March 2nd 2014. By Louay Habib.

Sailing Superyacht Adela: Almighty Ride

Adela is more than a century old, but thanks to a superb refit she is still a wild ride.

The 182ft twin masted schooner Adela was modified and restored by Pendennis Shipyard and launched in 1995, but she dates back to 1903. Originally constructed by John Goodman Fay & Co, Adela was redesigned, engineered  and beautifully restored by Dykstra Naval Architects. The immense project included an additional section to the beam and a bowsprit to increase the overall length. She is privately owned and not available for charter.

Adela bow shot

The magnificent schooner Adela competes at regattas all over the world and won the America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta Trophy in San Francisco in September 2013.

Adela Rig

“We race Adela as hard as we can,” explained Adela crew boss Guy (Nipper) Salter. “With a choice of up to six sails in the air at one time and a crew of around 35 – 40 people it takes a fair amount of organizing and timing to make things happen. At several hundred tons nothing looks like it happens quickly, but every manoeuver takes split second timing to avoid a disaster on quite a large scale.” Photo: Louay Habib


Adela crew

Salter (top right) continues: “The biggest job as crew boss is not just directing the manoeuvers but making sure I put as much pressure on the tactical department to be sure we are fully committed with every decision. On the approach to the bottom mark the whole drop process can start around three and a half minutes before the rounding – so plenty of management required, over a long period. Every manoeuver takes lot of people away from other jobs – we usually have around 20 people minimum to get a jib or spinnaker down, so last minute decision changes just cannot happen and mistakes are extremely costly.” Photo: Louay Habib

Neil Mackley

Neil “Strapper” Mackley (center) is from the North Sails Gosport UK loft. Having sailed on Adela for four years, just about every sail has been replaced with additions to the inventory, including main staysails. Adela uses North Sails’ 3DL, Panelled Spectra Carbon and 3Di. Photo: Louay Habib

Big Red

Neil Mackley explains the sail inventory: “Big Red as we call it runs at just over 1000 square meters and is used for running. We have a 3A that is smaller and more reaching orientated. Due to the nature of the racing one tends to select a sail for the leg, as peeling is a drawn-out slow process. So ‘Big Red’ is used for VMG running legs, and the A3 for downwind legs that may include a run and a reach. The new genoa staysail fits inside the No.2 headsails helping to balance the sail plan and increase performance. Another sail that was implemented into the inventory was the mainmast staysail, used when sailing 110-160 true.”  Photo: Pendennis


Mackley continues: “The square top fore-main aids in the overall balance of Adela. Sailcloth advances allowed us to build this sail in 3Di, offering a significant weight saving. Once made and fitted we could see the advances that the sail cloth and design achieved, with the larger sail twisting and de-powering much more effectively. Adela also has a 3Di reaching main-mast staysail used at TWA of 90-120 and a larger prestige staysail for use under the headsails.” Photo: Kevin Johnstone

Adela–classic look; latest technology

From afar, Adela looks 100 years old, but up close, the schooner has the latest in communication and navigation technology, including navigational equipment from B&G. For ship to shore communications, VHF is standard but enhanced by a V-SAT satellite communication system, which delivers an ‘always on’ broadband internet service.

Stan Pearson

Stan the man: Stan Pearson often helms Adela and was one of the instigators of the RORC Caribbean 600 and The Superyacht Challenge Antigua. Photo: Louay Habib

Chris Mason

The line speed on the Lewmar winches can be 160 meters per minute, which requires trimmers like Chris Mason to have incredible hand speed. Loads on lines and rigging are off the charts: the spinnaker staysail alone can generate 3 tons of load and the mainsail up to 50 tons.

Designed in the spirit of tradition but bristling with the latest sail, rigging and marine electronics, sailing on Adela is a quite an experience. On top of all that technology, the crew are amazing to watch. Adela at full pelt is a very dangerous environment and the crew have to be incredibly precise as well as bold as brass.

Adela is a classic boat that has proved to be very competitive, and more and more events are programmed onto her schedule. She competed in The Superyacht Challenge Antigua in January and is taking part in the sixth edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 to defend her class win from last year.

Many thanks to skipper Greg Perkins.

S/Y Adela Specifications

Built | Refit Length Builder
1903/1995 55.50m (182’1″ft) Pendennis Shipyard
Guests Beam Naval Architect
8 7.90m  (25’11″ft) Dykstra Naval Architects
Cabins Draft  
4.80m (15’8″ft)
Crew Speed  
9 17 Knots


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Louay Habib

Louay Habib is a freelance journalist and broadcaster based in the UK who writes for some of the most prestigious magazines and clubs all over the world, including the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Volvo Ocean Race.