Reconstruction of His Royal Highness’ Yacht Britannia

In order to revive a maritime heritage, K1 Britannia, a team of individuals, ...

Reconstruction of His Royal Highness’ Yacht Britannia

August 01, 2012

Written by Zuzana Bednarova

In order to revive a maritime heritage, K1 Britannia, a team of individuals, will be restoring the legacy of Prince Albert Edward’s yacht ‘His Royal Highness’ Yacht Britannia’ from the 1800s.

Sailing yacht Britannia

His Royal Highness' sailing yacht Britannia

The reconstruction process will commence with a full stripping of the interior and then a thorough process to refit the yacht to exact requirements and specifications. Sailing yacht Britannia will be fully restored to her pristine condition at her new home. Her former namesake was privileged to be tagged as the ‘King’s Yacht’ and her re-construction will be similarly worthy of royal approval. She will once again be legendary and rekindle memories of a world where nobility and honour were the norm.

The yacht Britannia designed by George Lennox Watson was built by Henderson’s on the Clyde in 1893 for Queen Victoria’s son Prince Albert Edward of Wales. She served him and his son King George V with a long yachting career. Both builder and designer made a fine job of the Prince’s new yacht. It was said of Britannia that a better balanced and better built vessel never crossed the starting line.

Yachting writers referred to her shape as the Britannia ideal. She was a handsome vessel; Henderson’s built her light and strong, a perfect race yacht. Yachting journalist, James Michael, once wrote; “so proud over the building of her were the men that the putting of her together was a real labour of love. It was not difficult to imagine that the framework was woven together so beautifully were the many parts joined into and onto each other.”

Built of wood and planking on steel frames she had a major refit in 1931 where she was transformed by a Bermudan rig. Made of silver spruce, it was the largest mast ever made as one spar for a yacht, weighing over 3 tonnes. During her racing career which spanned over 40 years, in 635 races she won 231 firsts and of a total of 350 prizes. By the end of her first year racing, Britannia had scored 33 wins from 43 starts. In her second season she won all 7 races for the big class yachts on the French Riviera and then beat 1893 America’s Cup defender Vigilant in home waters.

In January 1936 the British people mourned as King George V passed away. It was announced that in accordance with the late King’s wishes upon his death that Britannia would be stripped of her spars and fittings and scuttled. So on the 10th July 1936 her hull was picked up by HMS Winchester and towed out to St. Catherine’s Deep near the Isle of Wight. She was then scuttled and sent to rest beneath the waves with a simple garland of flowers placed on her stem head.

In 1994 the only exact replica of Britannia was commissioned and built in Russia gaining Her Majesty’s blessing. Her then owner shipped her from Russia to Norway but unfortunately the completion of the project came to a standstill. It was not until late 2011 that Britannia was acquired for the purpose of completing her rebuild so that she could be used for charitable projects. Britannia was towed from Norway and arrived in the Isle of Wight on 4th February 2012 where she was lifted and dry-docked in her cradle where she sits today at Venture Quays, East Cowes.

She will be rebuilt according to her 1931 specifications when the original Britannia was refitted with a Bermudan rig and converted to the J Class.

As a floating venue Britannia will be gifted to charities around the world for fundraising and other events that will promote charities or provide direct benefits to the charities.

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