Crossing Paths With a Legend

When 13-year-old Bill Lefakinis first visited the famed yacht Christina O in 1959 on the Hudson River in New York City, little did he realize that a 45 year old bond was about to start with the legendary vessel.

Lefakinis, chairman of Valef Yachts, had an opportunity to visit the now-famous Aristotle Onassis yacht due to a family invitation extended to Spyros Skouras, by the owner. Skouras, chairman of 20th Century Fox, was invited to the yacht, with Winston Churchill and Maria Callas in attendance. This was heady stuff for a young lad, but it also instilled in Lefakinis a love of yachts in general and yachting in particular.

As a result, the Lefakinis love of yachting has led to his stewardship of a yacht chartering business, Valef Yachts.

He fondly relates how Valef Yachts and the Christina O share a joint tradition and history that is remarkable. The "M/Y Christina O" story actually originated in 1943 in Canada. Back then, the ship was known as the frigate Stormont, a convoy escort. Aristotle Onassis bought it in 1954, turning the frigate into the history's most famous yacht. The Onassis concept for "Christina O" was to convert the vessel into a powerful symbol of his business empire with unique and total elegance.

Onassis' guests on board "Christina O" were truly the world's most famous, powerful and influential people of the time, including Sir Winston Churchill, The Aga Khan, King Farouk, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Eva Peron, Greta Garbo and countless other famous personalities. "Christina O" was also the scene of the world's most celebrated love affair when Onassis courted Jackie Kennedy. Three years after Onassis' death, his daughter Christina, the yacht's namesake, donated the yacht to the Greek Government for the President to entertain visiting Heads of State. Unfortunately, the Christina O was used less often and eventually went through a long period of neglect.

Then in 1998, she was purchased by a family friend of Onassis who spent over 60 million dollars to bring it back to the original Onassis' condition. Ironically, Bill Lefakinis and has now come full circle with the Christina O.

What's next for Bill Lefakinis? The tireless and dynamic yacht chartering entrepreneur was very active with the 2004 Olympics in Greece and enjoyed the opportunity to showcase the Greek Islands as one of the world's truly unique yacht charter destinations.

Geoff Caplan operates http://geoff-caplan.com and is a professional online marketing consultant and copywriter with eleven years of continuous experience. His diversified background includes search engine marketing, e-commerce strategy and online public relations. He has lectured extensively on subjects related to online marketing and has worked for some of the Web's highest traffic brands, including eDiets and myTravelUSA.


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