Some say that she is the most beautiful sailing ship ever built; we will tell you the history of Camper & Nicholson’s most beautiful creation: Creole.
It begins in 1926 when a rich American, Alec Cochran, decided to build the most beautiful sailing ship in the world. Cochran asked for a simple cruising rig that would require the minimum crew. Nicholson developed a staysail schooner rig in which no spars had to be hoisted aloft and all the sails were self-tacking except the jib.
Under the ownership of Major Maurice Pope, a Royal Yacht Squadron member, she acquired her legendary name Creole, but it was not until she passed into the hands of a new owner Sir Connop Guthrie in 1937 that Creole regained her original splendour and she finally sailed under the conditions envisaged at the time of her creation. She participated in many regattas.
In 1939, the Second World War broke out. Creole was requisitioned by the Royal Navy, her interior stripped out, she was renamed Magic Circle and transformed into a mine hunter. She sailed close of to Scotland throughout the conflicts and lost her masts. She was returned to the family at the end of the war, but was later abandoned.
In 1947 Creole was in near derelict condition but still she caught the eye of the Greek ship-owner Stavros Niarchos who decided to purchase her and take her to Germany for a refit. The largest roof, which contains the living room, was slightly increased. Niarchos lavished attention on Creole, reportedly decorating her main saloon with Dalì murals and fitting a special air-conditioned gallery with fabulous works of art by Cezanne, Renoir, Van Gogh and Dagas. In the beginning, Niarchos often lived on board Creole, he worked and sailed on her regularly and even participated in the first ever Tall Ship race. A very meticulous person, Niarchos required that the crew maintained his sailing ship in perfect condition.
Niarchos loved entertaining on Creole, spending much of his time aboard. During this time, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia spent part of their honeymoon on board.
In 1977, the Danish government bought Creole and made her into a ship-school. However, the yacht was used in social purposes. After five years, Creole was almost a wreck.
Yachting has been most fortunate in recent years with the number of owners willing to put care, attention and resources into restoring and maintaining classic yachts. There have been many sad losses but Creole’s story found a happy future when she was bought by Maurizio Gucci in 1983.
Maurizio Gucci discovered her and developed a passion for this great three master schooner. Creole was ready for a complete refurbishment. The hull was completely stripped bare, teak planking restored as necessary and all the tanks, piping and wiring replaced. The new engine room runs the length of the yacht, under the accommodation, and while new technology has been incorporated it was done so respecting Creole's heritage. Re-rigging was carried out by Spencer of Cowes and the sails were supplied by Ratsey & Lapthorn.
The restoration of Creole was a success, her installation is beautiful, the main deck exhibits several roofs. The Largest one contains the ample lounge. Others further forward contain the pilothouse and the navigation room.
The lower deck accommodates five guest staterooms (aft), the dining room and owner's suite ( in the centre), and the crew quarters (at the front).
There is no more beautiful sight than Creole in full sail.