In the spring of 2019, the 8mR class yacht Sphinx, built in 1928 at Åbo Båtvarf (Turku Boatyard), joined the growing fleet of classic vessels at the Ruissalo shipyard. In early 2019, Antti Toukolehto and Joakim Håkans founded a ship-owning company named Rederi Ab Sphinx. The intention is that Sphinx will participate in regattas for classical yachts under the flag of Airisto Segelsällskap. The boat’s home port is the Ruissalo shipyard.
Although the eight-metre yachts are designed individually to a rating rule, the Turku boatyard in 1928 built three identical yachts to the same drawings by Gustaf Estlander. The length of the boats was 15.15 meters, the waterline was 9.3 meters and the width was 2.56 meters. The sail area was 80 square meters and the displacement exceeded 8 tons. The boats were built of 23.5 mm thick Honduras mahogany. The lead keel weighing approximately 5,000 kilograms was attached to the frame by 12 bronze bolts.
The three clients were experienced yachtsmen from Helsinki. Curt Mattson’s yacht was named Isabel, while Lempo II was ordered by Leuto Pajunen. The third, namely Sphinx, was built for architect Sigurd Frosterus, who reputedly paid for his order by means of his design fee for the Stockmann department store.
In her first years, Sphinx actively competed in Finland and Sweden. In 1940, however, Frosterus had to give up his yacht due to illness. The new owner Åke af Forselles continued to compete with Sphinx, winning the important Sinebrychoff trophy on two occasions. The next time Sphinx changed ownership was in 1967, when Kari Toukolahti took over. In the 1960s and 1970s, Sphinx was one of the few classical yachts still kept in racing mode, unlike many other vintage yachts that were adapted for added comfort while cruising.
From 1988 onwards, Kari Toukolehto’s son Antti continued as skipper of the boat. At the end of the 1990s, the boat underwent a complete renovation, including the replacement of all frames, the bottom planking and most of the topsides. The boat was also updated with a modern aluminium rig. The renovation continued according to plan during the 2000s, when the deck beams and the decking were renewed.
Sphinx has always been one of the most active boats in its class in Finland. In the 21st century, it has participated in the World Cup nine times, at venues such as Switzerland, Denmark and France. Often the yacht has been sailed on its own keel to the competition venue. Sphinx, who has presently returned to the Turku boatyard, has played an important role in the recovery of classic boat racing, thus supporting the rise of Finland to one of the top nations of classic boat sailing in Europe.
Length: 15.15 m
Waterline: 9.3 m
Beam: 2.52 m
Sail area: 80 m2
Year of construction: 1928
Designer: Gustaf Estlander
Original owner: Sigurd Frosterus
Sail number: L-4
Yacht club: ASS