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Charles Ernest Nicholson (1868 – 26 February 1954) was a British yacht designer.

Charles Ernest Nicholson
Charles Ernest Nicholson.jpg
Born1868 (1868)
Died26 February 1954(1954-02-26) (aged 85–86)
OccupationYacht designer


He was born in 1868.

Nicholson's first design of note was the Redwing class. The Bembridge sailing club met in October 1896 to agree the need for a shallow draughted yacht - to allow for the shoal waters of Bembridge Harbour - which could be sailed single-handed, to replace the expensive half racers. Nicholson designed the yacht in ten days, and by 1898 the fleet consisted of 16 boats, all built by the Camper & Nicholsons shipyard.[1]

In the early 1900s Nicholson developed a new powered craft which would enable the owners to come from their "big-boats" before and after the competitions. Named the Gelyce class, the name derived from the combined first and last letter of their respective wives: Gertie, Lucy, and Constance.

In 1912, Nicholson introduced the 15mR design Istria with a Marconi rig, the first yacht in the world with a lightweight, laminated wood construction. This led to further developments and growing expertise in the use of lightweight materials which saw its fruition in the use of plywood in deck construction.[2] This ultimately led to arguably Nicholson's most beautiful sailing creation, the 1927 commissioned Vita (later Creole) was built on behalf of Alexander Smith Cochran.[3]

He died on 26 February 1954.[4]

Nicholson designsEdit

  • Dacia (5-rater, 1891)
  • Marigold (cutter, 1892) - still sails
  • Avel (cutter, 1896) - still sails as tender to Creole (see below)
  • Black Swan (originally Brynhyld, yawl, 1899) - still sails
  • Merrymaid (handicap cruising yacht, 1904) - still sails[5]
  • Norland (schooner, 1904)
  • Nyria (first large Bermuda cutter, 1906)
  • Brynhild II (23mR, 1907)
  • Joyette (originally Almara) (101 ft, 1907) - under refit
  • Orion (racing schooner, 1910) - still sails
  • Istria (15mR, 1912)
  • Marguerita (racing schooner, 1913)
  • Pamela (15mR, 1913)
  • Paula III (15mR, 1913)
  • Shamrock IV (Universal Rule 75-footer, 1914) for Sir Thomas Lipton
  • Patricia (R-Class, 1921)
  • Sylvia (Bermuda ketch, 1925) - still sails
  • Creole (originally Vira, three-mast staysail schooner, 1927) - still sails
  • Astra (23mR, 1928) - still sails
  • Lady Van" (Universal Rule “R” Class, 1928) - still sails
  • Candida (23mR, 1929) - still sails
  • Driac (Bermudian cutter, 40', 1930) - still sails
  • Shamrock V (J-class yacht, 1930) for Sir Thomas Lipton - still sails [6]
  • Patience (Bermuda cutter, 1931) - still sails
  • Velsheda (J-class yacht, 1933) - still sails
  • Endeavour (J-class yacht, 1934) - still sails [7]
  • Endeavour II (J-class yacht, 1936)
  • Bloodhound (12mR, 1936) - still sails
  • Oiseau de Feu (originally Firebird X, offshore racing ketch, 1937) - still sails
  • Trivia (12mR, 1937) - still sails
  • Folly (8mR first rule) 1909 was his boat (Mr Charles E Nicholson designed for himself and was built at Camper & Nicholson in Gosport). Still sails and race.


  1. ^ "Redwing". ClassicBoat. Archived from the original on 2007-06-16. Retrieved 2007-06-16. Designer Charles E Nicholson was approached and ten days later the plans for a new one-design class, the Redwing, were laid.
  2. ^ Philip Allum (July 2004). "A short History of Camper and Nicholsons 1782–2005" (PDF). Good Old Boat (37): 23.
  3. ^ "Creole". Yachtspotter. Retrieved 2007-06-16.
  4. ^ "Charles Nicholson". Reuters in The Montreal Gazette. March 1, 1954. Retrieved 2010-10-15. Charles Nicholson a British yacht designer and ... took part in the famed America cup races before the Second World War died.
  5. ^ "S/Y Merrymaid website".
  6. ^ "Players of the Game; Charles E. Nicholson. Designer of Shamrock V. A Builder of Yachts. Designed Famous Schooner. Is in Sole Charge. Challenger Sleek and Handsome. Very Successful at Starts". New York Times. August 18, 1930. Retrieved 2010-12-14. Victory or defeat for Sir Thomas Lipton in his fifth at tempt to capture the America's Cup depends upon one man more than any other, and that man has been less in the limelight than all the rest in the preparations for the international yacht races off Newport next month.
  7. ^ "Nicholson Praises Work of Amateur Crew After He Sails Twice on the Endeavour". New York Times. August 20, 1934. Retrieved 2010-12-14. Charles E. Nicholson, the one member of the afterguard of the America's Cup challenger Endeavour who has had experience in a previous international cup match, expressed delight today with the work of the amateurs in the English yacht's crew and a conviction that by the time the Endeavour meets the American defender to be selected they will be trained sufficiently to handle the big sloop to her fullest.

Further readingEdit