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 The 6 Metres were the Olympic keel boat class up to just after the War before being superseded by the International 5.5 class.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.


Spring is in the air

Spring is in the air here at the Elephant Boatyard – and some photos to prove it!

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Our latest projects – February 2016

Despite stormy conditions along the south coast, here at the Elephant we are sheltered from the elements, so were fortunately unaffected by the 80mph winds that have battered our shores in recent weeks.

Happily, the sun is now shining and spring is in the air. In the coming weeks both boats and owners will awaken from their winter hibernation as the 2016 sailing calendar begins.

In the meantime, we are busy with more new projects which include the replacement of a teak deck for Swallow (a Sweden 3), significant repair work to a wonderful steam powered launch, and we are delighted to welcome a Dragon to the yard for a full restoration.

We are also now on facebook – check out our new page on



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.

classic 6m sailing yachts

October Update

A lot has happened here at the Elephant over the past few months, so here’s the latest lowdown:

Over the past few months we have completed a number of exciting projects.  Our most recent restoration has been a major refit of Knights Cross, a 38ft twin screw motor yacht built in 1948 by Staniland.  She was launched in the summer, and is a wonderful example of a classic motor cruiser.  Another project for us this year has been the Swan 37 La Belle Aventure. She had a hull superstructure and cockpit repaint, work undertaken by our skilled team.

We have completed major work on some of the Classic 6M sailing yachts berthed at the Elephant, prior to the World Championships in La Trinite, France. This included considerable refurbishment work and a transom rebuild of Stardust. We had 4 of our 6M yachts sailing in the Cowes Classic Regatta at the end of July with excellent results as Nancy took 2nd place overall, Thistle 3rd and Bobkat 4th.

The 2015 Bursledon Regatta was held at the yard at the end of August, with this year’s theme of Superheroes.  The sun shone over Gotham City as Supermen, Minions and Batmobiles cruised around Bursledon waters!  The day was a great success and culminated in a torchlit parade followed by an amazing firework display. We are very proud to be able to host this wonderful event, a real highlight of the year, and one of the few remaining traditional village regattas in the country.

Matt has just returned from competing in the Voiles de St Tropez Regatta on Leopard, a 100ft super yacht. Extreme weather conditions meant that 2 days of sailing were cancelled, but the team did well and Matt returned (relatively!) unscathed.

As the sailing year approaches its end we are now taking bookings for winter lay-up / storage in the yard. Please do contact us for pricing details and to reserve your space.

Elephant Boatyard at high tide

April Update

The Elephant has been a hive of activity over the Easter period, with many boats emerging from winter storage to set sail on the river for the first time this year.  The River Hamble comes to life as spring arrives, and some wonderful breezy days along  with a large dose of sunshine has meant perfect sailing conditions.  We have a number of exciting projects being undertaken in the yard at the moment , including the refurbishment of several 6M yachts, in preparation for the World Championships in France at the end of May.

Other restoration work includes extensive modifications to the hulls (extensions to the bows and transoms) of a motor powered catamaran to improve flotation capabilities and increase performance.

Please do contact us for any queries / estimates.