Restoring a Classic: The Graves Constellation, "Vela"

Restoring a Classic: The Graves Constellation, “Vela”



Check out the whole restoration series on our YouTube Channel or click here for the playlist of all the Vela videos!

Step into the TotalBoat Workshop for a super up-close look at a total refit on a 1965 classic, the Graves Constellation, “Vela.” Her owners are no strangers to yacht racing and when they found this hull for sale, they knew it was a chance to bring an old classic up to modern racing form. Follow along with us as we document, blog here, and post on Facebook and Instagram during the whole restoration. 

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Here is a little background on the boat and this mission. Vela is a Graves Constellation.  She was built by Graves Yacht Yard in Marblehead and is a Herreshoff / Graves collaboration.  L Francis and Sidney Herreshoff did the hull and Graves did the engineering and cabin house. The boat sails brilliantly, but as you can see had a bit of a homely deckhouse which was a result of her original purpose (a 60s family performance cruiser). The boat will be mostly beer can raced in Narragansett and Mt Hope Bay, and with 5 of these things in the fleet, there will be quite a one design line up when Vela returns to the race course next spring. Putting 5 of these boats at the same pin on the chart is really something, since only 27 were built.


Mike Zani has proclaimed the goals of the project as follows:

  • Have fun
  • Use 100% TotalBoat products whenever possible
  • Fundamentally fix Vela as her deck and deckhouse leak like a sieve
  • Unlock the natural beauty in her hull lines
  • Make her more of a daysailer with ability to overnight if needed
  • Maker her easier to sail handle
  • Keep her class legal
  • Install many beer holders
  • Kick everyones ass racing while looking mighty stylish in doing so

We are busy chasing down the important steps to pass along to you all. With a live, daily view into the shop via our LIVE SHOP CAM, and updates on our JD Facebook, Instagram and on these blog posts, you will have a front row seat to the action. And we will crank out some videos along the way explaining some of the finer and cooler parts of the project.

So be sure to sign up for notifications of posts on this blog page, you can sign up for TotalBoat Channel on YouTube, follow our social media (links above) and watch that shop cam. In the end, Vela and her owner(s) will emerge from the TotalBoat shop with quite the machine. Other Constellations….beware!

13 responses to “Restoring a Classic: The Graves Constellation, “Vela”

  1. Pingback: Vela: A Story Best Told From the Bow - TotalBoat
  2. Pingback: Video: Restoring Vela - Episode 1 -
  3. Who used to own Vela I just bought a JOWI steel boat cradle from the new owner of the Leeks home of Ocean Yachts fame it was on their property and one of the Leeks owned a sailboat named Vela the cradle will hold a 30-40′ sailboat any ideas?

  4. Pingback: Restoring Vela: Gone Sailing - The Final Episode - TotalBoat
  5. Nice job guys. Your design is much more aesthetic than the original. My family owned a 1965 Constellation until 1969. The boat was an absolute blast to sail. On a Lake Erie Isles Race in 1967 we actually passed a Morgan 41 broad reaching with a Hard tri-radial up. The boat just sailed best totally overpowered punching through the waves. This boat is 100% responsible for my love of heavy weather sailing.

  6. Pingback: TotalBoat Shop Night 2017 | Vela, Century Resorter, & Hobbie Hull
  7. i believe i sailed on vela in the sixties when she was owned by the graves family. skip milmore — a graves’ grandson — and I were then teenagers. as i recall the boat had no engine — at least we never used it. After one particularly harrowing sail, we returned to see our fathers waiting impatiently at the dock of Marblehead Rental Boat.

    1. Jeff, we bought the Bagheera from Odie Milmore in 1995. Could that be the one you sailed? just sent her to Mike Z yesterday to join this illustrious fleet,

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