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Barbara, one hundred years of sailing

by Alessandro Bagno 7 Dec 2023 07:24 UTC
Barbara racing at Capraia Island © P. Maccione

Launched in 1923 in England, the Camper & Nicholsons yacht Barbara was the protagonist of an enthralling season of events and regattas in the Mediterranean, offering the rare opportunity for a first-hand testimony to the glorious history of world yachting.

After 6 months at sea, 3200 miles travelled and 18 events in four countries, the Florentine yachtowner Roberto Olivieri just concluded the sailing tour celebrating his boat's 100 years.

The centenary sailing tour

With 3200 miles in 6 months, attending 18 events and regattas in four countries, more than 150 passionate sailing friends taking turns on board, the 15 meter yawl of Florentine Roberto Olivieri celebrated her 100 years since the launch.

"With Barbara it was love at first sight. She immediately became the perfect location to share moments of joy during holidays and regattas with relatives and friends" says the owner Roberto Olivieri. "I don't feel like an owner, but rather a keeper, aware of the privilege, but also of the responsibility to take care of this jewel of nautical culture from the last century, still sailing, and to preserve it for future generations. I'm always pleased to welcome on board young sailors of local clubs and students from nautical schools, as we did in Alassio."

This successful and intense season was possible with the support of the supplier of renewable electricity for domestic consumers and SMEs, Frisbi Società Benefit (, committed to protecting the environment for a sustainable future.

Built in Gosport with teak and pitch-pine planking on a white oak frame based on a design by Charles Ernest Nicholson, one of the greatest naval designers in history, Barbara is one of the first examples of easy sailing, with a Bermudan rig with triangular sails and two masts, which allows navigation with a reduced crew.


Commissioned by Herbert Hines, she spent a few more years in England with the London sailor Harold Francis Edwards. In the late 1920s she was transferred to northern France by her new owner, Baron Amaury de la Grange, Senator and important aviator who established the French Aeronautical Institute (IAAG). Later she graces the waters of the French Riviera with Commander Jean de Vogue, whose family owned Moët & Chandon and created Dom Pérignon brand in those years. Moored between Cannes and Monaco for several decades, Barbara thus hosted memorable sailing and unforgettable parties in the name of glamour.

In 1982 she was the support boat for the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in 24 days by windsurf which entered the Guinness Book of Records. After being abandoned at the end of the century in Spain, she was transferred to the Cantiere Navale Francesco del Carlo in Viareggio, where she was brought back to her former glory with a long restoration based on the original drawings from 1923 found at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, led by a team of expert professionals and with the precious support of the Vele Storiche Viareggio association, of which she is now the flag-bearer. Since her arrival in Italy, the command of Barbara has been entrusted to the Florentine skipper Vincenzo Zaccagni.

A successful season

These were the stopovers on Barbara's centenary tour: San Vincenzo, Punta Ala, Genoa, Le Grazie, Capraia/Elba, Argentario, Gaeta, Naples, Barcelona, Palma, Pollença, Mahon, Imperia, Monaco, Alassio, Cannes, Saint Tropez, Viareggio. In every place Barbara was admired and awarded: first place in the itinerant regatta on the Island of Capraia, Tirrenia II Trophy for the most interesting offshore navigation, AIVE Tirreno Cup and the AIVE Special Prize for the adventurous season, a photo exhibition at Cantiere della Memoria, Roberta Talamoni Memorial Cup and celebrations with the Bersaglieri fanfare together with all the citizens at Le Grazie.

At Monaco Classic Week culinary competition the silver medal was received for the lobster and turbot dish prepared by Giuliano Tommasini, Chef of Cadò restaurant in Cosio d'Arroscia, Imperia. Of Tuscan origin, Tommasini was on board also during Imperia's regatta, cooking traditional dishes from the Ligurian hinterland such as turle, a typical stuffed pasta. An homage to the centenary was also received from the Maison DAPHNÉ Sanremo who created a unique scarf immortalising Barbara on sustainable silk.

The timeless elegance of a lady of the sea

At the Voiles de Saint Tropez Barbara had the honor of participating, together with other 22 boats, in the twelfth edition of the Gstaad Yacht Club Centenary Trophy, a regatta reserved exclusively for centenary yachts. Chosen by important stylists for fabulous photo shoots and the September cover article of the prestigious Classic Boat magazine, after Naples and Imperia the Viareggio gathering also awarded her the Award for Elegance, with the unmistakable crew in the stylish uniform of white and blue striped jumpers, long trousers and boater hats. During Viareggio regattas, double birthday on board with friend Marco Damonte Prioli, experienced sailor and General Director of San Martino Polyclinic Hospital in Genoa, a cutting-edge center with a century of glorious history behind it.

British luxury and Italian style: from Gosport to the English Pearl of West Liguria

Historically a winter resort for English aristocrats and artists and home to the centenary Hanbury Tennis Club opened in 1923 by the great tennis player Henry Lacoste, on 22th September Alassio hosted an unforgettable ceremony for Barbara's 100th birthday at the port Luca Ferrari, presided over by Rinaldo Agostini and directed by Marino Agnese. At the celebration also Pilgrim, a 14-meters wooden Laurent Giles from 1971, flagship of Reale Yacht Club Canottieri Savoia of Naples, with her young skipper and owner Emmanuele Dalla Vecchia, son of legendary Pippo, for decades the President of RYCCS, one of the most prestigious and charming sailing clubs in the Med. "Welcoming boats of such great prestige was an honor for Alassio", commented the Mayor Marco Melgrati, wishing his town a bright future in this sporting sector.

Frisbi, only natural energy

Frisbi Società Benefit was the main sponsor of Barbara's demanding tour. With supplies for domestic consumers and SMEs of only renewable electricity and the creation of energy communities, Italy is at the forefront of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil energy sources. Offering clean, accessible and affordable energy solutions, improving energy security and promoting greener development and a more sustainable future for our planet are principles supported by Barbara's friends.

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