The only thing that beats Yachting’s long, rich history of writing about yachts is the yachts themselves. Classic craft are a living piece of the poise and elegance the sport has always embodied, and Madiz, a 115-year-old mega-yacht, is as classic as they come.
Ailsa Shipyards on the River Clyde in Scotland launched Madiz (then Triton) on February 17, 1902. In those days, one would call her “Clyde-built,” a phrase coined due to the quantity and quality of boats coming off that river. Her owner was James Coats Jr., a British philanthropist from the cotton business.
Besides having a long history of her own, Madiz is cloaked in the history of yachting and of the world. Her designer was G.L. Watson, believed to be the first to open a studio purely for yacht design in 1873. The design firm G.L. Watson & Co. is still operating today, and Madiz is the oldest active yacht that Watson personally designed. Some other G.L. Watson designs include Thistle and Valkyrie II and III, all 19th-century America’s Cup vessels, as well as the racing yacht Britannia.
With a slew of private owners over the years, Madiz has spent plenty of time as a pleasure craft. However, she also served as an auxiliary patrol yacht in World War I and was put to various uses in World War II, including as an anti-submarine craft. She eventually became the Royal Patrol Yacht, transporting King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Elizabeth (now Queen) to Ulster in 1945 to view 62 surrendered German U-boats.
The yacht has also operated under various names. After launching as Triton, she was called Rhouma, Osprey, Hiniesta, President Roberts and, as of 1972, Madiz.
She first appeared on the Lloyd’s Register of Yachts in 1903 with a +100A1 notation, the highest classification level the register offers. While classed by Lloyd’s through 1975, she was off the books for decades until 2006, when a newly refit Madiz again received a +100A1 notation, making her the oldest surviving steel vessel to be reclassed as such. Her 2004-06 refit in Greece included such modernizations as a new 105 kVA generator and onboard electronics, as well as a boiler room conversion to a second master stateroom. Today, she’s still in Greece with her longtime owners, the Keletsekis family.
Yachts like Madiz, with her life span and résumé, remind yachting enthusiasts of the rich history we step into every time we step aboard.