Tuiga, Hispania and The Lady Anne
Oil on canvas. 84x53.5cm.
Three members of the beautiful and enchanting 15-Metre class, racing in Cowes Roads in 1912. They are TUIGA (D3), HISPANIA (D5) and THE LADY ANNE (D10). It was a popular class. In total, 19 were built. Sadly, WW1 brought the class to an end. These three are still with us today, beautifully restored, along with Mariska (D1). All were William Fife III designs.
Moonbeam IV takes on the Big Class, Monday August 6th 1923
This was a Royal London Yacht Club regatta for yachts of over 70 tons(TM).
Moonbeam got a flyer but was overhauled before the Western Mark, as depicted here. She crossed the line last, as you would expect in this company, but won on handicap.
This was Post War revival racing. Terpsichore had been commissioned in 1920 by ‘Harry’ Lee to provide an opponent for The King’s Britannia. Mrs Workman fitted out Nyria to join them (Bermudan rigged for two years by this time, 1923). Handicap racing involving more than one class widened the available sport at this time. Moonbeam IV had been commissioned in 1914 by Charles Plumtree Johnson but mothballed because of WW1.
This painting won the coveted Classic Boat award, for the best 'Classic Boat' painting in the Royal Society of Marine Artists annual exhibition 2010.
Classic Boat's Art Editor, Peter Smith, has given permission for us to quote from his review, which began :-
"My choice as winner of the Classic Boat award at this year's 65th RSMA annual exhibition was Roger Davies' meticulously detailed oil painting titled 'Moonbeam takes on The Big Class, 1923'. It shows Moonbeam IV lying third behind Britannia, with Nyria in the lead and Trepsichore at the rear in the Royal London Yacht Club regatta for yachts over 70 tons in that year.
Roger, born in 1945, studied at various ports around the country, including a Masters degree in fine art at the Royal College of Art in London. His clients include Lulwoth's owner Johan van den Bruele, and restoration project manager Giuseppe Longo." Classic Boat magazine, December 2010.
Lulworth, Mariette and Cambria
This painting is my commemoration of the newly restored Lulworth's regatta debut at the Argentario Sailing Week in June 2006. She is the sole survivor of the legendary Big Five from the 1920s.
She is seen here in a head-to-head duel with the 1915 Herreshoff schooner Mariette, with the bermudan-rigged Fife 23 metre Cambria astern.
In the distance is Iduna, Lulworth's mothership, which discreetly followed the action and so provided grandstand views for Johan van den Bruele's guests for the event.
I was one of those privileged guests and I've painted this with reference to my own photographs taken from Iduna's rib. It has been a thrill for me to witness this sight and record this historic event.
All four are classic vintage yacht restorations.
Lulworth, recently restored to her 1926 condition, sailing off Portovenere in northern Italy. Her sea trials were in this region as the waters off Viareggio in Tuscany, where she was restored, are too shallow for her deep keel.
Lulworth is the largest gaff-rigged cutter in the world. She was champion of the British regatta circuit's Big Class in 1925 and 1926.
The Big Five
This painting, commissioned to celebrate the restored Lulworth's relaunch in 2006, depicts 'The Big Five' racing off the Royal Yacht Squadron during 'Cowes Week' 1926.They are shown near-to far in the order of their overall seasons performance: Lulworth, Shamrock, White Heather II, Britannia and Westward. This painting was commissioned as the centerpiece of Lulwoth's saloon. (photo courtesy sylulworth.com).
Lulworth's early performances were disappointing but Charles Nicholson made changes that realised her potential. She dominated the 'Big Class' in 1925 and again in 1926 under Sir Mortimer Singer's colours, as shown here.
Lulworth was designed and built to rival Britannia in the breezy conditions in which the royal cutter excelled. They are seen here, head to head, passing the Needles, off the Isle of Wight, in just those conditions - and against the tide.
Lulworth dominated the Big Class in 1926, as she did the previous year. At this time she was owned by Sir Mortimer Singer (of sewing machine fame) whose colours she has aloft.
1930 was Lulworth's last racing season. She could not easily be altered to conform to the new rule change that ushered in the era of the J-class, here represented by Shamrock V.
The boats portrayed in the painting were the top three in the performance tables that year. Westward was second, largely because she made just 14 starts. Only the new 'state of the art' Shamrock V truly headed Lulworth, but even that was not on a full season's racing. Because of her Americas Cup Challenge she only made 22 starts to Lulworth's 45. A fine end to a glorious racing career, still in the vanguard of the 'Big Class'.
She became a cruising yacht, but eventually fell into a sorry state of disrepair and decay.
Happily, that's not the end of the story. A man with the vision and the necessary resources has commissioned her restoration. She should be racing again in Classic Yacht Regattas from 2005.
The royal cutter and the great racing schooner Westward, seen head-to-head, reaching out of the Solent into Christchurch bay in 1925.
This was the first season of 'Big Class' racing for Westward under the colours of her new owner, T.B.Davis.
Though it is overcast and blustery the only concession to the conditions either of these famously 'heavy weather' boats make is the setting of their smallest jib topsails.
In Britannia's case, this shows she still has a 'stepped' topmast. The following year she had a topmast socketed into her main, as part of a major refit. The object was to save weight aloft. This change did mean that in the heaviest weather, when no topsails would be set, her topmast could not be reefed to save wind age aloft. Gains and losses: you can't have everything! Nevertheless, this was a significant step in the evolution from her original gaff rig to her eventual Bermudan rig.
The 'Big Class' of 1926 comprised just these five boats, seen here off the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes, in a light south-westerly. Near to far, they are: Britannia, White Heather, Westward, Shamrock and Lulworth.
In a brisk south-easterly breeze, White Heather is seen here duelling with the green-hulled Shamrock. To weather is Britannia, astern Cambria (in her first season) and the schooner Westward.
I am often asked how I begin a painting such as Westward duelling with Britannia. The answer is, as always, with an idea. Here, I had been reading about some stirring races the cutter Britannia had been involved in. The schooner Westward, designed by Nat Herreshoff and built in 1910, featured in many of these. Westward was large for a racing yacht of that time and performed very well in the windy conditions that Britannia also excelled in. The two would race in heavy weather that had the rest of the class remaining at their moorings.
So I decided to depict them neck-and-neck on a breezy day with the others of the so-called 'Big five' astern. The composition was worked out through a series of drawings. The structural detail is sourced from photographs. The available photographs may not show the boats from the desired angle and the transposition has to be effected by the imagination.
Britannia's career is the backbone of large yacht racing history. From her early contests with Valkyrie II in 1893, which brought the 'Big Class' into being, followed by the American challenge of Navahoe and Vigilant, she was inspirational.
In the early 1920s she met the 'moderns' like White Heather, Shamrock IV, Nyria and Lulworth . Britannia was up to the task and helped revive post-war yachting. In the 1930s she was again refitted and rerigged to meet the challenge of the adapted 'moderns' and the J-cutters like Cambria, Candida, Astra and Shamrock V, and later Velsheda and Endeavour I and II. In this she was less successful, but her contribution to keeping 'Big Class' yachting alive is unparalleled.