Berthon Boat Company Yard No. 550 – Berthon Boat Company’s Harry G. May throwing down of the gauntlet in 1934 – a challenge to a client who had jilted his design for another boat – was the naming origin of a class that has become legendary in British yacht design and building.
It was May’s GAUNTLET, drawn by in-house designer Rodney W. Paul, that was to prove the superior boat in the eventual contest. The subsequent Gauntlet Class, ranging in size from 8 to 26 tons Thames Measurement (a unit of volume rather than weight), became one of the earliest sail powered ‘series’ production cruiser/ racer types in British waters – and an intrinsically British classic.
NAUSIKAA was the second 8-Ton TM Gauntlet built by Berthon, NAUSIKAA’s purchaser was local landowner and future Member of Parliament for the New Forest, (later Sir) Oliver Crosthwaite Eyre, a gift for his father, Major Jack Crosthwaite Eyre.
As usual with yachts first launched in 1939, her destiny after one season was wartime lay-up, presumably with her builders. Not long after the war she was sold to E.J. Jeremy of Bournemouth, and in 1948 to Second World Water fighter pilot ace Wing Commander Alec Ingle, DFC, AFC, who was shot down four times and once captured an intact, just landed Nazi Focke-Wulf Fw190 fighter plane near his airfield after chasing it by car and holding up the pilot with his finger impersonating a gun.
Then in 1949 her ownership came full circle with purchase by author Graham Greene, who until 1948 had been a director at Oliver Crosthwaite Eyre’s publishing house Eyre & Spottiswoode. Greene didn’t have NAUSIKAA for long, but seems to have enjoyed some adventures with her on England’s south and east coasts. As Nic Compton wrote in his 2013 Classic Boat magazine story that broke the Greene and NAUSIKAA story: “sailing his own boat in England, it seems, didn’t suit him quite as well as sailing other people’s boats in the south of France”. There followed a series of short term ownerships:
- 1950-1953 R.H. Goddard (Ipswich) & F.W. Knight (London)
- 1953-1953 Mrs Diana L Spencer (London)
- 1954-1954 Mrs Diana Tylden-Wright (London)
Then in 1954 Dr Peter Burnett and his family’s love affair with NAUSIKAA began and lasted for more than 40 years of cruising the south coast of England, and to Brittany and Scotland. – 1994-2000 Stewart McDonald, Cowes – 2000-2012 John Hutchings & Family (London/ Guernsey) – 2012-2018 David Messum It was London art dealer and serial classic yacht collector David Messum who undertook the extensive refit detailed above, having purchased NAUSIKAA in semi derelict condition with so many interior changes that little was original any more.
In 2014, on her first outing to the Panerai British Classic Yacht Club Regatta she proved her worth in winning the Round The Isle of Wight Race from 29 starting yachts. During the 2019 and 2020 seasons NAUSIKAA has collected silverware at the Panerai BCYC Regatta, Cowes Classics and Cowes Spring Classics.
2022 John Watkins, NAUSIKAA’s most recent owner, brings the classic yacht to the West Country, where she will cruise, and participate in local races and classic regattas.