Victorian half hull ship model of 1-Rater racing yacht “Gaiety Girl”

Victorian half hull ship model of 1-Rater racing yacht “Gaiety Girl”

Code: 10897


H: 25.5cm (10")W: 103cm (40.6")


Late 19th Century Half-Hull Ship's Model of the
'1-Rater' Racing Yacht “Gaiety Girl”

Designed by C.P. Clayton for F. Norman Darbyshire
& F. Holroyd Esquires of Liverpool and
Constructed by Sibbick & Co, Albert Yard, Cowes
The model probably made by Charles Sibbick (1849-1912)
Painted teak and mahogany, with douglas fir and brass rudder details
Victorian, English c.1894

25.5 cm x 103 cm (mounted)

Henry Coleman Folkard, "The Sailing Boat: A treatise on sailing boats and small yachts. their varieties of type, sails, rigs, etc.", London, Chapman & Hall, 1906

Dixon Kemp, "A Manual of Yacht & Boat Sailing" (Ninth Edition), London, Horace Cox, 1900

An extraordinarily decorative and well preserved half hull, boatbuilder's model of the British racing yacht "Gaiety Girl". Beautifully fashioned from teak and mahogany, with stubbed Douglas Fir mast, original varnished finish, white inlay to the waterline with blue painted topping and lacquered brass appliqué rudder detail. The backboard with green paint to the moulded edge. Together with a framed boatbuilder's elevation of the craft as published and a plate from the 1896-97 'Lloyd's Yacht Register' showing the  "Gaiety Girl" racing pennant. An exceptional scale model of a notable yacht with a known history together with other interesting items relating to this boat.

Although from the appearance of this half hull "Gaiety Girl" might seem to have been a substantial vessel, she was actually built for extreme speed and was only 26ft 11" long (20ft 2" on the water line). She was an early incarnation of the type of small novel racing craft classed as a "Rater", conceived in the late 19th century and encouraged by the Yacht Racing Association (who set the limits on yacht length and sail area in each class) to be at the pinnacle of small boat design.

At this time (in the era before serious motor-sport) wealthy gentlemen (such as the Prince of Wales) competed against one another in ever-evolving yachts, the designs of which lasted only a few seasons before being superceded by newer, faster models (in much the same way as F1 cars compete today). To be 'hip' amongst the super-rich of the 1890s, you needed a small "Rater" in the "davits" of your schooner or steam yacht and it has been said that competing for one season in a Rater at the turn of the 19th-20th Century might have cost more than a typical Briton would have earned in an entire lifetime.

Charles Pole Clayton (fl.1884-1901) of Hampshire was one of the foremost designers in Britain of this type of yacht; he was responsible for the design of dozens of fast boats and described as "a prince among naval architects".[1] The 1-Rater "Gaiety Girl" was designed by Clayton in 1894 for the yachtsmen F. Norman Darbyshire and F. Holroyd of Liverpool and was built at the Albert Yard, Cowes on the Isle of Wight by the famous boat builders Charles Sibbick & Co (who probably made this half hull to work from and then present to the owners). Light-weight racing machines were central to Charles Sibbick's business. In 1895 he received a commission to build a 1-Rater for H.R.H. the Duke of York (later George V) and Hon. Derek Keppel who required that the yacht be built within a week (instead of the usual six) in order to allow the Duke to race her between naval commitments. Their craft, named 'White Rose' was delivered by Sibbick within five days.[2]

"Gaiety Girl" raced under Messrs Darbyshire and Holroyd's white diamond flag with alternate red and white corners (recorded on Plate No.77 of 'Lloyd's Yacht Register' of 1896-97 as 'Racing Yacht Flag No.1108'). She was "one of the most successful boats of her class" and continued to be so for several seasons, recording wins in numerous races over the years she was active.[3]

This half hull is in exceptionally good condition and retains the original letterpress label identifying the craft. It is sold together with an original copy of the published plans of the dimensions of the vessel (Plate LXXVII from Dixon Kemp's "A Manual of Yacht & Boat Sailing" (Ninth Edition), London, Horace Cox, 1900) and an original illustrated page from the 1896-97 'Lloyd's Yacht Register', Plate No.77 'Racing Flags of Yachts" depicting Gaiety Girl's colours as 'No.1108' (see flag 4th row down, 4 from left in the final image).

[1] See "The Badminton Library of Sports & Pastimes, Volume 1, 'Yachting', Edited by His Grace the Duke of Beaufort K.G. Assisted by Alfred E.T. Watson", London, Longmans Green & Co., 1894.

[2] The Duke of York recalled in his diary: 'Quite cold this evening. Derek was sailing the "White Rose" our new 1 rater about all the afternoon, she was built here at Cowes by Sibbick, she was begun last Monday [29 July] and was in the water yesterday morning, 5 days to build, a record.' The yacht was raced by Keppel on 12 August, however, for reasons unknown, by 22 August the Duke of York agreed with Keppel that it would be best to sell her, if possible.

[2] “Gaiety Girl” is mentioned in the section on 1-Raters in Henry Coleman Folkard's classic 1906 Treatise "The Sailing Boat: A treatise on sailing boats and small yachts. their varieties of type, sails, rigs, etc." [London, Chapman & Hall, 1906]