Leilani: The Prettiest Girl at the Dance
Among Brooklyn's sailing set, its well known the prettiest girl at the dance is Leilani, a 50-foot Lawley yawl, built in 1903. She is owned by Brian and Florence Kearney and hails out of Miramar Yacht Club in Brooklyn.
Established in Massachusetts in 1866, George Lawley & Son was known as one of the finest yacht builders in the country and rivaled famed Herreshoff as the preeminent boat builder of the day. Lawley produced more than 1,100 yachts and 1,890 tenders (this doesn't include military contracts) until it closed operations in 1945. Among Lawley's boats were the America's Cup contenders: Mayflower, Puritan, Jubilee, Vanite, Yankee and Whirlwind.
Originally named Janet, Leilani was purchased in 1939 by the Frank family, who owned her for 50 years. In 1989, the Kearney's acquired her and spent more than 18 months repairing and restoring her hull. Today, Leilani stands out on her mooring in Sheepshead Bay among the many fiberglass boats. A real throwback to the days when the Lipton's and Vanderbilt's raced their custom sailboats around the marks. On the water, her graceful lines, make her a true delight to watch. And she does move. Leilani has taken home some silver in her day, including the Mayor's Cup, which is takes place off Manhattan. We love the grace, craftsmanship and powerful sail plan of classic racing yachts. Leilani has all three and some other indescribable mystique that attracts you to her.
As we went by to take some photos of Brooklyn's treasured yacht (we are sorry, our photos do not do Leilani justice), we couldn't help notice the "for sale" hanging from her mizzen mast. If we had the money, we'd make an offer and happily be the next caretaker of this amazing vessel. Until that day happens, we'll continue to admire her for the floating treasure she is.