Setting sail

Piloting a 120-year old classic yacht on her maiden voyage across the internet

Background
We met Captain Russell Potter, while riding motorcycles in Mallorca. He loved the work we had done for Albion and asked us to create a website for Shenandoah of Sark, the 120-year old classic sailing yacht that was under his command.

Built in 1902 for New York banker, Charles Fahnestock, SY Shenandoah has subsequently been owned by industrialists, royalty and drug barons. She has circumnavigated the world numerous times and faced both dereliction and fabulous luxury. It was our duty to tell her story well.

Objectives

The owner of the boat had spared no expense in returning Shenandoah to her former glories so we had to show her off to best effect. But her’s was no quiet retirement, lazing as a gin palace in the Mediterranean sun – Shenandoah was still sailed hard, so we couldn’t lose her spirit of adventure.

Her long and checkered history had to be researched and brought to life as a captivating narrative. We also had to document her current specification – which would help a new owner understand exactly what was on offer, should she ever be put up for sale again.

Actions

The visual style of the website was inspired by the boat itself: the palette of dark blues, gold, and rich wood evoking the experience of being on board.

The contents of the homepage and image galleries were a carefully curated selection of images honed down from thousands that had been collected over many years. Full-screen images allow the collection of incredible photographs to take centre stage in the visual experience.

To research her history, we gathered all the known books, photocopies, magazines and articles and spent hours trawling the internet for further details. From this we crafted a complete historical narrative. To keep this engaging for users, we developed a bespoke digital timeline that could be clicked or swiped depending on the device.

Lastly, we repurposed the idea of a Blog – to create the Captains’ Log, a repository for the anecdotes, stories, reminiscences and thoughts of crewmembers past and present. This adds a characterful and personal counterpoint to the more formal history and allows new stories to be added as they happen, bringing the travelogue completely up to date.

Shaughn put forward ideas for how we could visually captivate the user and kept the project fun and fresh. It was great bouncing thoughts off him to get to our final cut and we were very happy with the result, a website timely for such an auspicious yacht. Russell Potter / Captain SY Shenandoah

Results

The client loved the result. The project wasn’t about increasing sales, expanding an audience or enhancing a brand reputation, it was about building a site and telling a story that was worthy of its subject.

Shenandoah is a well-known and well-loved boat. The many online visitors appear to think we have done the yacht justice. The Captain even received one email enquiring if she was up for sale.