s interior has been meticulously maintained. Her paneled, polished and classically furnished saloon exudes old-world charm with acres of shiny varnish and nickel and chrome fittings. There is an owner’s suite, a VIP stateroom, a double cabin and two guest single cabins. Commodious crew quarters, including a skipper’s cabin, are discreetly separated from the guest living spaces. There are two heads, two shower compartments and a day head. The galley has been upgraded with the latest high-end appliances so the chef will miss nothing in presenting splendid meals to Altair’s guests. And with 700 gallons of fuel and 660 gallons of water, Altair will be comfortable on cruises of extended lengths.

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Altair exudes old-world charm with acres of shiny varnish on deck and down below.

A fun bonus is Altair’s fleet of tenders, which include a restored 1931, 21-foot Albin launch with a 12 hp outboard, a 1987 copy of a 14-foot J Perry sailing dinghy, and a completely modern 15-foot Airmar tender with a 70 hp Yamaha outboard.

Today, Altair has an American owner and is one of the few vessels of her kind still afloat and in excellent condition. She lies in France, awaiting her next owner. Altair is a capable cruiser but given her pedigree, she can also be campaigned as a race boat with a reasonable expectation of winning her class.

Specifications: LOA 133’ 10” • LWL 107’ 8” • Beam 20’ 6” • Draft 13’ 9” • Displacement 155,000 lbs • Designer William Fife III

For more information, view Altair’s listing on YachtWorld



Zuzana Prochazka
Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to Boats.com and YachtWorld.com, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site, TalkoftheDock.com.