'Maiden Season' Westward showing her paces off Cowes in the summer of 1910 signed 'J. Steven Dews' (lower left) oil on canvas 61 x 91.5cm (24 x 36in).
In this spectacular portrait of Westward by the modern master of the genre J. Steven Dews, the artist has depicted one of the most celebrated racing yachts of that golden era which preceded the First World War. In her maiden appearance at Cowes in the summer of 1910, the competition was somewhat muted following the death of King Edward VII that spring. However, that did not stop Westward impressing all who saw her and, in a brilliant start to her career, she won all of the eleven races in which she competed.
Westward, 331 tons (Thames) and measuring 116 feet in length, was built by the great Nat Herreshoff at Rhode Island in 1910 and was one of the largest racing schooners whose career fell into two very distinct phases. Like King George V's immortal Britannia, she too had royal connections having been purchased - at the Kaiser's instigation - by a syndicate of German businessmen who renamed her Hamburg. Under German colours, she enjoyed many successes prior to the outbreak of the Great War but was then sold out of German ownership after the Armistice; her new American owner Clarence Hatry restored her original name and his first season in 1920 almost equalled the triumphs of 1910. It was after her sale to T.B.F. Davis in 1924 however, that she finally came into her own when she became a regular challenger to Britannia. Over the years Davis and the King developed a spirited though very friendly rivalry and Westward became such a prized possession of Davis that he, like George V before him, also stipulated in his will that his boat too was to be sunk after his death.