Slashing along - The Sceptre signed 'Montague Dawson (lower left) oil on canvas 61 x 91.5cm (24 x 36in).
PROVENANCE: with E. Stacy-Marks Private collection, UK
LITERATURE: L. G. G. Ramsey, Montague Dawson, R.S.M.A., F.R.S.A. (second edition, Leigh-on-Sea, 1970), p.31, no. 94, plate 25, for what appears to be Dawson's only other portrait of Sceptre.
Even though the second yacht in this sparkling work by Montague Dawson is too distant to be identified, it is virtually certain that Sceptre's running mate is Evaine and that this composition shows the two boats sparring together off the south coast of England in the summer of 1958. That year witnessed the dawning of a new era for the world's greatest yachting prize when, on 20th September, the first America's Cup Race for twenty-one years was staged on the hallowed course off the eastern seaboard of the United States. The Second World War and its aftermath had intervened since the last series in 1937 and British yachting was at a desperately low ebb in the post-War years until rejuvenated by Hugh Goodson's formation of a syndicate with which to mount a serious challenge for the trophy in the mid-1950s. The largest extant thoroughbred racers at the time were the 12-metres but, in the absence of a suitable candidate, as most of the '12's' had been converted for cruising, the order to build a new boat designed by David Boyd and christened Sceptre was placed with Alexander Robertson & Sons at Sandbank, Argyllshire. Registered at 24.52 tons gross & net (35 Thames), she measured 69 feet in length with a 12 foot beam and was rigged as a sloop. When completed however, Sceptre needed a trial horse to put her through her paces and the pre-War Evaine was selected for the job. Evaine, an ageing 12-metre survivor designed and built by Camper & Nicholson at Gosport in 1936 but laid-up since 1939, had recently been purchased and refitted by Owen Aisher, one of the most prominent yachtsmen of the day. With Aisher himself at her helm, Evaine proved an excellent foil for the new Sceptre and, in fact, beat her in a number of their early matches during that summer of 1958. Eventually Sceptre got the measure of Evaine.
The larger portrait of Sceptre and Evaine by Montague Dawson (30 x 50ins.) noted above is a quite different composition in which both yachts are clearly identifiable.