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Construction Journal
Robbe & Berking 12 Metre World Cup For Classics



The Sphinx was built in 1939 as a club boat for the Norddeutscher Regattaverein (NRV) at Abeking & Rasmussen’s. The construction was afforded by money subscripted by citizens of Hamburg, especially by the Hamburg tradesman Phillip Reemtsma.

For Henry Rasmussen, being the owner of the shipyard, it was - after his first 12mR yacht “Skeaf” of the year 1914, the tenth and last 12mR yacht that he could build. All in all, during its company history, Abeking & Rasmussen built 102 mR yachts: one 9mR, three 5mR, seven 7mR, ten 12mR, 15 10mR, 25 8mR and 41 6mR yachts. Sphinx was launched on April 28, 1939 and therefore only some days before the Second World War started. Obviously, the attention was turned to the Olympic Games, which sailing competitions should take place 1940 in Helsinki. In summer 1939 Sphinx was sailed by consul Franz Brinkmann, who was during the “Kieler –“ and the “Travemünder Week” always in front of all the other 12mR yachts. But at the Dansk “Öresund Week” the mast broke so that Sphinx only after the war could participate in races again.

After the Second World War the whole sailing world was in a sorry state. Also the NRV had lost its clubhouse and almost all of its boats, but was able to save the 12mR er. After the capitulation the allies committed, that Germans without special permission were only allowed to sail boats smaller than 6m. Initiated by the chairman of the NRV those days, Erich F. Laeisz, it came to that legendary barter deal. Laeisz being a worldwide known ship owner, whose big yachts all started with a “P” – among them the famous windjammer “Pamir”, “Passat” and “Preußen”, was one of the most loyal customers of Abeking & Rasmussen. Laeisz sold Sphinx to two club members of the NRV, Hans and Wolfgang Freudenberg, who were not only holders of a Chilean pass port but also owners of a big wood-shop in Hamburg. Under Chilean flag they were allowed to sail the yacht. Payment was done with a wagon load of oak, larch and mahagony. The NRV passed this wood on to Abeking & Rasmussen and Henry Rasmussen in return delivered 12 “Hummel” boats, five pirates, two small keel boats, type “Sonderling” and eight “Hansa” jolly boats.

These jolly boats were the first exemplars of this later on very popular boat type that Henry Rasmussen constructed due to the constitutions of the allies with a length over all of 5,85m and therefore smaller than 6m. The NRV sold these boats to its club members and was with this establishing the financial basis for building the new club house at the Alster, where the NRV is still located. A model of the Sphinx embedded to the wall still reminds of this new start.

After the war the Freudenberg brothers were sailing the yacht with the name “Lobito”, winning in 1948 the traditional race for the “Blaue Band der Niederelbe”. Ten years later, in 1958, Sphinx was sold to the naval college Mürwik which was using it until 2004 with the name “Ostwind” as a training ship. In the 60ies and 70ies the navy won in total 9 times the “Blaue Band der Flensburger Förde” for the fastest local yacht.

On September 30, 2005 both 12mR yachts “Ostwind” and “Westwind” of the navel college Mürwik were sold by auction. Some citizens of Flensburg tried everything to avoid this. When the auction date was fixed, three Flensburg sailors Jochen Frank, Gorm Gondesen and Oliver Berking decided to make an offer to save at least one of the yachts. They were successful! In January 2006 under direction of Kai Wohlenberg the restoring of the “Ostwind” – which for the future should again bear its original name “Sphinx” – started and will take until spring 2008.
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