George Owen P Class Yacht

"George Owen's yachts could even be said to be beautiful, and this adjective could only be truthfully applied to a few things in this world."  

L. Francis Herreshoff


Bernice 1916 P Class 

Bernice History

Bernice was built in 1916 by Hodgdon Brothers in East Boothbay, Maine, to design by George Owen, a renowned naval architect and one of the early professors of naval architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  Hodgdon Brothers, a family-owned boatyard that is nearly 200 years old, built many of the yachts designed by Owen.  Bernice is 55 ft LOD, 37 ft LWL, 10.5 ft beam, and 7.7 ft draft with 29,000 lbs displacement.  She was originally rigged as a gaff sloop and is believed to be the last surviving P class yacht designed by Owen, who produced a large number of highly successful racing boats to Universal Rule and otherwise.

Bernice raced initially on the east coast of the US where she won many races and championships, and then from 1919 on the Great Lakes as part of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club's  fleet.  Bernice established a reputation as the fastest P class boat on the Great Lakes, winning virtually every major trophy available there, starting with her inaugural 1919 race for the Prince of Wales Cup.  The cup was presented to her crew by HRH Edward, Prince of Wales, future King Edward VIII, in person.  Bernice proceeded to win (sometimes more than once) the Queen's Cup, Fisher Cup, Lansdowne Cup, Cosgrave Cup, McGaw Cup, Telegram International Trophy and numerous other trophies.  We still own over 60 racing flags (mostly gold), some dating back to early 1920s.

In the 1930s, Bernice was re-rigged as a marconi yawl, the rig she has retained ever since, and equipped with an auxiliary engine.

From the 1960s, Bernice was cruised extensively on the Great Lakes.  She was owned by the same family for over 30 years until we bought her in 2006 and brought her back to the East Coast. 

Starting in late 2006 Bernice underwent an 18 months long restoration (her first since built) at Rockport Marine in Rockport, Maine (Wooden Boat Magazine No. 196).  The restoration was assisted by Wooden Boat Magazine's technical editor as well as staff of the Hart Nautical Collection at the MIT Museum, where extensive collection of George Owen's designs and half models is maintained, including plans for and a model of Bernice

During the restoration, her entire backbone and deck were replaced, as well as most of the frames.  The majority of her planking was preserved (she is double planked) as were most of the spars, though most running and standing rigging was replaced and an entirely new suite of sails was made in East Boothbay, Maine.  All systems were replaced and the interior was altered somewhat, though in keeping with the original as much as possible, to convert a pure racer into a racer cruiser with comfortable accommodations for six.  We are fortunate to have been able to preserve Bernice's original dinghy, also designed by George Owen in 1916.

Over the winter of 2010/11, and following extensive historic research and careful design, Bernice's rig was sympathetically rebuilt in order to refine the rig alteration that began in the 1930s.  A new suite of sails was built by Doyle Sailmakers in strict keeping with Bernice's classic appearance and finish.

Since her restoration, Bernice won or placed within the top 3 in numerous classic boat regattas in New York and New England.  She also won the Concours d'Elegance 1st place at Mystic Seaport's Wooden Boat Show in 2008 and 2009, and 1st place at New York Classic Week Concours d'Elegance in 2009 and 2011.

We look forward to the joy of sailing her in her 98th year and beyond, and to sharing her with friends, of which she has many.