Locally restored yacht makes splash on racing circuit

By Ben Holbrook | Sep 20, 2012
Courtesy of: French and Webb French and Webb restored the 8-meter Fife yacht, Quest, and since the restoration the boat has competed successfully in numerous races.

Belfast — A locally restored 8-meter Fife yacht, Quest, is making quite a splash in the racing world as the newly restored vessel continues to rack up wins during international competitions.

Scottish Native William Fife III designed the yachts with the intent that they would be “fast and beautiful,” Amanda Green of French and Webb said.

Todd French and Peter Webb, owners of French and Webb, a Belfast based company specializing in building and restoring yachts, were introduced to Quest’s owners, Donald and Diane Palm, while the couple were touring the coast of Maine. French said the business has a history of restoring classic yachts, which paid off, as the Palms decided to let the company restore Quest.

“The restoration was very extensive,” French said.

The restoration process included cutting off the bottom of the boat, restoring the keel, replacing the rudder and carving five feet off the stern, as well as constructing new deck frames and decks. Further complicating the extensive restoration was the fact that workers had to be careful not to alter the shape of the hull.

French said he has restored many boats over the years, but Quest was one that stood out to him because of its design.

“I have to say, I’ve worked on many boats and it’s one of the prettier hulls I’ve seen,” he said.

As an 8-meter Fife, all of the measurements on the boat, such as sail height, length of the boom and other factors must add up to 8 meters, which is where the yacht gets its designation, French said.

“You have 8-meters, 6-meters and 12-meters,” French said. “Quest is a more traditional boat, and there are more modern ones that race, as well.”

The yacht has always been a racing vessel, French said, since it was shipped to Canada from Scotland. However, as the years passed it began to under-perform in the races.

“It would race and it was always the last boat to come in,” French said.

However, that quickly turned around after it was purchased and French and Webb began the process of restoring the yacht to her former glory.

Since its restoration, Quest has placed second overall in the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge North American Circuit after winning races in its own class and the overall prize in the Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht Regatta in Newport, R.I., and the Opera House Cup on Aug. 19 in Nantucket, Mass.

Quest also placed first shortly after being restored in 2011 during the Feeder Race, which is held in Camden.

Green and French both said the fact that Quest is performing so well in races is significant because it often competes with larger yachts, such as the 12-meter Valiant, which placed just ahead of Quest overall during the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge’s North American Circuit.

“In this racing circuit, it’s very rare to win one and almost unheard-of to win two,” French said.

Quest is now in French and Webb’s shop, where it will be stored for the winter.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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