Frédéric Rolland reports on his "incredible adventure: becoming the owner of Dame Pattie (KA-2)" and shares a photo gallery of detailing the extensive restoration in progress
Submitted by Frédéric Rolland
I’m going to try with the low level of my English to give you a good report about this incredible adventure: becoming the owner of Dame Pattie (KA-2).
First of all, she was for sale through an auction in 2017 after she was abandoned by her previous owner (since five or six years, even more…) for tax reasons unpaid in South of France (the boat was sold by the French government). This is one of the reasons to explain the terrible state of the boat at that time, especially the metallic structure of the hull. Even if the inside looked great!
The boat was in a disaster condition and, after expertise, I realize that she was in real danger, almost close to sink. My own expertise after taking out all the inside makes me realize that she certainly had, during couple of years, a large quantity of salty water inside, under the wood floor, including the engine, but not visible.
I decided to start a really heavy restoration according to the beauty, the exceptional design, the incredible history of this boat named Dame Pattie. Even if the boat has been refitted (in 2000) to become more a cruising 12MJl than a pure racing one. The roof has good proportions and the boat keeps the spirit of being a 12 MJI.
The adventure started by putting her on a truck to come back to my region, in Brittany. The mast was put on a different truck. It took a while to organize the expedition and I decided to create my own shipyard to start the renovation. So, I rented a piece of land and built around the boat the necessary hangar to provide a good condition for renovation.
I bought wood cutting machines and organized everything: containers, tools… Then I looked for carpenters and high skilled workers which I could hire from shipyards. In 2018, we could start the work.
I’m an architect, and I wasn’t scared to carry such a big, unexpected but wonderful project. I had to look for documentations, plans, historical pictures and everything that could help to take care of this old lady, so badly treated. You can see, from the pictures I selected, the amount of efforts and difficulties I went through. The budget is still a problem because you can easily imagine that I am over, over, and over budget according to the initial idea of it.
The pictures selected shows you the different stages of the work, and today I can consider that the entire structure of the boat has been reconditioned in stainless steel. I redesigned many details with a total respect from the original conception. One of the big steps for us was to take out the plomb ballast to remove a new long wood keel, the difficulty of this process was to move down the weight of the lest in a little tiny space… By the way, we changed the 20 bronze bolts with difficulties fixed in the lest (since 1967). All those decisions were absolutely necessary to save the boat…
I consider that about 30% of the wood planks heavily rotten and have to remove and replace them with pine trees from Oregon. So was the bustle (partly destroyed), added on the original hull before the America’s Cup 1967 (certainly for better performance). I decided to not reconstitute it (too complex) and keep the original design of M. Warwick Wood after checking all the plans. (Curiously, those original plans don’t mention the design and the conception of the bustle, certainly built after some sailling tests before or after leaving Australia for the US?).
The deck has to be removed too. I have provided the teak wood for it (teak from Birmany). We will start the work this summer. The engine, and electrical work, are under control as well. Unfortunately, the mast seems to be out of order. As you can imagine I still have a long way before sailing on Dame Pattie. Maybe, less than 2 years, I hope…
It takes a lot of energy, and money, but the result should be at the level of the symbol and history of this boat even if today, the real 12MJl Dame Pattie has been refitted as a cruising more than a racing 12MJl. But the design of the hull is still the same! So will be the mast and sails.
I hope that you will enjoy looking at this report. I selected some pictures out of the thousands and thousands of them, and of course I hope that one day I would be able to join ITMA.
About Frédéric Rolland:
Just some words about myself: I am a French architect, 66 years old. I made part of my studies in Colombia University in NYC, Manhattan in 1986. My wife is an architect as well, born in Taiwan, grown up on the East Coast of the US. We have an office in France and in Shanghai. I have been sailing since my childhood in Brittany. I’m from the yacht club of La Baule. My boat is a Danish boat (1982) and I have her from the past 40 years. She is a BIANCA 414 (architect Yan KJAÉRULF) a wonderful boat inspired by the 12MJl. Many races between Portugal, Spain, Ireland, England with always the same pleasure after 40 years, I’ve been taken care of her well and she is in a perfect condition.