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William Fife III 94 ft Bermudan Ketch 1914/2019



William Fife III 94 ft Bermudan Ketch 1914/2019

Designer William Fife III
Builder William Fife & Son, Fairlie
Date 1914
Length overall 112 ft 6 in / 34.3 m
Length deck 94 ft 0 in / 28.65 m
Length waterline 68 ft 3 in / 20.8 m
Beam 16 ft 9 in / 5.1 m
Draft 12 ft 6 in / 3.8 m
Displacement 76 Tonnes
Construction Teak carvel planking on double oak frames
Engine 1 x 186 kW (249 hp) Cummins 6BTA diesel
Location France
Price EUR 1,900,000

These details are provisional and may be amended



Born into an aristocratic air of racy intrigue, SUMURUN’s charms have wooed a select band of suitors since her launch at Fairlie. A legend in many lifetimes, SUMURUN is one of the most exquisite of William Fife’s large ‘fast cruisers’. For almost 110 years this 94ft ketch, formerly yawl, has been in commission and loved, most recently by the current owners who treated SUMURUN to a major 2017-2019 refit at Chantier du Guip. Return to classic racing late in 2019 was triumphant, with victory at Saint-Tropez. Rigged as a bermudan ketch since 1935, this handy configuration was retained but brought subtly up to date by Juan Kouyoumdjian. Under it, SUMURUN is perhaps consistently faster than ever yet retains the ability to cross oceans comfortably; something she has quite a reputation for. “Form is temporary; class is permanent”. SUMURUN is now seriously for sale.



- New sail plan (Juan Kouyoumdjian)
- All new spars (Pasqui, Villefranche-sur-Mer)
- New sails, new running rigging, new standing rigging
- New deck plan, new winches
- New helm station
- New stem and associated work
- Replacement of some floors
- Some frames restoration
- Bilge painting
- Changing keel bolts
- Changing ballast bolts
- Checking and changing lag bolts, rivets and planking bolts
- Relocation of the mizzen mast step
- Associated structural work; new mizzen chainplates
- Refit rudder, new fittings
- Total rewiring
- New propeller, new propeller shaft, new reverse gear
- Engine refit + paint + change of all hoses, new generator

- Deck re-caulked
- Refrigeration system and insulation renewed

- 6 x Keel bolts replaced
- 7 x Double oak frames replaced amidships, N°s 21 to 28
- Silicon bronze dumps and bolts used throughout

- New teak deck fitted by Teak Deck Systems
- 20 mm teak laid deck
- Substrate of 2 x layers marine plywood (12mm and 18mm)
- Nearly all deck beams replaced in laminated iroko




“More extreme boats, and less extreme boats than the really beautiful 90-ton yawl for Lord Sackville have been built at Fairlie. Speaking, however, with a close personal knowledge of about 50 years’ duration of the yard of Messrs. Fife, we should say there has not been fashioned in it one in which the best elements of several types have been better or more harmoniously blended… She is a very heavily wooded boat, and so perfectly has she been put together that she looks as if she should, bar accidents, wear for, well, say a hundred years.”

The Yachtsman, 19 March 1914

“The big handicap class… raced around the coast, and during the later 1920s was dominated by two beautiful yawls built by Fife and sailed by Essex crews. Sir William Burton’s RENDEZVOUS, launched in 1913, was an elegant 87 footer sailed by Captain James Barnard of Rowhedge and his great rival was Hugh Paul’s SUMURUN, a fast 94 footer sailed by Captain Nat Gurten of Tollesbury. Both boats set 5,500 square feet of canvas and, immaculately kept and sailed, were examples of the very best type of yacht produced in any period of the sport.”

John Leather, The Northseamen, 1971

Reputedly commissioned as a love token cruising yacht gift from Victoria Sackville-West to her husband Lionel Sackville-West, 3rd Baron Sackville - did strict Presbyterian William Fife Junior ('III') have a twinkle in his eye as he honed the half model that would be used to loft her sweet lines? This was to be no ordinary cruising yacht.

Fife knew such yachts as 'Fast Cruisers' - nowadays we call them 'Cruiser-Racers' - but SUMURUN is surely 'Racer-Cruiser'. In fact, SUMURUN is everything, and that is the essence of a William Fife Fast Cruiser: wholesome; stoutly and beautifully constructed; exquisitely finished and fitted out, sea kindly - and fast.

SUMURUN’s beautifully drawn-out overhangs certainly suggest more than a nod to racing pretensions, commented on by those in the know as soon as she was launched on Wednesday 29th April 1914, but the yawl’s early forays on the regatta circuit in the command of Captain Robert Wringe of Brightlingsea (a veteran of Thomas Lipton’s first three SHAMROCK America’s Cup Challenges) were short lived. The First World War broke out on the eve of Cowes Week 1914 and the yawl would spend the next five seasons laid up.

First class yachting was slow to revive after the armistice, with King George V leading the way in 1920 by commissioning BRITANNIA. SUMURUN joined in, and either side of Cowes Week enjoyed extended cruises ‘down channel’, but Sackville-West had other things on his mind - and perhaps health issues. SUMURUN’s early 1920s moment of glory was taking line honours in the Royal Yacht Squadron’s 1922 Cowes Week King’s Cup regatta over a first class fleet that included her Fife stablemate fast cruising ketch VALDORA and the mighty Big Class cutter TERPSICHORE (later LULWORTH).

SUMURUN’s early period racing heyday would come during the late 1920s under the new ownership of Ipswich maltster and Rear-Commodore of Royal Harwich Yacht Club (and member of many others) Hugh F. Paul. In particular, her races against fellow RHYC flag officer, Vice-Commodore William P. Burton’s one-year-older, similar concept, slightly smaller and lighter Fife “Cruising 17-Metre” yawl RENDEZVOUS became something of legend – beautifully described above by John Leather.

Hugh Paul was considered a good amateur helmsman - still relatively unusual for the time. Hugh and his wife 'Maudie' would spend extended periods living aboard during the regatta season which always started early summer in south east England, and often took in the Clyde and Dublin regattas before returning south in time for Cowes Week in August.

Towards the end of the 1930 season Hugh Paul purchased the Nicholson 23-Metre ASTRA and optimised her to compete very successfully with the J-Class. SUMURUN required a new suitor who eventually appeared in 1932: entrepreneur and successful racehorse owner Frederick W. Shenstone.

During Shenstone’s ownership SUMURUN was a bona fide cruiser and very occasional racer; she was converted to Bermudan Ketch rig and received her first engine, a trusty 4-cylinder Gardner diesel. Although Shenstone lived in Sussex, Lloyd’s survey data through the period of his ownership – until 1951 – suggests she may have been based at Dartmouth or Brixham, though she is believed to have spent the Second World War very carefully laid up in a Hamble River mud berth. She somehow kept her original lead keel.

Some of SUMURUN’s competitors from these between-the-wars seasons are still with us: the 15-Metre THE LADY ANNE (Fife 1912), the 19-Metre MARIQUITA (Fife 1911), the fast cruiser MOONBEAM IV (Fife 1915/1920), LULWORTH, and the Nicholson J-Class boats SHAMROCK V, ASTRA and CANDIDA.

SUMURUN left the UK for the Mediterranean in 1951, renamed ERNA under the 4th ownership of London-based Greek shipowner Dimitrios Dionysos Stathatos who cruised her on the Côte d’Azure, eventually under reduced rig and with a more powerful engine. In 1960 ERNA was purchased by John Lubbock, 3rd Baron Avebury who cruised out of Gibraltar, spending long periods living on board – who wouldn’t?!

In 1966 ERNA’s life as a charter yacht began after transfer of ownership to Dutch oil man Sam Johanahoff. She became one of the beautiful people of Saint-Tropez, and then of Antibes when owned, sailed and offered for charter as ERNA OF FAIRLIE by Mrs Monique Vella-Brandt between 1979 and 1983.

A regular Cannes Film Festival charterer, American Robert Towbin, eventually was so smitten that he bought SUMURUN when the opportunity arose in 1983. This love affair would be the longest in SUMURUN’s long and happy life. When her centenary was celebrated in 2014 at the New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court, Newport, Rhode Island station they’d been together for 31 years, and she received an award from Lloyd's Register for remaining 'In-Class' in their top wooden yacht Classification (18A1 1914-1957, later ✠100A1 1958-2014) for 100 years.

Bob Towbin would re-introduce SUMURUN to racing, and her ocean racing debut, as the “classic yacht revival” evolved. Of course, she took to it with relish. Notable results from this period include:

1989 - Antigua Classic Regatta Overall
1997 - 1st in Class NYYC/RYS Rolex Transatlantic Challenge - Newport RI – Lizard
1997 - 1st, Vele d’Epoca, Imperia
1997 - 1st, Cannes Régates Royales
2002 - Antigua Classic Regatta Overall
2005 - 1st, Cannes Régates Royales
2013 - Antigua Classic Regatta Overall
2015 - 1st in Class RYS Bicentenary Regatta

Bob Towbin’s final fling with SUMURUN in the Mediterranean was at the 2016 edition of Les Voiles de Saint Tropez, after which she transferred to present ownership and entered an extended period of refit, and the Yan Juan Kouyoumdjian rig re-design covered elsewhere here. The work was completed in the late summer of 2019, just in time to allow a stormy but triumphant return to the Mediterranean, winning first in class at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez.

SUMURUN is back doing what she does best: standing up to her canvas in big breezes, thrilling all aboard, winning prizes, and offering a superb après-race home to her owner, guests and crew. And she's ready to return to the oceans.

©2024 Iain McAllister/ Sandeman Yacht Company Ltd.
[also acknowledging the research and writing of Jacques Taglang]


REGATTAS 2015-2022

- Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez
- Cannes Regates Royales
- Vela Clasica Mahon
- Argentario Sailing Week

- Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez
- Cannes Regates Royales

- Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez

- Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez
- Cannes Regates Royales

Royal Yacht Squadron Bicentenary International Regatta



- Teak planking on double oak frames
- Teak laid deck on plywood substrate (2004)
- Teak superstructures
- (In Class Lloyd's: 18A1, 1914-1957; ✠100A1, 1958-2016)



- Teak laid deck on plywood substrate (2004)
- Teak capped bulwark
- Teak deck structures
- All bronze deck hardware

- Open mooring fairleads with rollers port and starboard taffrail
- Associated brinze and teak deck cleats port and starboard
- Pasarelle socket at taffrail
- Bronze fittings for boomkin
- Ash and bronze mizzen sheet purchase blocks
- Highfield levers port and starboard for mizzen runners
- Manual self-tailing mizzen sheet winch
- Deck box with concealed traditional binnacle and helm seat
- Traditional ship's wheel on bronze Thomas Reid pedestal
- Thomas Reid helm indicator


- Hatch over owner cabin
- Mainsheet winches port and starboard
- Ash and bronze mainsheet purchase blocks
- Large raised butterfly skylight over owner cabin
- Headsail winches port and starboard
- Main mast runners highfield levers port and starboard

- Double doors
- Raised, hinged hatch
- Bevvelled glass sidelights
- Grabrails port and starboard
- Mushroom vent to starboard
- Ship's bell
- Stowage boxes forward
- Headaail winches port and starboard

- Panama fairleads port and starboard
- Associated teak and bronze mooring cleats
- Raised butterfly skylight over saloon
- Winches to port and starboard


- Winches port and starboard
- Horse for boomed staysail sheet
- Raised skylight over galley with large side portlights
- Gas bottle locker forward
- Mushroom vents port and starboard
- Raised crew accommodation forehatch
- Sliding hatch

- Lofrans AC Powered windlass
- 2 x Horizontal chain gypsies
- 1 x Vertical warping drum
- Bowsprit bits and cranse
- Bow rollers port and starboard

- 1 x 100 kg Ultramarine anchor
- 1 x 75 kg Spade anchor
- 100 m of ⅝ in / 15 mm chain



- Accommodation for 6 guests in 3 cabins
- Oak fielded and raised panelling - mostly original
- Described as Jacobean style at launch

- Step down to button leather settees to port and starboard
- Stair wheeled to port down to accommodation
- Signal flag stowage over to port
- VHF Radio
- Ship's isolator panel forward
- Clock thermometer and barometer

- Shared WC / Shower Compartment to port
- Engine room to starboard
- Owner Cabin aft
- Double ans Single/ Pullman Guest Cabins forward


'L' Settee dining area to starboard
- Dining table
- 2 x Dining chairs
- Regatta memento cabinet
- Sideboard with lockers under and outboard
- Book case
- 2 x Bulkhead gimballed lamps

Settee to port
- Writing desk/ bureau and chair
- Drawers under
- Bookshelves and lockers over
- Sideboard/ dresser forward; glasses and drinks stowage
- 2 x Bulkhead gimballed lamps
- 1 x Bulkhead lamp

Door forward to Galley


Owner cabin
- Double berth to starboard
- Drawers under
- Single berth to port
- Banquette; stowage under
- Writing desk aft; drawers under
- Book cabinets
- Butterfly skylight hatch in deckhead
- Magazine rack
- Hatch in deckhead
- 2 x Bronze opening ports
- Reading lights
- Deckhead lights
- Fan
En-suite WC compartment
- Tub with shower
- Wash basin with hot and cold taps
- Toilet
- Many lockers

Double Guest Cabin 1 (to port)
- Double berth
- Chest of drawers with sideboard
- Mirror
- Deckhead and reading lamps

Shared Guest Cabins WC/ Shower Compartment

Single + Pullman Guest Cabin 2 (to starboard)
- Single berth
- Chest of drawers with sideboard
- Mirror
- Deckhead and reading lamps



- L-shaped to starboard
- Extensive tops
- Extensive stowage under and over
- Inset double sink; tops; mixer tap
- 4 x Burner forward facing hob with oven and grill
- Extractor hood
- Island unit; stowage under
- Deckhead lights

- Accommodation for 6
- Forward to crew mess
- Settee/berths to port and starboard
- Pilot berths outboard
- Stowage under
- Drop leaf table
- Ladder to forehatch
- Forward to fo'c'sle
- Hanging lockers to port and starboard
- V-berths forward
- Stowage under
- Deckhead lights
- 2 x Bronze opening ports



- Hollow spruce main mast 36 m above deck (Pasqui, 2019)
- Spruce main boom (Pasqui, 2019)
- Hollow spruce mizzen mast 22 m above deck (Pasqui, 2019)
- Mizzen boom (Pasqui, 2019)
- Boomkin (Pasqui, 2019)
- Bowsprit (Pasqui, 2019)
- All rigging new 2019
- Swaged wire standing rigging
- Running rigging in ‘classic’ Dyneema by Escale Rigging (2019/ 2021)
- Turnbuckles new 2012
- Masts most recently off boat 2021

Meissner Bronze Classic
- 1 x Manual (2004)
- 1 x Electric (2004)
Harken Bronze Classic
- 3 x Manual (2019)
- 2 x Electric (2019)

North (2019)
- Mainsail
- Mizzen
- Staysail
- Reaching staysail
- Mizzen staysail 1
- Mizzen staysail 2
- Jib top 1
- Jib top 2
- Jib
- Storm jib
- Asymmetric spinnaker 1
- Asymmetric spinnaker 2
- 2 x Snuffing socks

Sun awning (2021)
Covers for:
- Rail/ bulwark, leather straps (2017)
- Winches (2019)
- Mainsail (2019)
- Bowsprit and boomkin (2019)
- Deck table (2019)
- Helm seat (2019)
- Wheel (2019)
- Windlass protection (2022)
- Tender (2021)



Main Engine
- 1 x 186 kW (249 hp) Cummins 6BTA diesel
- Engine hours: 3633 (TBC)
- ZF 3010 C Gearbox (2019)
- 4-Blade SPW Variprop 820 mm propeller (2019)
- Max speed: 9.5 knots
- Cruising speed: 7.50 knots
- Range: 500 nm at 7.50 knots
- Fuel consumption: 20 L /h (4 US gallons) at 7.50 knots

- 1 x 17.4 KVA MASE (2019)
- Hours: 220 (TBC)

- Service: 8 x AGM 220 Ah (2021)
- Engine: 2 x Optima AGM 50 Ah (2017)
- Generator: 1 x Optima AGM 75 Ah (2019)
- Radio: 2 x Optima AGM 75 Ah (2019)
- Mastervolt MASS 24/100 3 PHASES (2019)
- Mastervolt for radio battery ( 2019)
- Charger/inverter 220 V Mastervolt Mass CombI Pro 24/3500-100 (2019)
- Inverter Mastervolt AC Master 24/500 (2019)
Shore Power
- 400 V 3-phase or 230 V single phase, 50 HZ

- 1,000 L / 264 US Gal
- Racor fuel separator
Fresh water
- 1,300 L / 343 US Gal
Grey water
- 284 L/ 75 US Gal
Black water
- 215 L / 57 US Gal

- Great Water watermaker (2021)
- 189 L / 50 Gal per hour
- Headhunter Vaccu Flush toilet system



- Constellation magnetic compass
- B&G Echosounder
- B&G Broadband 4G Radar
- B&G Transponder
- Adrena & C-Map Charts
- B&G H 5000 Log
- B&G H 5000 Wind
- Toshiba PC + Adrena navigation software

- Icom M-802 SSB radio
- Icom M-602 VHF radio
- Fleet One satcom
- Wireless internet

- Stereo in main saloon, seating at aft deck, and owner's stateroom
- Bluetooth sound system and Wi-Fi throughout boat



- 2 x 6-Person Plastimo liferafts (2019)
- 2 x FM200 Fire systems (engine room and lazarette)
- 2 x Jon Buoys
- 1 x SART transponder
- 1 x EPIRB beacon
- 10 x Fire extinguishers (3 x CO2, 2 x Powder, 5 x Foam)
- 1 x DSC VHF Radio
- 20 x Self-inflating life jackets
- Rocket sets
- Defibrillator
- Emergency medical kit
- 12 x Survival blankets
- Guy wire cutter
- Box of wood bungs



- Deck dining table and folding director chairs
- 5 m Folding spruce/ teak passerelle (2021)
- Folding swim/ boarding ladder
- 3.6 m Highfield Aluminium RIB (2019)
- 20 hp Honda outboard motor (2019)



- Main image: Marino Teobaldo
- Sailing: James Robinson Taylor
- On deck and accommodation: Laurent Charpentier
- Drawings: Juan Kouyoumdjian


These particulars have been prepared from information provided by the vendors and are intended as a general guide. The purchaser should confirm details of concern to them by survey or engineers inspection. The purchaser should also ensure that the purchase contract properly reflects their concerns and specifies details on which they wish to rely.


Sandeman Yacht Company

Brokerage Of Classic & Vintage Yachts