The Class 15M JI boats were the great dominators of the sailing world sail in the first two decades of the twentieth century. The acronym JI stands for International Rule and under it were built a score of vessels with lengths exceeding 23 metres. Today there are only four survivors in the whole world: Hispania, Mariska, Lady Anne, and Tuiga. And all will be present from July 2 to 8 at the I Marina Sotogrande Classic Week 2018.
The Hispania (ESP1) is a sloop of 23.22 metres in length, 4.12 metres beam and a draft of 2.87 metres. Designed by the legendary Scottish naval architect William Fife III and built to order for King Alfonso XIII of Spain in 1909 in the Karpard de Pasajes shipyard in Guipúzcoa to participate in international regatas.
Its sail area is 410 square meters, with its largest sail measuring more than 80 square meters. The Spanish monarch won several races with the Hispania in hard competition with the Tuiga, a twin sailboat that the 17th Duke of Medinaceli, Luis Jesús Fernández de Córdoba and Salabert, ordered so that the King had a competitor of the same type and size.
The history of ‘Hispania’ is somewhat chequered. After winning numerous regattas in Spain, England and France, the First World War interrupted the competitions. In 1916 it was acquired by a Norwegian shipowner and in 1936 it returned to England where it was almost abandoned. The English navy seized it and all the ship’s metal items were removed to be melted as war material. Later it was acquired by an English merchant and it was not until 1998, when members of the Hispania Foundation of Vintage Ships discovered it on a beach in West Mersea, near Colchester in the South East of England, where it was used as a home.
They acquired it and was transferred to the Fairlie shipyard in Southampton to be restored. After passing through Southampton, in 2006 the Hispania was transferred to Astilleros Mallorca, in Palma, for the completion of its restoration.
The ‘Hispania’ was returned to the water in the summer of 2007, but the Hispania Foundation declared bankruptcy and the ship was saved from the auction by the Isla Ebusitana Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Puerto Sherry, Cádiz, and the boat returned to competition in 2011.