Shamrock V, JK3

April 1930

Design: Charles E Nicholson

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In 1929 Sir Thomas Lipton, who had reached worldwide fame through his tea business issued his fifth challenge for the America’s Cup and commissioned Charles E. Nicholson, to design the first J-Class Yacht, Shamrock V, to the Universal Rule, signifying the birth of the J Class and the start of a new era in design evolution and racing.

Shamrock V was built out of mahogany planking over steel frames and launched at the Camper & Nicholsons Gosport yard on 14th April 1930. She showed early promise on the British Regatta circuit winning 15 of 22 races and placing second in an additional four. She also underwent continuous upgrading with changes to her hull shape, rudder and modifications to the rig to create a more effective racing sail plan.

Temporarily re-rigged as a ketch, Shamrock V crossed the Atlantic to America on her own bottom fully fitted out with internal accommodation. On arrival, she met Harold Vanderbilt’s Enterprise - race-ready, stripped out and equipped with several pioneering features such as a Park Avenue Boom, hidden lightweight winches and the world’s first Duralumin mast. The America’s Cup arms race was on, and Enterprise took the 15th America's Cup with a clean sweep. Sir Thomas Lipton, after endearing himself to the American public over 31 years and five attempts, would die the following year having never fulfilled his ambition to win the cup.
The British aviation industrialist Sir Thomas Sopwith bought her in 1931 as a trial horse to gain J-Class racing experience before his challenge for the 16th America's Cup.  Shamrock was then sold to Sopwith's aviation friend, and fellow yachtsman, Sir Richard Fairey of Fairey Aviation who continued to optimise Shamrock with aerodynamic and hydrodynamic modifications.

In 1937, Shamrock was bought by the Italian senator and industrialist Mario Crespi. This change in ownership prompted Shamrock's only name change. Italian Fascist law had banned the use of foreign names in society. Accordingly, Shamrock V was renamed Quadrifoglio (cloverleaf). Crespi was also the first owner who modified Shamrock for comfort by installing a luxurious interior for longer passages. The next owner, Piero Scanu, instigated a comprehensive three-year overhaul at the Camper & Nicholsons yard commencing. Whilst this refit saved Shamrock, it also took her further away from her thoroughbred origins with the installation of high bulwarks and a large deckhouse. In 1986, Shamrock V returned to the ownership of the Lipton Tea Company who donated her to the Museum of Yachting at Newport, Rhode Island. Another extensive and famed restoration was carried out by Elizabeth Meyer in 1989, which alongside her restoration of Endeavour, returned these two J Class to racing form and allowed the first J Class racing since 1937. This stimulated interest in restoring and building replica J Class yachts.

Following changes of ownership in the 1990s but still under Elizabeth Meyer’s management, Shamrock underwent renovation at Pendennis in 2000 where comprehensive works were planned to improve the yacht’s ballast ratio and with the addition of a new rig and sails, and performance was dramatically enhanced without compromising historical authenticity. Leading naval architect Gerard Dykstra of Dykstra Naval Architects was a major influence on the successful completion of the project, which included the returning of her deck structures and rig to their original 1930s configuration and improvements to the interior layout. Shamrock participated in a reunion in August 2001 with Endeavour, the only other remaining America’s Cup challenger, and Velsheda, for the America's Cup Jubilee off Cowes. Since then, Shamrock has enjoyed success racing on the classic and superyacht circuit, as well as being a popular charter yacht for cruising and racing.

Racing in St Barth’s in 2017, Shamrock sustained significant structural damage and in 2022 was acquired by her current owner who has commissioned a comprehensive strip down and restoration ‘to prepare her for her next 100 years’. Work is well underway, with a planned relaunch early in 2024, Shamrock plans to return to the Mediterranean to take part in the J Class World Championship during the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona.

Shamrock is the only original J-class never to have fallen into dereliction.


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Length at





168.0 tonnes

sail area

756.4 sq m

sail area

792.6 sq m

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