'Symbol of peace': WTC fragment to be incorporated in Jacques Brel's sailing yacht

The sailing yacht of Belgian singer and actor Jacques Brel received a fragment of the original World Trade Center in New York on Tuesday. The yacht of the world-renowned artist who passed away in 1978 is currently being restored. The piece of steel will be incorporated into the wheelhouse of the ship.

Flemish Minister of Heritage Matthias Diependaele unveiled the piece of steel from the World Trade Center on Tuesday during a visit to the yacht dubbed Aksoy II. The fragment will be incorporated into the boat's wheelhouse. 

"Fifteen years were spent working on the yacht. The path the Askoy has taken is impressive. This is a good example of how heritage carries a story," says Diependaele. "Besides having been the ship of Jacques Brel, it is now also a symbol of peace. That is certainly doubly important today."

Brel bought the yacht in 1974 and took it on a world tour. He sold the ship in 1976, after which it changed hands several times and eventually stranded on Baylys Beach in 1994, where it lay languishing underwater for 13 years. Belgian brothers Staf and Piet Wittevrongel from Blankenberge had the boat dug up and transferred to Belgium in 2008 for restoration.

The restoration of the ship should be fully completed by 8 April 2023, Jacques Brel's birthday. The Flemish government is providing around 200,000 euros for the final renovation phase, which should make the yacht ready to sail. The Aksoy II was recognised as sailing heritage in April this year. 




Retired carpenter Michel working on the restoration of the Askoy II as a volunteer in 2018 © Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP


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