Celebrating 20 years since the build of SY Rebecca at Pendennis







Watch Rebecca’s 20th anniversary video. 

The Germán Frers-designed Rebecca is one of the largest ketches to be built at Pendennis to date, and is without doubt one of the finest modern sailing yachts in the world.

2019 marks the 20th anniversary of her build – her Owner wished to combine all of the best elements of yachts from the mid-19th century to the modern day, in a stylish, eye-catching yacht which would give high performance under sail. Germán Frers produced drawings for a 42-metre yacht with fine lines and a graceful shear, which is both extremely attractive and performance-minded. The interior by Robin Black is light and elegant, consisting largely of off-white fielded panelling. Unusually, the sole is made from antique heart pine salvaged from a North American mill built in 1711.

In September 1996, Trevor Hawken was starting to prepare the quote to build Frers’ 42-metre design. Having worked as the Electrical Manager at Pendennis and then as Project Manager for the restoration of classic motor yacht Fair Lady, he had built up a wealth of knowledge and experience of custom yacht build and refit. By February of the next year, Trevor had become the full-time Project Manager for Rebecca, and was dedicating all of his time to completing the build. That year, Pendennis also had 45m MY Ilona in build, J Class Shamrock V under refit, and was constructing the aluminium structure for the Lord’s Cricket Ground Media Centre. Trevor has fond memories of the Rebecca build and still works at Pendennis to this day.

“I’d just finished managing the restoration of Fair Lady in 1996 and moved straight on to the build of Rebecca. Pendennis at that time had around 200 permanent employees, and we started building the hull in the shipyard in 1997 from a cut package. We built numerous mock-ups to help the Owner decide on the final profile, deckhouse shape, sheer and stern details, including a 1:1 scale model of the transom to stern in timber. We also modelled three different bow profiles – raked, plumb and a more conventional style. Rebecca’s library was also mocked up in full scale in the US – complete with bookshelves full of books, paintings, working gas fire and a dining table and chairs – at which the Owner, owner’s representative Jon Barrett and Henk even ate dinner in a true test of her design and layout! The Owner knew that he wanted to get her just right – and I think he did. She’s a beautiful yacht and the very fact that she is in such great shape today is due to her thoughtful design and meticulous planning, and careful maintenance over the past 20 years. We had a great team building Rebecca – some of whom are still working at Pendennis now. That just proves the continuity that the shipyard is able to provide: when Rebecca came back to Pendennis in 2013 for a refit, we were able to utilise the knowledge and expertise of the tradespeople that originally built her. So much has changed at Pendennis since Rebecca was launched 20 years ago, but one thing that remains exactly the same is the “Pendennis spirit”. Our people are passionate, highly skilled, and have broad experience across a range of yachts, and that’s always been the case. Something that stands out to me is how technology has changed. We take for granted now that we can communicate almost effortlessly with anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time. When we built Rebecca, few had access to email communication and in fact the Owner used to write comments on Post-it notes and fax them through to us at the shipyard! That seems archaic now but at the time, it worked. Of course computer technology has also advanced so that 3D models and photo-realistic renderings are the norm now, however we do still build mock-ups which are often invaluable.

Our facilities at Pendennis are probably the biggest difference now – the evolution of the shipyard over 30 years has been continuous and has catalysed the growth of the company. When we launched Rebecca we didn’t have a travel hoist – she was lowered carefully into the water down a slipway. Today, we can launch and haul out much larger yachts in just a few hours using our 800-tonne travel hoist and the addition of our non-tidal wet basin has been revolutionary to our operation. Yachts can use the basin for both pre and post works; it also provides us with a purpose-built bay for hauling out and means that we are not dependent on tides, as well as giving us a protected environment for yachts up to 90m.

Even after Rebecca was launched and she had crossed the Atlantic, I followed her around the world to support her Owner and crew, and we actually still do that now under the umbrella of our Pendennis Yacht Support service. What’s lovely is that even now, when we sit with the project team and crew, you see some of those same faces that were involved in the build in 1999. She’s a beautifully maintained yacht and quite a spectacle out on the water – I feel very fortunate to have been a part of her story.”

Photo copyright Cory Silken