Originally published in Castine Patriot, August 10, 2017
Nielsen fleet lands in Castine for exhibit, regatta
by Anne Berleant
A fleet of 17 Nielsen-designed classic wooden yachts sailed into Castine harbor on August 2, docking at the town and Maine Maritime Academy or moored within viewing distance. The exhibit marked the opening of three days of regattas, starting with the Castine Classic on August 3.
K. Aage Nielsen, “a genius of twentieth-century yacht design,” according to a Castine Yacht Club press release, designed yawls, sloops and double-ended sloops in Europe and the United States. All three designs, ranging from 18 to just over 51 feet in length, were on display, including the 18-foot Fern, built for E.B. White in Denmark. A symposium on the Nielsen yachts was held at Maine Maritime Academy that afternoon.
Born in 1904 in Denmark to a father that owned and operated a saw mill, Nielsen began his career as a draughtsman. He worked for shipyards in Europe and the United States before free-lancing with famed boat-builders John Alden and Sparkman & Stephens. In 1936, he was hired full-time by the S & S Boston office.
“Nielsen’s plans specify every scantling, every fastening, every material. They are beautifully executed and scripted meticulously and are almost works of art in their own right just as the plans of Frank Lloyd Wright, or other great architects, have been,” according to a treatise published on the S & S website noting the importance of Nielsen’s designs to S & S. Nielsen subsequently established his own design practice. The yachts exhibited in Castine were built in Denmark, Germany and Maine between 1948 and 1972.