The incomparable Montague Dawson shows spectators aboard a green-hulled cruising ketch watching the two six metre racing yachts YEOMAN and LALAGE in what is likely a practice race prior to the 1948 Olympics at Torbay (Torquay). The scene is off the Isle of Wight, headquarters of the Royal Yacht Squadron, which lies about 150 miles east of Torbay at the same latitude.
The sea is glassy in the light winds, and all three of the sailing craft are on starboard tack with their spinnakers set. The cruising ketch wears tanbark sails on her main and mizzen masts, adding a colorful element to both the scene and the composition. The two yachts of the title, YEOMAN and LALAGE, are shown to the right in the mid distance. The dark hulled YEOMAN leads LALAGE in the shifty wind conditions.
KA 1 Yeoman (ex K 4 Esme) was a 1937 Camper & Nicholson and the first six-metre design from the legendary Charles A. Nicholson. Not much is known of LALAGE except that both vessels participated in the six-metre event in the 1948 Summer Olympics program.
The International Six Metre class is a class of classic racing yachts. Sixes are a construction class, meaning that the boats are not identical but are all designed to meet specific measurement formula, in this case International rule. "Six metre" in class name does not, somewhat confusingly, refer to length of the boat, but of the formula; 6mR boats are, on average, 10–11 metres long. In their heyday in the 1920's and 30's, Sixes were the most important international yacht racing class, and they are still actively raced around the world.
This painting resided for several years in the collection of George Nicholson, the second son of Charles A. Nicholson (who designed YEOMAN), and who was a director of the international yacht brokerage Camper & Nicholson between 1961 and 1969. A world class yachtsman himself, George Nicholson would have recognized and had great appreciation for Dawson's technical accuracy and astute familiarity with the marine genre in selecting this composition for his important and greatly admired collection.
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