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Mat Ali was commissioned in the early 1930s by Peter Edwards, an Englishman who was manager of the Teluk Pirah Estate in Malaysia, an early palm oil plantation. Mat Ali was the second of two yachts built to the Khamseen design of T. Harrison Butler. There was an enormous tree on the plantation of an extremely hard oriental hardwood, Chengal. Edwards had the tree cut down and sawn on site to provide the timber for his new yacht, built in 1935 by a local builder named Mat Ali.

Mat Ali, launched on January 1st, 1936, was cruised extensively by Edwards in Malayan waters for 16 months. In May 1937 she was shipped to Port Said and then sailed to the Helford River via the Aegean Islands, Corinth Canal, Straits of Messina, and the French canals (Cette to Bordeaux).

Mat Ali is currently based in Dartmouth and is a regular participant in the Falmouth Classics.