Palma.—Having been abandoned here in Palma for the past seven years on the hard in STP, earlier this year she was bought by former merchant navy officer and master boat builder Dan Stevens, for an estimated 250'000 pounds.

And, over the past 50 days a four-strong team of expert British marine engineers, refitters, surveyors and restorers have been working round the clock in the STP shipyard with the kind support of a number of local and international companies to restore the legendary boat built by Sir Richard Branson, to break the trans-Atlantic record in 1986. Back then, Branson and his four-strong crew broke the record in 3 days, 8 hours and 31 minutes averaging a speed of 37 knots.

But, Branson sold her after about 12 months and its two successive owners showed little interest in the history of the state-of-the-art vessels and its place in the nautical history books.

But, earlier this year, yacht agent Brian Thornton, got in touch with Dan Stevens, they began talking and the rest is history and VACII was lowered back into the water yesterday, under the proud eyes of Jeremy Linford who, along with James Court, Chrissy Santic and Norton Poole have spent the past seven weeks restoring her to her former glory.

It was a major operation lasting most of the day, Undercover Solutions who had offered to cover her, had to carefully dismantle all the scaffolding and her covering, while part of the STP fence had to be taken down to make room for the huge lift which was going to gently deposit VACII back to where she belongs, in the water. It was such a momentous occasion that most of the STP downed tools to watch the spectacle and event, passersby clung to the fences to enjoy this historic moment which STP and the Majorcan nautical industry can be proud of.

Now, she will undergo sea trials in the Bay of Palma before journeying back to Plymouth with Dan and Jeremyatthewheel. Throughout the refit they have tried to be true to the original design as much as possible, but the electronics had to be updated to meet modern rules and regulations but she is still going to be running her massive two 2'000 hp engines which can shift the 50 ton vessel at a maximum sped of 52 knots, although Dan and Jeremy plan on easing her home - although judging by the look in their eyeswhentheywent aboard her, in the water yesterday - I am sure they may just give her one blast on the journey home.

And, they expect a hero's welcome in Plymouth with over one million people having been following the refit process on the Internet. Great interest has already been shown in VACII, Invited to Cowes Week and Monte Carlo race but Dan is taking it one step at a time.

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