Aeolus – a fast and beautiful racing yacht.

Aeolus 30 Square Metre, built in 1989, is a fine example of the legendary Knud H Reimers International racing design. A fast and beautiful boat, the classic lines of her composite hull combined with teak cabin coamings, cockpit and brightwork give a beautiful, traditional look.  Just what we love!


Her new owner came to the yard earlier this year to discuss some repair work, and initial plans were simply to replace areas of her deck. It soon became apparent that there was more work to be done. We removed the teak laid deck, repaired soft areas of her lightweight deck, and fitted a thin layer of plywood to replace the thickness of the teak. We then epoxy sheathed the whole of the deck and replaced all of the deck fittings.


Many hours of careful workmanship later and she is now back in fine racing condition. She recently competed in the 2018 Round the Island Race, coming 3rd in class, proving her pedigree on the race course.


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Masters in refit & restoration

Despite the recent freezing winter weather conditions, life here at the yard is anything but dull. Although we work across all different kinds of boats, from cruising to racing, wooden to GRP, our absolute passion is Classic Yachts. Traditional wooden craft, and bringing history back to life, are simply what we LOVE. Our in-house team of boat builders are knowledgable and highly skilled at traditional and new working methods and take an immense pride in giving an old boat new life. They are currently working flat out on a diverse number of projects, each with its own set of unique challenges. But most importantly, with amazing results!

Here’s just a few recent examples of what we’ve been up to:

Towards the end of 2017 we completed the build of a new 64ft mast out of sitka spruce for a 1963 Sparkman & Stevens 51ft yawl. We are now putting the final touches to a new boom for her. The coins inlaid into the base of her mast will bestow good luck for her and all who sail in her.


wood for mast 2   IMG_8280  Mast shot   Stepping the mas on the kings head

      Mast1    New Mast and crane


Carlotta is a recently restored Bristol Pilot Cutter, shipped to the yard directly from Canada.  She was built in 1899 and has a fascinating history of high profile owners and daring escapades – including World War II escapes, being hit by a hurricaine, and many more! We are undertaking some essential planking repairs as well as extensive rigging improvements.

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Sphex is an X boat that came to us in desperate need of some TLC.  After some work on her stem repair, she is now almost to the stage when we can crack on with her topsides

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John Dory is a 45ft Bermudan Sloop built in 1938 with a fine racing pedigree.  Owned by one of our longest standing customers (Ray has been coming here for more than 40 years) she is in our shed being re-decked.

JohnDory2           JohnDory3

And finally, the refurbishment of Sanjula’s interior is now complete. She is Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s Farr 56ft who came in for a full internal refit. We have turned the forward cabin from a double bunk area into two twin cabins and a new head, and have also installed a watertight door.

         ”  The work is excellent. In fact, you would think Sanjula had been built with the modifications that the
Elephant Boatyard have now completed” 

       Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

Autumn Newsletter 2017


The 6M class were well represented in July’s Panerai Classics Regatta in Cowes, with Thistle, Melita and St Kitts from the yard all taking part.  St Kitts, built by the Elephant and a past European champion, came 2nd, and Tom and his team in Thistle came 3rd after some exciting moments out on the water.  It really was champagne sailing at its best.

Cowes Week was a wild and blustery affair, with some very stretching sailing conditions. Premier Cru, our in-house 1720, performed well and managed to secure an impressive win on ‘Windy Wednesday’.

But the biggest highilight of the year so far for us has to be the Hamble Classics Regatta, hosted by the Royal Southern Yacht Club in September. A total of 64 classic yachts took part in the event, split into 8 classes. Many of the beautiful boats looked after by the yard took part, including Ivy Green and Thalia, as well as Jonty Sherwill’s – the race organiser – Cockleshell. The end result was both a stunning spectacle and an exciting weekend of racing.  As official partner of the event, The Elephant Boatyard once again hosted a post-race Rum Party on the pontoons which went down a storm, providing many thirsty sailors with an afternoon sharpener before a well attended dinner at the club.

Classics 6


We are proud to be one of the few remaining boatyards on the South Coast to have a dedicated team of skilled boatbuilders with an unparalleled level of expertise in boatbuilding and repair. Matt and his team have undertaken a range of specialist projects this year on a number of beautiful sailing yachts, including:

  • Making a new mast for a 1963 Sparkman & Stevens 51ft yawl
  • Extensive repair work to the classic yacht Whisperer, a classic Holman 35.
  • Re-caulking the teak deck of Thalia, an 1888 classic gaff cutter.
  • Rigged / stepped the mast of Carlotta, a recently restored 1899 Bristol Pilot Cutter shipped to the yard directly from Canada.

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Haul-out season is almost upon us, so please do advise us of your winter layup requirements, including any additional work required, as soon as possible.

The earlier we receive your request the more likely we will be able to meet your specific date requirements, subject to tides etc. Those boats who have booked additonal work in early will be prioritised, as the yard is always very busy at the beginning of the year.

Please contact the office on 02380 403 268 if you need a winter layup form.

Nigella in the cradle hoist after renovation

Meet the team

We are proud to be one of the few remaining boatyards on the South Coast to have a dedicated team of skilled craftsmen with an unparalleled level of expertise in boat-building and repair.

Headed up by Matt Richardson, the team has a passion for sailing – both racing and cruising – which gives us an in-depth understanding of our client’s precise requirements.

With some notable wooden yachts built at the yard, plus hi-tech racers and numerous extensive refits of important yachts, our team have a comprehensive knowledge of both traditional boat-building techniques and high-tech composites.

Whether it’s a classic wooden racing yacht or an elegant gentleman’s launch, our customers are involved at every stage of the process to ensure we create a bespoke boat which truly suits their needs.


Elephant Boatyard, Bursledon. 21st June 2017.Elephant Boatyard, Bursledon. 21st June 2017.Elephant Boatyard, Bursledon. 21st June 2017.Elephant Boatyard, Bursledon. 21st June 2017.Elephant Boatyard, Bursledon. 21st June 2017.

Ian Roman photography

Some great photos of the Elephant Boatyard nestled into the banks of the River Hamble. Thanks to Ian Roman for some brilliant shots taken a few days ago, these ones done using a drone. Look out for more to follow.

Elephant Boatyard, Bursledon. 21st June 2017.

Elephant Boatyard, Bursledon. 21st June 2017.

Elephant Boatyard, Bursledon. 21st June 2017.


“Winter Warmer Deals” for winter berthing at the Elephant Boatyard

We still have some spaces for winter berthing (December – end March) on our sheltered pontoon berths in Bursledon Pool, subject to availability.  All berths have electricity and water, and our yard can take on any refit requirements to enable you to get a head start for the 2017 season.

  • Walk-on access to all moorings
  • Lift out facilities – travel hoist and slipways
  • Facilities for lifting out masts and checking rigging
  • Experienced workforce
  • Fantastic restaurant located on site (The Ferry)
  • Near local chandleries

Please contact us for details on mooring fees & our competitive haul-out rates.

Tel:             02380 403268


Address:     Lands End Road, Old Bursledon, SO31 8DN

Charles Stanley Cowes Classics Week 2016

Our anticipation is building as the Charles Stanley Cowes Classics Week starts today – the largest Classic regatta event in the UK. It is sure to be a week of exhilarating racing on the Solent, with many different classes of traditional yachts taking part. But it is the 6M class that hold a special place in our hearts. These beautiful boats are one of the most elegant and exciting international racing classes. Here at the Elephant, not only do we race them but we also lovingly restore them. We have a long history of building, refitting and renovating these beautiful craft and would definitely go as far as saying that they’re one of our specialisms. The Elephant Boatyard is the UK home to a number of 6M yachts, several of which we have built (Georgia, St Kitts) or restored (Thistle, Nancy).

Tom is fanatical about racing 6 Metres and will be out at Cowes Classics week as well as the Panerai British Classic Week in Cowes (16-23 July) and the Hamble Classics Regatta at the Royal Southern Yacht Club (24-25 September).  So if you happen to be out on the Solent, keep an eye out for Tom and his crew as they cut a dash through the water.


6M Article – by Tom Richardson (River Hamble Handbook)


The International 6 Metre Class has long associations with the River Hamble which go back before the First World War. The 6 Metres were the Olympic keel boat class up to just after the War before being superseded by the International 5.5 class. Many of the most competitive 6’s were sailed out of the Hamble which was the centre for many of the top crews who fished during the winter months and raced on the Solent during the summer. The class almost died out in the late 30’s due to the high building and running costs. Many of the older yachts which had been converted for cruising, raced in the separate Q class.

There was a resurgence in interest in 6’s between 1947 and the early 50’s with new boats being built which included “Thistle” which still races out of the Hamble and the “Royal Thames” in which John and Bill Foulkes of Foulkes’s Boatyard Bursledon, crewed, a period when she won many prizes.

Due to the efforts of a small band of enthusiasts and the rebirth of the World and European Championships, the 6 Metre Class started to come alive again in the UK with the first post war Britiish Championships being raced at Cowes in 1985. Col. Tim Street was the prime mover. Through his great efforts and the input and enthusiasm of a number of top sailors, who wanted a class that could give them exciting racing, without the requirement of having to build a new boat every year to remain competitive.

A number of modern 6’s were built with a fin keel and separate rudder as opposed to the Classic 6’s with the more traditional long keel. Two new Ian Howlett designs were built at the Elephant Boatyard, Bursledon in the late ‘80s. The first was “St.Kitts” which won the 1988 Europeans in Falmouth and is still sailing out of the Hamble with her close sister “Georgia”.

The Royal Southern Yacht Club has always been a big supporter of the Class and has organised British Championships, the Southern 6 and many other events for the Class.

The 2015 season included the 6 Metre World Championships with over 40 boats racing in Brittany at La Trinite, the British Championships with the RSrnYC, the Cowes Classics, Royal Yacht Squadron 200th Anniversary and the Bursledon Swanwick Regatta. A full on year with fantastic sailing with great people in beautiful boats that handle like a dream. Hard to beat!

A class that was born back in 1907 and which competed in the first Olympic Regatta at Ryde in 1908 is still going strong and always looking for new challenges. Long may they grace the River Hamble.


Nigella at the Royal Yacht Squadron

Nigella article in November issue of Classic Boat magazine

Nic Compton, well respected classic boat journalist, was so taken with Nigella that he has just written a piece about her in the November issue of Classic Boat magazine. He tells the story of Nigella from her beginnings as Leo Rothschild’s elegant motor launch, through to her brief time spent as a museum piece in Cornwall and subsequent restoration at the Elephant Boatyard.

Built in 1959, Nigella was used by Rothschild to cross from Exbury on the Beaulieu River over to the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes.  She was effectively the first prototype of the famous Nelson motorboats, and delivered style, comfort and exceptional performance.  After 44 years of service, Rothschild donated Nigella to the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall which is where Tom Richardson found her. After being brought back to the Elephant Boatyard, Nigella has been lovingly restored, and now cuts a dash across the Solent where she makes the perfect day cruiser.

This wonderful image of Nigella was found in the Royal Yacht Squadron archives.  There are lots more photos of Nigella on our Classic Restorations page.