MY OTHER PASSION IS...
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
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.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE
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.
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!
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