"Stella Lucia", Stella 26 Lying Suffolk
The story of the Stellas began in early 1959 with a yarn between "Sonny" Cole of Tucker Brown's yard at Burnham and A E (Dicky) Bird, owner of a series of successful offshore races that have included La Vie en Rose and Clair de Lune. They agreed on the need in this country of a cruiser racer of the same general size and type as the Scandinavian Folkboat but with more room inside and greater initial stability. They wanted good quality, but no unnecessary frills or complications in the structure. The next step was to approach C R (Kim) Holman, then a comparative newcomer to yacht designing, aged 32. The resultant design was of 25' 10" LOA, 20' LWL, with a beam of 7' 6" and draught of 3' 10". Total sail area is 338 sq ft.The first Stella built in 1959 (La Vie en Rose) cost £1,260! 102 Stella's were built overall.
Stella Lucia has been in the same family ownership for the past 27 years and has been carefully maintained in Webb’s yard at Pin Mill during all that time. She was built at Rowhedge on the river Colne in 1960 and is in remarkably good condition. A survey carried out by Brown & Overbury of Woodbridge in May of 2006 is testament to this.
Although she was designed by C. R. Holman as a fast, seaworthy offshore racing yacht she also has sufficient accommodation to serve as a comfortable small cruiser for two or three people.
Stella Lucia has never been raced hard and, as a result, has not suffered the stresses and strains that have been imposed on some of her sisters. Her hull is tight (although, like all clinker built boats, she “works” a little when pressed), her Sitka Spruce spars are in A1 condition and her wardrobe of Hood sails is in first class order.
She is particularly widely travelled, having visited Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands as well as cruises along the East Coast. Some of the sailing photographs shown were taken during a North Sea crossing to Zeebrugge when, with three aboard, we logged 94 miles in 16 hours. That’s an average of a little less than 6 knots. Not bad for a 25 footer. You can see Lucia punching along as we approached the Belgian coast in a force 6. Eventually the wind rose to gust 7 but by then it was dark and we had things other than photographs on our minds!
She handled magnificently in some pretty rough seas but her fine entry made for some wet moments. It was this experience that prompted the purchase of a custom-made spray hood in 2004.
The Sprayhood may be a little frowned upon by Stella purists, but is wonderful for offshore sailing and it does make for a very comfortable cruising cockpit!