'The perfect boat'
Designed by: Charles Nicholson, reconfigured in 1996 by Gerard Dykstra
Build: Camper & Nicholsons in 1933
Identifying features: Dark blue hull; classic deck features including double doghouse; blue, white and red spinnaker.
Odds: A good light airs boat, bags of experience onboard, has been heavily campaigned for years
Skipper: Barney Henshaw-Depledge
Since being re-launched in the mid eighties and late nineties, Velsheda has been a torch-bearer for modern J Class racing. She was the first original J to be radically altered, including new deckhouses and a carbon rig. This led to the new ratings for modern Js, and whether purists agree with such modifications or not, to me she’s sparkled both at the America’s Cup Jubilee in 2001 and the multiple regattas on both sides of the Atlantic since.
Her dark blue hull, original aft cockpit and gleaming brightwork proudly marries original looks with modern J technology.
Velsheda was originally commissioned by Woolworths magnate W.L Stephenson. He scrapped his previous boat White Heather II to build Velsheda, recycling the keel and mast. The first J to be built all in steel, Velsheda was the only J not to be built to race for the America’s Cup. So although she competed handsomely in the British Big Class regattas and won her premiere season, we’ll never know how she would have fared as a challenger in the Cup.
C&N also built a 72ft support vessel called for Velsheda called Bystander in 1934, but she did not survive. Velsheda’s current Bystander is s 42m escort vessel from French yard JFA.
Velsheda was laid up in 1937 in the mud banks of the Hamble River, like Endeavour, until Henry Brabant found her. He restored her in 1984 enough to be cruised, chartered and raced occasionally. But it was when Dutchman Ronald de Waal purchased her in 1996, and had her fully rebuilt at Southampton Yacht Services (under the watch of Gerard Dykstra), including a new carbon fibre mast and inboard diesel engine installation for the first time, that she was reborn.
Velsheda has since raced tirelessly under the same custodian (who has proved a worthy helm), enjoying close battles with Endeavour and Ranger, particularly at their Antigua Classics meets.
A carbon rig, EC6 rigging, improved hydraulics and new sails. Her consistent crew work and overall regatta experience is often her trump card.
Specs: LOA 129ft 3in (39.4m)
LWL: 91ft 2in (27.79m)
Beam: 21ft 6in (6.55m)
Built in steel
Draught: 4.57 m
Manufacturer: Camper & Nicholson/Southampton Yacht Services