PARTRIDGE 1885: The World’s oldest racing yacht at the 2017 Monaco Yacht Show

The Gaff Cutter PARTRIDGE is the world’s oldest, fully operational racing yacht. Partridge was designed by J Beaver Webb (1849-1927) and built by Camper & Nicolson at Gosport in 1885. she was launched on 2 June 1885 by Miss Nora Lapthorn, the daughter of Edwin Lapthorn, who was in charge of the Raysey and Lathorn sail loft in Gosport. This magnificent Victorian gaff cutter was built under the classification of 100 A1 Lloyds in 1885. She sailed and raced along the coast of Southern England, then was sold in 1923 to a Belgian gentleman and then went back to the east coast of England where she remained until 1980.

The hull was originally ‘discovered’ by the late Peter Saxby and Alexander Laird lying in the mud at Tollesbury on the River Blackwater in 1980 and it was then lifted onto a low loader and transported to Shalfleet on the Isle of Wight. All that was known of her history at the time she was discovered was that the vessel has once been called TANAGRA and the previous owner had removed a deck beam with ‘Harry 1885’ carved into it. Further research on the Lloyds Register of 1923 confirmed the existence of a yacht of similar length and tonnage at Tollesbury. The original name was given as PARTRIDGE, built at Camper & Nicolson in Gosport. The records at Lloyds included the yacht’s first entry certificate. This gave a full specification of her construction materials and scantlings, plus midships section stamped by the Lloyd’s surveyor’s officer in Southampton, showing lead keel, floors, planking, bilge stringers, shelf, deck beams and deck. The full-length keelson featured in the plans was found in the hull.

In 1991, PARTRIDGE was moved to Groves and Gutteridge at Cowes. Patterns were made for the gear and cast at Wessex Castings Techniques. Henry Spencer made the running rigging from galvanised steel and 72 blocks were made by Nick Smith at Ryde. She had a Lister Alpha engine 4cy producing 40hp installed, built in 1997.

The restoration took over 18 years. Partridge took to the water again in May 1998.

Since 1998, Partridge has participated almost every year in the mediterranean classic races inlcuding those in Ajaccio, Marseille, Porquerolles, Porto Cervo and Antibes.

In 1999, PARTRIDGE was put on a cargo ship in Southampton and shipped to Majorca in Spain and within a month had won the Conde de Bareclona in Palma.

PARTRIDGE went on to win prizes and awards at Monaco Classic Week, Cannes and Saint-Tropez on the Côte d’Azur.

In 2001, she joined the Regatta set up at Cowes for the Jubilee of the America’s Cup.

In 2014, she won the prestigious Rolex Trophy in Saint-tropez.

In 2015, Partridge celebrated her 130th Anniversary in Monaco and was visited by H.S.H. Prince Albert, Sovereign Prince of Monaco.

Classic Works manages the maintenance of Partridge in La Ciotat which has become her home harbour.

The owner of the PARTRIDGE is Jean-Raymond Boulle. The late Peter Saxby, Alexander Laird and Jean, together with many other craftsmen, volunteers, friends and family have, over the years, through their love and passion for PARTRIDGE kept her afloat and given her a new lease of life.


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