Still winning after 72 years!

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Fjord III, the iconic classic yacht designed by Mani Frers’ grandfather Gérman Frers Snr won her class at the recent 200-boat strong Regatta Royal in Cannes. Designed and built in 1946 for his own pleasure, this 50footer is still very much a family heirloom, for Mani’s father Gérman Frers saved her from oblivion and had the yacht restored to her former glory. And it was Gérman Frers, seen here at the helm who steered her to victory in the Marconi rig class.

Fjord III is one of the cornerstones in the history of the Frers design dynasty. Her build began in something of a rush for Frers Snr. set himself a three-month deadline to launch the yacht in order to compete in that year’s Buenos Aires / Rio race. He missed the start by 47 hours but promisingly set the fastest elapsed time to Rio. Two years later, she won the Race outright and went on to win her class in the 1954 Bermuda Race.

She might have done even better in the 1952 Bermuda Race had politics not got in the way. While Fjord III was being loaded on a ship bound for New York, Evita Peron saw the yacht’s graceful lines more as a billboard and decreed that she must carry her political message to America along her top-sides. When Frers Snr refused to comply with the order, the yacht’s export papers were suddenly withdrawn and Fjord III was transferred back on the dock.

Recalling the event many years later, German Frers said: “We had a big party to wish my Father and his crew ‘bon voyage’. I remember there were tears when they left for the docks…only for them to re-appear later that night saying that they were not allowed to leave. Politics was like that in those days!”

1952: Fjord III being lifted back on the dock after her export permit was refused because  German Frers Snr would not allow Evita Peron’s political slogans to be written across the yacht’s topsides