This graceful flushdecked classic yacht was designed by Alfred Mylne in 1934 and built the same year by William Fife in Fairlie, Scotland, for a Glasgow ship owner, Major J.G. Allan, from Helensburgh, and named "Sonas" ("happiness" in gaelic).

In 1947, James C. Guthrie, made the sails reduced to 1100 sq. feet by Mackenzie. The type becomes Bermudian Sloop. Her RORC rating is than 38.93 ft.

In 1952 she was sold to Georg von Erpecom another ship owner in Norway, from the Bergen's Yacht Club, who changed her name to "Irina VII". She was the Club's Flag ship during many years. Georg Von Erpecom had also owned all the 6 precedent Irina !

During the sixties, Irina VII was entrusted to Finn Engelsen.

From 1965 to 1985 she was used extensively by a Devon based club and finally sold on in 1985 to Miss and Mister Potts.

In 2002, Irina VII has been sold to french people. Irina VII is currently beeing renovate by AMEBOIS Shipyard.

More than 12 000 hours have been necessary for her renovation. Irina VII is now in its original Bermuda rig, the interiors being in their original state of 1934.

Irina VII has been regularly sailed during 2003 and will be present in other regatta in 2004.

Renovation vidéo


Original rig



Major J. G. Allan, with his wife and the crew



Second rig


Ketch rig



Last ketch rig before renovations

The skipper was in love with VHF.

The following article appeared in KLASSISKE LINJER NR.8, MAY 1998 - the member's magazine for the Classic Wooden Sailboat Club of Norway.

It was written in Norwegian by Jan-Erik Sverre, the grandson of Mr. Georg von Erpecom who formerly owned also Irina VI, a 75 feet Fred. Shepard/Harris Bros ketch, built in England in 1917, and which he kept from 1937 until 1952.

IRINA VII (13m C/R - 1952 - 1958 - 1965)

Easter 1952 there were a group of gentlemen, who 'froze' their way over the North Sea with only the warmth of a number of candles, on board Georg von Erpecom's 8 sailboat (if we do not count the Oselver on which he made a deck for cruising). He was now 63 years old - and the newly bought IRINA VII (ex SONAS) was being brought home from Scotland.

Even if Irina VI was larger, the new Irina VII was perhaps of finer ancestry. She was drawn by Alfred Mylne in 1934 and built the same year by the not unknown Scottish constructor and boatbuilder William Fife & Son in Fairlie - Scotland.

Unfortunately she caught fire shortly after delivery and had to be totally restored. This caused among other things to the fact that the Swedish Krysser Club to entered her in their Yacht Register in 1954 as being built in 1938.

She had a somewhat rounder form than the earlier 12mR, and a forward underwater body similar to the later classic ocean racers from Sparkman & Stephens.

With her 16.5 meters loa, 11.40 waterline, a beam of 3.6 meters and a depth of 2.41 meters she had a displacement of 25 tons - and a RORC measure of 12.35. In a letter from Archd. Macmillan, the Fairlie Yacht Slip Ltd of 28th July 1965 I can read : "She is composite built - i.e. steel frames". The Jib and Main sails gave an area of 110 sq.m. of sail - elegantly carried by a 72 foot mast with baby stays. Under deck was a 4 cylinder Kelvin F2 petrol motor with a 3-bladed propeller which was the cause of many "horze words" on board. She was not reliable !

My Grand Father broke all the rules - and had his "captains cabin" with a single bunk and a wash basin in English porcelain that folded up like onboard the old NSB (Norwegian Railways) sleeping wagons, on the port side ! Direct access to his cabin was through a small gangway from the "dog-house".

On the more traditional style, Lauritz, (the steward) kept himself before the mast as he should those days - and in later years together with a student Jan Helge Jansen (who later became a conservative party politician).

But what I remember best with Lauritz's was his head through the hatch on the foredeck, asking "where Mr. von Erpecom had decided to drop the anchor for the nite". That was more than sufficient information for Lauritz; the moment anchor hit bottom, customary drinks before dinner was served before a 4 course meal including a soufflé - which was prepared on a small paraffin stove. And served by a perfectly dressed Lauritz in his white steward-jacket.

As a young Oslo-boy on summer holidays, I remember a difficult choice between IRINA's always newly scrubbed teak deck and the lovely Bergen skillingsbolle (a type of sweet roll from Bergen). This was because the sweet roll had a lot of sugar - which, together with fish blood, was a crime to have on board and absolutely forbidden onboard by my Grand Father.

Early spring of 1958, he was then 69 and I was 12, passed terribly slowly. I was invited to sail IRINA VII on a long summer-cruise from Bergen to Marstrand with grandfather. But sickness basically from imprisonment in a German concentration camp (Zachsenhausen) had slowed the "old sailor" with the happy eyes, and he died the day before we should start the trip. He had held out the sickness as long as he possibly - did so not to lose a summer cruise nor disappoint an excited grandchild.

IRINA VII was used that summer by the family, but then she was put ashore in the shed owned by the Bergen Yacht Club (which was exactly dimensioned to the yacht). There she stayed until 1965, with a short break under Finn Engelsen's borrowed command, until she was sold via Bristol Marine & Yacht Brokers to Island Cruising Club, Salome - South Devon for UKP 5.250 !!! They came the same year to take her back to England - even though they did their best to ‘avoid' actually that. The crew from Island Cruising Club had apparently slept through their navigation classes, because they almost ended their journey in France.

Island Cruising Club kept her name (IRINA), but not the rig. It was too difficult and heavy to handle - according to the club's secretary (despite the fact that Grand Father had managed her at times with a crew of only two all around the North Sea). She was consequently by the end of the 1960's rigged down to a ketch. "The Commodore and Founder of the Club had her rig cut down by 10 feet. This badly affected her sailing - so a year or two later we got Mr. Mylne of the firm who designed her to re-design her rig as a ketch. This much improved her performance again, almost back to her original fine state. She is also much easier to handle as a ketch", writes the Secretary of Island Cruising Club to me in August 1980.

In October 1985, IRINA VII changed owners for the fourth time - now over to the Potts family, previous owners of hotels in Torquay. The ships broker who sold the yacht (Wooden Ships by Peter Gregson) tells that after nearly 10 years continued sailing with Salcomb, they took her ashore in Galmpton (Dartside Yard), Devon in 1993. There they began a complete restoration program that took nearly 4 years to complete - with e.g. replacement of all the steel ribs with laminated wooden ribs. The broker, Peter Gregson, mentioned to me that from a sales sum of UKP 5.250 in 1965 the market value had risen to UKP 120.000 by 1995. If her original cabinetry were repaired another UKP 20.000 could be added to the value estimate.

Two years ago the restored IRINA VII (ex SONAS) was floated once again - but as Fred Potts writes to me (1995), "The yacht is now our cruising home and naturally nothing like she was originally, but nevertheless still a beautiful yacht !".

Photos from past 1955

From Irina II to Irina VII, 1917 until 1952.