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Tall ship Soren Larsen brings star quality

15 December 2008

MEDIA RELEASE For immediate release

Tall ship Soren Larsen brings star quality - and sailing adventures - to Princes Wharf

Aucklanders who remember the acclaimed BBC television series The Onedin Line have a chance to see - and sail on - the ship that stole the show, the brigantine Soren Larsen, over the summer months.

The vessel is berthed on the western side of Ports of Auckland's Princes Wharf, where she will be until mid-February, in between taking people out on three-day or five-day "sailing adventures" in the Hauraki Gulf and the Bay of Islands.

Restored in the UK in 1978 as a rig of the 1880s especially for The Onedin Line, Soren Larsen won the enduring affection of thousands of New Zealanders who never missed an episode when the series was screened here.

However, although she had an authentic 19th Century appearance, Soren Larsen was actually built in Denmark in 1948-49, as a Baltic trader carrying cargo around the Scandinavian coast.

Named after the Soren Larsen & Sons shipyard that built her, she was designed to use a combination of diesel and auxiliary sail and rigging as a practical solution to post-World War 2 fuel shortages.

The ship is now owned by a private Australian company, Southern Shipping

"She harked back to an earlier time when she was built," says Southern Shipping spokesman Ian Hutchinson.

Her 19th century design made her perfect for her role in The Onedin Line, a gripping drama about James Onedin's battle for the survival of his Liverpool-based shipping line against a background of intense competition, high-seas drama and romance.

The success of the series led to other starring roles for Soren Larsen, notably the BBC docu-drama Shackleton, filmed in Arctic pack ice in 1982. The vessel also pioneered sailing for the disabled in England from 1982-85.

"Her second life," as Ian Hutchinson puts it, started in 1988, when she came to the Southern Hemisphere as the flagship for the Australian Bi-Centennial re-enactment of the first fleet that brought convicts to Botany Bay.

Since then, she has been based in the Pacific, although she demonstrated she is brave as well as beautiful by sailing from New Zealand to Europe via Cape Horn in 1991-92.

"Soren Larsen is one of the few wooden sailing vessels of her type in world-wide survey, which means she is safe to go sailing world wide," says Mr Hutchinson, who was a crew member on that memorable voyage.

Sailing under the UK flag and registered in Colchester, Soren Larsen is 300 tons and 100ft long - or 145ft if you count her imposing bowsprit. She has a core permanent crew of 13 and up to 22 paying guests.

On Sundays until mid-February, Soren Larsen will be doing public day sails from Princes Wharf. Details of these and other adventure sails available are on


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