Anyone who’s had the chance to
Wings et al at the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta can confirm that these
thoroughbreds are breathtaking in action. Crowds flock the marinas after racing
has ended to take in the assembly of teak, mahogany and brass and to imagine
what it would be like to own such a beauty.
Since 1989, a French company based in the
Dominican Republic has been making
this dream come true. Well, sort of. Abordage, named
after the cry used by French Pirates on boarding a galleon, is a high-end model
ship builder specialising in full replicas and half hulls. Located in
San Cristobal, Abordage employs some 30 skilled craftsmen.
Originally, the company was launched to build 500th
anniversary replicas of Columbus’
Pinta and Santa Maria,
using plans supplied by the Maritime Museum of Barcelona. Over the years, the
range has been extended to Classic replicas, modern racing yachts and custom
builds of everyday cruisers.
Each model takes over a hundred hours to complete. The original design
drawings are taken to make the jig patterns. Deck hardware is examined and
recreated separately in brass, steel or acrylic. The hulls are constructed
using the traditional plank on bulkhead or hand laid-up resin methods, using
teak, mahogany, laurel and maple. The wood is processed in strips and the hull
painted with 10 coats of primer and varnish, which is then hand sanded. Dacron
and steel wire are used for the rigging.
For this end, the facility includes three painting workshops, a wood
workshop, silver casting and chroming department and a miniature parts workshop
with precision equipment. Once the boat is finished, it receives the official
stamp from Philippe Herbreteau, Wood Art Expert from L’Ecole Boulle in Paris.
The price of each boat reflects the work that goes into it, and the
extraordinary attention to detail. For $1,770, you can take delivery of a
replica J Class such as Shamrock or Velsheda, while
$1,600 is the tag for a modern America’s
Cup yacht like BMW Oracle, Prada or
Team New Zealand. Many of these models
are used as prizes, awards or corporate gifts. Some 500 custom builds have also
been commissioned by owners, designers and shipyards. These include Classics
such as Ticonderoga
and Britannia, or just simple
cruising boats like Swans, Catalinas and Megayachts.
Half Hulls, which really show off the line and keel – whether full
or bulb – come in at around $275.
Abordage has exhibited at the Antigua Classic
Yacht Regatta and was the official model maker for the
America’s Cup Jubilee in 2001 in
Cowes. Owners include
President Fernandez, President Bush Sr, the US Hereshoff Museum and a whole bunch of armchair boat-lovers
who want to be able to enjoy a Classic yacht without the trauma of trying to
More information is available on www.abordage.com