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Characteristics of a classic

23 May 2019 | Last update: 29 May 2019

Gemini is a Gauntlet, built in 1947, but the design dates from 1934, when the first of these famous yachts was built in the Berthon boatyard in Lymington, on the English south coast. In all, 39 Gauntlets were built by the yard between 1934 and 1951.

History of the first Gauntlet

The class got its name from the first boat. The customer asked the yard to design a boat, but when he saw the design, he rejected it, and went to a competing yard. Harry G. May, who owned the Berthon yard, had such faith in the design that he built the boat anyway, without having a customer for it. Once completed, he threw down the gauntlet and challenged the other boat to a race and handily won. The story got around and pretty soon, everyone wanted one of his Gauntlets.

Two further boats were built in New Zealand just after the war, but I don’t know the story behind that. Perhaps someone from the yard emigrated there and took copies of the design along with them.

The design brief was for a fast, seaworthy, comfortable boat, easily handled by a small crew. These boats were destined to be successful long-distance, ocean-going racing boats, and they had a lot of success in their day. Even now, when the sea is rough and the wind is strong, they can keep going at speed when modern, lighter boats will want to reduce sail.

Read on to find out how the design brief was fulfilled:

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