The Story Behind Recluta is the tale of a nautical epic that began in 1942 and spanned nearly eighty years in the Frers dynasty of naval architects. It tells the story of a sixty-seven-foot wooden sailing yacht that has traveled across generations, and is one of the projects closest to the heart of renowned yacht designer Germán Frers.
In the summer of ‘42 in Argentina during the Buenos Aires – Mar del Plata regatta, Recluta, a Camper & Nicholsons yawl from 1901 captained by its owner Charlie Badaracco, ran aground in the shallow waters of Cape San Antonio during the night in the middle of a storm. In the attempt to free the yacht, the crew engaged in a swift maneuver causing a man to fall overboard. When tacking to rescue him, Recluta ran aground again. This time forever.
Naval designer Germán Frers Senior (1899-1986) soon offered Recluta a second chance: he redesigned it and began its reconstruction with the pieces rescued from the shipwreck. It was planned to be the largest yacht ever built in South America at the time. Despite his enthusiasm, work was delayed as Europe suffered at the hands of the Second World War and there was a shortage of materials to build the ship. As the war persisted, the project was finally suspended. Recluta “ran aground” again.
Decades later, world-famous yacht designer Germán Frers discovered among old files those magnificent designs made by his late father. He then decided to restart the project of building Recluta and, at the young age of eighty, has finally launched a replica of this stunning yacht to enjoy with his family.
Buenos Aires has a long tradition of excellent wooden boatbuilding with craftsmen who are truly world class. Recluta is living proof of their skill. It is built as a classic, double-skinned like the original would have been, and using no modern materials or weight saving short cuts. The bronze winches are not self-tailing but standard winches by The Classic Winch Company in Holland, and the custom-made deck hardware is all from Argentina. The woods used throughout were laminated Viraró for the stem, ribs, bilge planks, and deck beams; Cedar for the double-skinned hull; Kiri and Chestnut wood to plate the bulkheads and the doors inside the cabin; and Sytka Spruce for the mast and boom.
Recluta is an ocean racer, built as a cruiser-racer so she could offer comfort to the designer’s family and friends. Frers is an accomplished racer who likes to helm his yachts in the Mediterranean Classic Circuit. As soon as Recluta was launched, she embarked on an Atlantic crossing and arrived in the Med in time to take part in several Classic regattas this past Summer. Frers sails with his family and crew from Argentina who have become friends. His daughter trims the mainsail, his son is tactician, his grandson is on the coffee grinder during the whole regatta day working hard trimming the big headsails. A true family affair!
Recluta’s adventure is documented by Zelmira Frers, granddaughter and daughter of the renowned Frers yachting designers. As an architect, creative director and photographer of immense sensitivity, Zelmira connects with the legacy of her grandfather (whom she never met) and with the instinct and precision of her father, to recreate the story of Recluta in a book of immense historical, aesthetic and emotional value.
“This book allowed me to review the concept of time, the flowing rythm of life that transcends and is transmitted from generation to generation,” says Zelmira Frers. To connect with the stories on nautical adventures, she read all those her grandfather wrote about the boats he designed. “I got to know him through those stories he wrote, and I discovered an adventurous, curious man with a great sense of humor. From him I learned that life needs to be embraced as it comes. From his ability to adapt on high seas, I learned to accept that we are at the mercy of nature and the unexpected, and we must be smart enough to act accordingly.”
For three years she carefully filmed and photographed every detail of the building of Recluta, immersing herself in the working routine of her father Germán Frers and his team of nautical carpenters. “I believe that the history of a community or a culture is built by small individual voices. There are stories that bear witness to changes in times and traditions. In this particular case, Recluta is a testimony to a thriving period in Argentina, when the nautical industry was at its peak, the time of my grandfather. Today, this industry lives in a different reality. In this book I want to immortalize part of the beauty of the history of Argentina’s nautical development, and its silent protagonists.”
This book covers the passion, tradition and sense of excellence of a family lineage, which once again hoists sail to create a project, this time uniting three generations. The book will be a delight for those passionate about the yachting world, as well as anyone who loves design, architecture, history and art. It can be purchased at www.thestorybehindrecluta.com
DESIGN: Germán Frers (Sr.)
BUILT: 2021, Buenos Aires
LOA: 20.4m (69ft 11in)
LWL: 14.7m (48ft 3in)
BEAM: 4.6m (15ft 1in)
DRAFT: 2.4 / 4.5m (7ft 10in / 14ft 8in)
SAIL AREA: 177m2
DISPLACEMENT: 33 TONS
BALLAST: 13 TONS