Marga is a 10 m I.R. Gaff Cutter measuring 51 ft. (15.60 m), built in 1910 by C.O. Liljegren, a notable naval architect trained by N. Herreshoff, one of the most acclaimed architects, alongside William Fife and John Alden, for a Swedish Diplomat, Fredrick Forsberg, to compete in the 1912 Olympics in Gothenburg. Her razor-sharp lines and vast sail plan is the epitome of the purebred classic racing yacht. She has alternating wood and steel frames of excellent quality.
In the 1912 Olympics Marga achieved 4th place, but judging from her later successes it’s safe to assume that she could easily have brought home the gold, had it not been for the choice of a wrong tack.
Marga lived in Copenhagen for many years. During her long life, many modifications had been conducted. Her Gaff rig was changed to Bermudian, and the companion way changed into a deck house.
After being rediscovered in Italy almost by chance by the current owners, award-winning restoration and painstaking historical research lasting four years triumphantly brought her back to the racing circuit, where she and her competent crew keep gracing the Mediterranean regatta season with great achievement.
Her aerodynamic shape, curving slightly down towards the sides, hint at her ability to reach exhilarating speeds, and long before stepping aboard (and even after disembarking) a thrilled smile is difficult to wipe off her crew’s faces.
“A strong hull with aggressive forms, even a little brutal, but with a sail plan more beautiful than any other Swedish yacht”. (Swedish Magazine c. 1910-1910).
Marga was designed by C.O.Liljegren and built by Hästholm Boatyard in Sweden in 1910. The first owner was the Swedish Diplomat, Consul Fredrick Forsberg.
She took part in the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm in the 10 M I.R. class under Swedish flag. To be more precise, Marga is a 1st rule 10 M I.R. Gaff Cutter. There were only four yachts of the 10M class participating in this tournament: Gallia II of Russia; Nina of Finland; Kitty and Marga of Sweden. The overall results after 2 races (as the wind was so calm that it was not possible to finish more races) turned out to be: 1. Kitty, 2. Nina, 3. Gallia II, 4. Marga.
These results were not very exciting for Marga, and in fairness the two races were not properly telling of her potential. This, primarily, due to the complete absence of wind and also because Marga’s crew decided for a wrong tack. Fortunately, upon further research, the archives of Swedish yacht clubs’ rare documents such as the Seglarbladet issues of 1910-1912 were found. Seglarbladet is the official magazine of the Goteborg Yacht Club. In several regattas, the name of Marga features among the very first positions and victories. The owners and the wider team heaved a sigh of relief. Marga will be fast! Her restoration has been a tribute to yachting history as it has brought back to life a very rare yacht indeed, but will also a champion of the past.
For a number of years Marga was included in the GKSS register. Copies were found where she featured in it in 1912. Marga was also included in the 1910-1911 Lloyd’s registry with a Malta cross which represents boats built to a high standard of specification and design.
She was still in the GKSS register in 1913 and 1914 but disappeared from the register only to return in 1919 and remains in the registers 1920, 1921, 1924 but not 1923. The registered owner of the 20s is I.W. Thurfjell, Luleå.
Marga was found in Denmark in the early years of 2000 by Marco Vian, an engineer from Rome who despite of her deteriorated look, loved her hull and shape, bought her and shipped to Fiumicino (Rome, Italy) with the plan of personally restoring her.
He soon realised that the restoration was too big an undertaking for a non-professional shipwright and in September 2010, he capitulated to the insistent proposals to purchase the yacht by the current owners.
The current owners are keen yachtsmen and have been for several years with a great passion for classic yachts. The first yacht that was owned and restored by one of the owners, was Delfino, a 60ft Bermudian Ketch designed by J. Alden.
When selling the bare hull to the current owners Mr Vian produced an old, creased copy of a page from an antiquated Swedish yachting magazine, or book showing Marga racing (breathtakingly, so too) with the caption in Swedish stating that Marga pictured in the magazine had been designed by Liljegren and racing in Goteborg.
The research started from there.
There had also been another 10m I.R. called Marga II designed by Fife in 1914 and to create more confusion in the research, she was built in the boatyard of C.O. Liljegren’s brother, but apart from having the same measurements it was clear to the project manager Enrico Zaccagni who knows enough about Fife constructions and designs to realise that this Marga was not a Fife. A third Marga seems to have been designed by Sven Abrahmson and built by Abrahamson & Borjesson in Sweden in 1912, and apparently, she is in Norway, but again featuring very different measurements.
The 2010 restoration team had decided not to go ahead doubting Marga’s origin when Project Manager Zaccagni received the copy of a page from a magazine called Seglarbladet dated March 1911 with pictures of the boat’s interior layout, deck and more. It was clear the Marga featured in the Seglarbladet was “our” Marga. Consequentially all plans were resumed to complete her restoration thanks to this priceless page from an old magazine. It enabled the great skill of the Landini – Micelli architecture and design team to revamp the cabin, the mast and spars and the interior accommodations according to her original lines.
After the purchase, Cantieri Tecnomar of Fiumicino (Rome, Italy) was chosen to undertake the painstaking reconstruction and restoration of Marga. The current owners had met Tecnomar many years before and had developed a relationship (with them) during the time of their ownership of Delfino and later Orianda.
In September 2010 Marga was lying in front of the Tecnomar shed ready to begin this incredible journey of restoration. Her main dimensions are : LOA 15,59; Beam 2,77 and a draft 1,80m. Her sail area measures c. 175sqm.
The yacht was found in very poor condition, but her keel was sound and her shape was still holding, thanks to the composite construction.
The owners were excited at the idea of Marga taking part in the Olympic Centennial Celebrations in Stockholm in July 2012, but the yacht needed to undergo a painstaking restoration which would involve approximately 27,000 hours to complete.
Before beginning the restoration in the boatyard efforts were dedicated to the historical research in the hope of finding drawings, images, documents that could give the owners, shipyard, and project manager a more detailed history of the yacht. It was thanks to friends with great experience of Scandinavian racing yachts, like John Lammerts van Bueren, Ian Mc.Allister, Ron Valent, David Vieira, that some documents and a few pictures were received, including the photograph of Marga racing from the antiquated Swedish yachting magazine, that enabled the restoration team to understand the boat.
The owner then teamed up with two further interested parties, who, as close friends and expert yachtspersons with considerable racing experience joined the project with a view to start competing in the classic yacht racing circuit in the med.
Cantieri Tecnomar of Fiumicino (Rome, Italy) was chosen to undertake the painstaking reconstruction and restoration of Marga.
Marga made her re-launch and maiden race at “Les Voiles”in 2015.Her performance greatly improved in 2016, and is ready to compete in the years to come.
1865 – 1939 Sweden
A Swedish civil engineer and shipbuilder who designed both sailboats and motorboats. He received his theoretical education on boat and shipbuilding at the Royal Institute of Technology, and also taught himself as a shipbuilder in Gothenburg. After graduation, Liljegren traveled around England, France and Germany to study the construction of boats.
In the 1920’s he moved to the US and thus, was no longer active in Sweden.
Liljegren is famous for his daring designs such as the first “lottery yacht” for the Royal Swedish Yacht Club (KSSS), named “Prisca”, which was built from retrieved iron in 1899 and is considered to be his masterpiece. In addition to the two 10-Metre yachts Marga and Astarte, he also designed several 6 and 8-Metre yachts.