Legendary Balaton sailboat now restored after 75 years


  • Chilembu Krisztina

2/22/2019 2:38 PM

Trinidad is a Balaton queen: this 75-year-old sailboat was originally constructed for a German officer, before winning the prestigious Blue Ribbon in a spectacular regatta. More recently, the boat has been refurbished by shipbuilding family, the Bruckners, who have restored her majesty.

The 1967 Blue Ribbon regatta was one of the most exciting in the competition’s history – just as the boats were approaching the finish line, the wind died, stopping the vessels in their tracks. Trinidad helmsman, Tibor Debrőczy, quickly assessed the situation and changed course to be carried on by the little breeze there was from the west. While the rest of the boats struggled, Trinidad picked up speed and won the race by a short head.

Photo: Barna Bruckner

A queen of the lake

Skerry cruisers are wooden yachts measured by the square metre. Vessels of 30 sq m were considered Queens of Lake Balaton, apt in the case of the Trinidad. These boats were more prestigious than their 22- and 40 square-metre counterparts, and the playthings of the wealthy. Only 20 traditional ones were ever built in Hungary.

Photo: Barna Bruckner

This one was constructed in 1944 when the occupying German forces turned the shipyard of Balatonfüred into a military factory. It was built for a German officer, and originally named Blau Vogel, 'Blue Bird'. The ship had many owners until it was renamed in 1962, when it was bought by Tibor Debrőczy. The rest is history.

Photo: Barna Bruckner

A legendary boat reborn

The Bruckner family started working on the boat’s refurbishment three years ago in their Balatonarács workshop, where many other sailboats have already been reconstructed. The family has been in the business for almost a century, with the 77-year-old József Bruckner the oldest active shipbuilder in Hungary. Today, he works with his three sons, Barna, Szabolcs and Balázs, in the workshop he founded in the 1970s.

Photo: Barna Bruckner

Revamping such a legendary boat takes a lot of work and money. Unlike modern ships, it’s made of wood, not plastic. Its timber was sourced from far and wide: African mahogany, Burmese teak and Canadian Sitka spruce. Trinidad had to be entirely rebuilt from top to bottom. The ship is still not finished – the last touches will be added this spring.

Photo: Barna Bruckner

Restoration was financed by Márton Józsa, who holds the speed record for the Blue Ribbon with his ship Fifty-Fifty. According to Barna Bruckner, he wanted to build not only the most beautiful of Balaton's classic sailboats, but also the fastest 30 square-metre skerry cruiser. Trinidad is most certainly the most beautiful of its kind – the rest will be decided in the water later this year.


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