SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Maine — The largest yacht ever built by The Hinckley Co. — a 76-foot, custom-made boat that has sailed around the world — was welcomed home to Southwest Harbor on Monday by several dozen employees and sailing aficionados.
For Hinckley employees, the boat named Freesia is significant for a number of reasons other than its size.
Launched in 1993 under the name Sea Anne, the boat was the first yacht produced using composite construction that combines modern materials such as Kevlar and carbon fiber with classic wooden styling. That process is now standard at Hinckley, an 83-year-old manufacturer of high-end sailboats and power boats.
“This is the one that really started the whole thing,” said Philip Bennett, vice president of sales for Hinckley.
Docked at Hinckley’s shipyard for routine maintenance, the renamed Freesia returned to Southwest Harbor for the first time since 1997 after years of sailing to ports throughout northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and North America.
The boat originally was commissioned by a European man who apparently traveled in elite circles, given the fact that one of the staterooms was designed for — and apparently used by — the king and queen of Norway, according to Bennett.
The cabin area is finished throughout with raised-panel mahogany polished to a high gloss and features at least four staterooms.
“She is really a boat that belies her looks,” Bennett said while standing next to the white-hulled sloop docked at the company’s shipyard just outside downtown Southwest Harbor. “He wanted her to look old-fashioned but wanted her to be a modern boat.”
The current owner, who purchased the boat in early 2010 and rechristened it Freesia, was not present Monday and asked not to be identified, Bennett said.