The Lymington Racing Cruisers or W Boats were designed in 1924 by H. Jacobs and H.G. May of the Berthon Boat Company in Lymington as one-design cruiser racers. The Company sales brochure describes them as being ‘…a good all-round boat suitable for both racing and cruising’. The first batch of five boats were built for members of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. During the 1920’s these boats raced together as the West Solent One-Design Class, all the Solent Clubs being said to give races for them, and in 1927 there were fourteen boats racing in the Solent. Burnham Yacht Club also adopted the class and at one time had eight boats which were known as the Burnham Restricted One-Design Class. In 1925 five boats were built and shipped to Argentina for the Yacht Club Argentine.
The first West Solent bearing the name DILKUSHA and sail number W7 was built by Berthons in 1924 and originally named CALYPSO (Build No 209). The Berthon build sheets do not say who she was built for but sometime prior to August 1930 she was acquired by Lieutenant Colonel the Hon Henry C Guest and her named changed to DILKUSHA. Colonel Guest was the son of the 1st Lord Wimborne. He fought in both the Boer War and the First World War and also served in India. This may explain the name which means ‘happy heart’ or something similar in Hindi. It was also the name of a palace near Lucknow that served as a hunting lodge for British officers. During his career Colonel Guest was MP for East Dorset, Pembroke and Haverfordwest , Bristol north and Plymouth Drake. He was a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron between 1927 and 1957 and Rear Commodore of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. He owned other boats including a 34 ton cutter and a 28 ton auxiliary sloop.
Colonel Guest had a new West Solent built by Berthon Boat Company in 1931 (Build No 413). She was again named DILKUSHA and took the sail number W7 of the first boat (Build No 209). What became of this original boat (CALYPSO ex DILKUSHA) is not known but it is the second boat (Build No 413) that is the subject of the registration with the National Register and this history. It is understood that Colonel Guest raced the ‘two’ DILKUSHAs very successfully in the Solent over a number of years. He had a professional skipper, Jim Croutier, who lived at Pitts Deep, a small harbour east of Lymington. Racing was Regatta based. In the summer of 1939 DILKUSHA entered nineteen races in the Solent including Lymington and Cowes Town Regattas taking second places in races organised by the Royal Lymington Yacht Club and the Royal Southern Yacht Club. DILKUSHA spent the Second World War in a shed at the top of the river in Lymington returning to the water in 1946.
The ownership of DILKUSHA was retained by Colonel Guest until at least 1948 but certainly by 1951 she had been acquired by Roy Exton, who is said to have been the commander of a destroyer in the Second World War. He was a member the Blackpool and Fleetwood Yacht Club but the likelihood is that he took her to Sunderland as he had been based in the North East during the war. By 1952 she was in the ownership of Charles Brightman and sailing from Sunderland Yacht Club where she remained in two ownerships. The shields on the trophies in the trophy cabinet of the Club bear testimony to DILKUSHA’s racing success at this time winning the Sir Hedgeworth Williamson trophy in 1953. In 1957 a Stuart Turner engine was fitted and DILKUSHA passed into the ownership of George and James Sinclair, also members of Sunderland Yacht Club.
Sometime prior to 1960 DILKUSHA was purchased by Antony Sabin who was in the Coldstream Guards and a member of the Household Brigade Yacht Club and the Royal Cruising Club. He sailed her down the East Coast from Sunderland to Boulogne and back to the Hamble and raced at Cowes week in 1959. In 1961 he cruised across to Cork and South West Ireland and back to the Hamble where she was probably based.
By 1968 DILKUSHA had been acquired by James Shanahan, a member of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Burnham. She was seen by a Burnham man, Nick Phillips, apparently in disuse, and he bought her from James Shanahan in May 1977. He carried out some repairs including stripping and repainting the hull. He also removed the Stuart Turner engine. During his ownership she was mostly moored off the south side of Osea Island in the River Blackwater in Essex. Nick Phillips did one trip to Holland returning via Belgium and France but otherwise raced her in local Regattas. DILKUSHA remained in his ownership until December 1997 making Nick Phillips the owner for the longest period. She was purchased by Roderick Kalberer and Kevin Fuller, officers of the W Boat Association, with the aim of keeping her on the Blackwater River where several West Solents were based. During their ownership she was not used and kept on a mud berth on the west side of Colliers Reach on the Blackwater River.
A local buyer was not found and in March 2002 she was purchased and taken to Cornwall where she was restored in two yards between then and 2005. A Yanmar engine was installed. She was displayed at the London Boat Show in January 2004 and subsequently attended regattas as far afield as the South of France and the West of Scotland and has been a regular entrant at Falmouth Week Regatta. In 2010 she won the Queen Victoria Cup in the Cumberland Regatta organised by the Royal Thames Sailing Club.
In November 2012 she changed hands again and has been registered as British Ship in the Port of Cowes under Part I of the Register with Official Number 918885. For the foreseeable future she will remain based in Falmouth.
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