Nick Whale: Early suc­cess in mo­tor rac­ing and car sales helped fi­nance a se­ries of lux­ury mo­to­ry­achts be­fore the 2008 re­ces­sion forced a ma­jor re­think

Motorboat & Yachting - - CONTENTS -

Princess 56 owner Nick Whale shares his pas­sion for clas­sic mo­tor­sport

Mo­tor­sport has been a pas­sion of mine even longer than boats have. My fa­ther ran car deal­er­ships so petrol was in my blood from an early age. I started rac­ing Mi­nis when I was 17 and pro­gressed through the ranks to saloon car rac­ing. In 1989 I won the Bri­tish Pro­duc­tion Saloon Car Cham­pi­onship in a BMW M3, pro­vid­ing a route into the world of the Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship. They were heady times and I com­peted hard for three years be­fore sell­ing my race car and switch­ing to the Bri­tish GT Cham­pi­onship in a Porsche.

When I wasn’t rac­ing or work­ing in the fam­ily busi­ness, my es­cape from it all was boat­ing. My fa­ther was a Princess owner and when he died in 1990 I bought my own Princess 32 Riviera from a young bro­ker by the name of Nick Burn­ham (what­ever hap­pened to him – Ed?). As my ca­reer grew I up­graded to the first of the orig­i­nal Princess V39s in 1995, fol­lowed by a V52, the first V58, an early V70 and fi­nally a Princess 21M in 2007.

I’d started my own chain of fran­chised car deal­er­ships sev­eral years ear­lier, sell­ing Porsche, BMW/MINI and Fer­rari/maserati. Da­mon Hill was my part­ner in the BMW deal­er­ship and busi­ness was boom­ing. Then in 2008 the re­ces­sion hit,and we ran into cash flow prob­lems. It broke my heart but the boat had to go and a year later we sold the deal­er­ships too. They were tricky times and it was a re­al­ity check to go from run­ning a suc­cess­ful busi­ness and a 21m Princess with a cap­tain and a crew to a 27-ft Sea Ray! But the Sea Ray got me afloat again while I worked out what to do. The an­swer was star­ing me in the face all along – turn my hobby of col­lect­ing clas­sic cars into my ca­reer by set­ting up a spe­cial­ist auc­tion house for clas­sic cars and rac­ing au­to­mo­bilia. In 2011 I launched Sil­ver­stone Auc­tions with the in­au­gu­ral sale tak­ing place in the exhibition space above the F1 pits.

Since then the busi­ness has ex­panded into his­toric race cars and mod­ern su­per­cars to be­come the UK’S sec­ond big­gest clas­sic car auc­tion house. The com­pany’s suc­cess en­abled me to sell the Sea Ray and buy a Princess 52 fly­bridge in 2013 be­fore up­grad­ing to a Princess 56 in 2017. I’m also en­joy­ing be­ing back on the track again, rac­ing my old BMW M3 with my son at his­toric events.

The last decade has been quite a roller­coaster ride but even when we were re­duced from a 21m mo­to­ry­acht to a sec­ond­hand sports­boat my wife pointed out that we were still able to en­joy the same sea and the same sun. I think there’s a les­son in that for all of us: it’s not the size of the boat that matters but the plea­sure and op­por­tu­nity you get from it.


Af­ter a life­time of dream­ing about boats I am now the proud owner of a 2008 Jean­neau Pres­tige 32 Fly­bridge.

Grow­ing up in the sea­side town of South­port, Lan­cashire, boat­ing was not an ob­vi­ous child­hood pas­sion. How­ever, the tele­vi­sion se­ries Howards’ Way in which Jack Rolf and the team cre­ated spec­tac­u­lar boats and sailed them in the So­lent, in­spired me to give it a go.

From that point on I de­cided to be­come a boat builder, start­ing with teach­ing my­self to build fi­bre­glass ca­noes and 14ft speed­boats. Sadly, this ven­ture didn’t work out as barely any­body went boat­ing in Lan­cashire.

Re­fus­ing to give in, I loaded my Vauxhall Cava­lier with all my worldly goods and headed to the Southamp­ton Boat Show in 1987. I ended up talk­ing to a small boat builder in Lymington, and af­ter show­ing the boss photos of my work, he gave me a job there and then.

Roll on 30 years and I am now the Com­pos­ite Tech­ni­cal Man­ager for Sun­seeker. I spend as much time as pos­si­ble on my own boat. It’s my happy place, whether re­lax­ing in the marina or cruis­ing to the Isle of Wight.

If any other young­sters are wondering about a ca­reer in boats, go for it! You won’t re­gret it. Chris Wright, Com­pos­ites Tech­ni­cal Man­ager, Sun­seeker In­ter­na­tional What a lovely story. It just goes to show that if you are pas­sion­ate enough about any­thing in life you will find a way to make it work. I look for­ward to see­ing you out on the wa­ter in Poole. Mine’s the sil­ver-wrapped Kar­nic with a moody teenager in the nav­i­ga­tor’s seat! Hugo


I have been lucky enough to spend years boat­ing around the beau­ti­ful is­land of Mal­lorca and drop­ping the hook where and when I wanted to.

How­ever, this year, we were vis­ited by Span­ish of­fi­cials hand­ing out leaflets about Posi­do­nia Ocean­ica (com­monly known as sea­grass) and telling us our an­chor and chain (yes, chain!) must be po­si­tioned on sand.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for pre­serv­ing the sea’s ecosys­tem, and we take spe­cial care when drop­ping

and weigh­ing our an­chor. How­ever, I can’t help feel­ing slightly un­easy about how prac­ti­cal it will be to ap­ply this rule, given the mixed abil­ity of new­bies, rent-a-boaters and day trip­pers to an­chor in the first place. Many coves have a mix­ture of sea­grass and sand, so can you imag­ine ev­ery­one try­ing to hit the sand patch es­pe­cially on a sum­mer week­end when most coves are full to the brim with boats.

Kevin Fa­gan

I can see why that could cause is­sues but the prin­ci­ple seems sound, so long as they ap­ply the rules sym­pa­thet­i­cally through en­cour­ag­ing best prac­tice rather than hand­ing out fines. Hugo


Phil Samp­son’s let­ter about find­ing that the shackle se­cur­ing his an­chor chain to the hull fix­ing was badly cor­roded cer­tainly makes the case for reg­u­lar checks on vi­tal pieces of kit that are of­ten ig­nored but re­plac­ing it with a new shackle may not be the best an­swer.

Let’s as­sume that you are se­curely held by your an­chor when the weather re­quires an im­me­di­ate de­par­ture. The winch stalls and even the use of power does noth­ing to budge the an­chor, you have to sac­ri­fice it to save the boat. You let out the chain, plan­ning to at­tach a rope tail and fender for re­trieval later.

You can guess what hap­pens next; the shackle is seized solid, there’s no time for WD40 or saw­ing through it with a hack­saw. The an­swer is to se­cure the chain to the U-bolt with rope or mul­ti­ple loops of twine and make sure you have a sharp knife handy. Terry Crump­ton I wit­nessed this last month when the skip­per of a boat we were snor­kel­ing off had to aban­don his an­chor by cut­ting the rope and re­triev­ing it later. Hugo


Tut tut, Hugo: sug­gest­ing last month that a reader’s wife would only carry

MBY in her suit­case to press her clothes! We ladies oc­ca­sion­ally stop re­clin­ing on sun pads and gaz­ing ador­ingly at helm­ing men to take an ac­tive in­ter­est in boat­ing.

Here’s an al­ter­na­tive tip from a young fe­male reader: per­haps we could en­ter the 21st cen­tury and ac­cept that women, can en­joy mo­tor boats too – both read­ing about them and tak­ing ac­tive roles as skip­per and crew!

Eleanor Mars­den-wal­ters

I’m sure you ap­pre­ci­ate it was a tonguein-cheek re­sponse to a tongue-in-cheek let­ter about the weight of the lat­est MBY is­sue. I’m al­ways de­lighted to hear from our fe­male read­ers as the num­ber of women who write about their boat­ing ad­ven­tures in MBY now tes­ti­fies. Hugo

ABOVE The suc­cess of Nick’s car auc­tion com­pany helped fund the pur­chase of his Princess 56 (above), but it hasn’t all been plain sail­ing L E F T Nick now races his for­mer cham­pi­onship-win­ning BMW M3 with his son at clas­sic events

P IC OF THE MONTH Dy­lan Fletcher took this pho­to­graph in New­town Creek while hol­i­day­ing on his par­ents’ old Sun­seeker Portofino 31. Top marks for keep­ing the wind­screen as clean as his cam­era lens!

Drop­ping an­chor has be­come an eco­log­i­cal mine­field in cer­tain ar­eas of the Med

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