In 1936 a beautiful boat was built by the famous Fife boatyard in Scotland. Here is an excerpt from her new owners website: “So it was that in 1937 a boat was launched into the sea from the Fife boatyard in Fairlie, a 22-metre yacht called Eilean, which in the Scottish means “little island”.
photo above was taken from the Panerai blog.
She had an interesting history and was based in Antigua doing charters for quite a bit of time in the 80s and 90s. Her most famous charter was one that most of us in our late 30s and 40s have probably seen. Here she is sailing in Antigua with Duran Duran:
Here is some info from wikipedia on the music video:
Music Video: Duran Duran – Rio (2003 Digital Remaster) on YouTube
Director Russell Mulcahy filmed the vivid music video for “Rio”, which featured iconic images of the band in Antony Price suits, singing and playing around on a yacht speeding over the crystal blue Caribbean Sea. Short segments show band members trying to live out their assorted daydreams, only to be teased, tormented, and made fools of by a body-painted vixen Reema Ruspoli.
The music video was shot over the course of three days in May 1982 on the island of Antigua. The yacht scenes were filmed on the bay at English Harbour, the beach scenes at Miller’s Beach, and the bit with the raft at Shirley Heights. Director Mulcahy originally planned a scene where the band members got chased off the island by people wielding guns, but didn’t have enough film footage left to shoot this. He had to borrow a tourist’s camera to shoot the part of Nick Rhodes playing a saxophone on a raft. When the video was featured on VH1’s Pop-up Video, it mentions that after the video was completed, Mulcahy, Simon LeBon, and John Taylor went for a swim and were inches away from sharks when the yacht captain yelled for them to get out of the water. Nick Rhodes was reportedly seasick during the filming, and has often said “I hate boats unless they’re tied up and you’re having cocktails on them.”
While in Antigua, the band also filmed a video for the album track “Waiting for the Nightboat”, which appeared with “Rio” and nine other videos on the Duran Duran video album released in 1983.
As you can see, she was wonderful back then and sailed well here in the great trade winds that we are known for. In the late 90s the luxury yacht charter business changed dramatically and became ever so much more competitive. Eilean’s owner had some difficulty keeping her up to standard and eventually she lay resting in disrepair when the costs associated with running this old wooden vessel overtook the moneys coming in from charters. As I know all to well from owning classic wooden boats in my business, keeping these boats in working order is a monumental challenge and above all, it’s expensive. Eilean sat in the Mangroves, a traditional anchorage for boats during hurricane season, for years becoming more and more weathered and less likely to survive her time there. Then in 2005 something happened that would end up being the reason for this blog. She was rescued! Here you see her in 2005 after she was taken out of the mangroves under new ownership.
At that point she was in pretty bad shape and many thought that Eilean would end up being scrapped here in Antigua. In 2005 the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta was being sponsored by Italian watch company Panerai and it was their decision to buy the old boat and to embark on a fantastic and ambitious rebuild. The photos above and below of Eilean were taken from one of Panerai’s webstes. She was carefully shipped back to Europe where the refit was done over the next few years. No expense was spared.
photo from Watch World
Each year that we raced in Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta we heard more and more about the progress that Panerai was making on this wonderful yacht, and finally this year we were able to see her and race alongside her this year. Eilean was back in Antigua and like new once again in all her splendor thanks to Panarai. The three Jason Pickering photos below were taken from a report on www.antiguanice.com But this wasn’t the only news story about Eilean. What made it even more special was that the band Duran Duran was invited back to sail on her again. I think Simon LeBon was the only member who actually liked sailing and took part in the racing this year, but the rest of the band were on island for the Regatta and made an appearance during the prize giving where Simon gave a short speech about the yacht, their old music video and on their new experience in Antigua. He said it was such an amazing experience to be back on the island and back on this fantastic yacht. He said that back in May of 1982 he and his fellow band members stepped foot on a boat for the first times in their lives. The boat was Eilean. For more info about her and the story of her refit please visit this website.
If you have more info or photos that you think would help tell this story please let me know.