© Absolute

Ongoing Projects / ENCONTRO

Encontro (ex-Valhalla), a CCA Ocean Racer from 1949


19.81 m


14.00 m


4.34 m


2.78 m

sail area

233 m²


33.3 ton

lead keel

13.40 ton

sail number

CCA 165


John G. Alden


Absolute, Lisbon



In 2016 Absolute came into the rescue of the ex-NRP VEGA (ex-VALHALLA).

Back in 2008 the former NRP VEGA was decommissioned from the Portuguese Navy active duty and since then she had been kept in the hard but under a tent thanks to a dedicated and passionate group of Navy officers.

NRP VEGA is regarded as the ex-LIBRIS of Portuguese Yachting. For Absolute there were no doubts, we had to do everything we could to save her from an uncertain fate.

© 2016 Absolute

The decision to buy her from the Navy was an easy one and soon we found a new carrying owner, who renamed her “ENCONTRO” and who commissioned Absolute to restore her back to her former glory.

“ENCONTRO” is now well advanced in her restoration process and she will be hopefully re-launched in the spring of 2022, from the Lisbon Navy Base.

© 2019 Absolute

© 2019 Absolute

© 2021 Absolute



VALHALLA was designed by the famous John G. Alden in 1949, to the Cruising Club of America Rule and was built by the great boatyard of Henry R. Hinckley & Co. in Southwest Harbour, Maine, USA in 1950 for Cummins Catherwood of Philadelphia, P.A.

© Southwest Harbor Public Library Digital Archive - NIRVANA, sistership of ENCONTRO

She had several owners and names in between 1951 and 1965: VALHALLA, CURRITUCK, MAI TAI and JANIE C who cruised and raced her extensively in famous ocean races like the Honolulu Race (Transpac) or the Newport to Annapolis Race…

Extract from the 19th HONOLULU RACE PROGRAMME


John Griffith was back with another beautiful boat, absolutely delightful, a 65-foot Alden yawl he called MAI TAI. The boat was magnificently equipped – the only thing was that it was equipped for weekend racing on Long Island Sound and 1955 was a gut-buster for gear in the Honolulu race.

We had a big crew. We had two or three paid hands as well as a crew of six or eight, as Mr. Griffith liked to travel in style. The MAI TAI had a wide variety of cotton spinnakers, all of which were blown out miles before we ever got to Honolulu. Although this was the day when synthetic spinnakers began coming in, they weren’t popularly accepted yet.

When we were about two-thirds of the way to Honolulu we ran into a series of violent squalls, one of which managed to break the gooseneck fitting off the main boom. The boom was flying free at the forward end, but it could be lashed down on one side or the other until it came time to jibe. Then we had a problem! So we rigged up an ingenious arrangement of four or five or six blocks and tackles with a man on each one. One guy would slack off and the next one wouldtake up. We’d ease the boom back so the gooseneck would clear the main boom, and then we’d ease it over to the other side. Then we’d jibe the main over and we’d be off on the other tack. (…)

In any event, Mr. Griffith really did it right. He catered our reception at the Ala Wai with a band, bar and so forth. It was quite a time, and a delightful race in spite of various breaking parts.

© Absolute

In 1965, the Portuguese industrial José Manuel de Mello acquired JANIE C in the U.S. and changed her name to ARREDA IV. Keen on defeating the established fleet of Portuguese ocean racers like FOXHOUND, ASTRAPE, ALBACORE or WHISPER (all cutter rigged yachts) he commissioned the office of Sparkman & Stephens to design a new masthead cutter sail plan and build a new aluminum mast. The office of John Alden was also called to design a new and heavier lead keel.


ARREDA IV was very active in the Portuguese racing circuit from 1965 to 1970 but in 1973 he decided to donate her to C.N.O.C.A., a Sailing Club for Navy Officers, who renamed her VEGA.

In 1976, VEGA was incorporated in the Portuguese Navy and became an active navy ship with the official designation of NRP VEGA.

From 1976 to 2008, she cruised and raced through out a very active sailing instruction and institutional programme that took her to sail in different continents and to many countries.

ENCONTRO’s list of owners and names

1949 - 1955

Cummins Catherwood - VALHALLA

1955 - 1957

John Griffith - MAI TAI

1957 - 1963


1963 - 1965

L. Coleman - JANIE C

1965 - 1973

José Manuel de Mello - ARREDA IV

1973 - 1975


1975 - 2017

Portuguese Navy - NRP VEGA

2017 - 2018

Absolute - VEGA

2018 - present

Charters' Family - ENCONTRO

Some highlights in her racing career


15th place - Newport to Annapolis Race


10th place - Transpac Race (Honolulu Race)


8th place - Annapolis to Newport Race


16th place - Annapolis to Newport Race


14th place - Annapolis to Newport Race


3rd place - Corporação de Pilotos' Race


2nd place - Sesimbra to Cascais Race (D. Carlos I Trophy)


4th place - Lisboa to Setubal Race (Wintermantel Trophy)


1st - Sesimbra to Cascais Race (D. Carlos I Trophy)


3rd place - Berlengas Race (Salazar Trophy)


3rd place - Tenerife to Bermuda Race


14th place - Bermuda to Newport Race


Operation Sail 1976


8th place - Channel Race (Solent to Le Havre)


Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II's Commemorations


1st place - Las Palmas to Funchal Race


2nd place - Funchal to Vilamoura Race


1st place - Lisbon to Southampton Race


1st place - Lisboa/Horta/Lisboa Race (Infante D. Henrique Trophy)


Veteran's Prize in Canary Islands to Funchal Race


1st place - Prize for the Most Elegant Boat (Fundación Hispania Trophy)

© Southwest Harbor Public Library Digital Archive - NIRVANA, sistership of ENCONTRO