Leith is home for yacht with royal blood

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IT WAS one of the most successful racing yachts ever built, sailing the world with the royal family at the helm.

Now the classic 1930s ocean racing yacht Bloodhound is heading for a new home at Leith, after being purchased by the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust.

The yacht is due to arrive in the Capital later this year, to form the centrepiece of a major new exhibit, and members of the trust are hopeful she will go on display from April.

Members of the public will not be allowed to set foot on the restored yacht, but will instead be able to admire her from a new pontoon, which is to be constructed next to Britannia.

An exhibition on the yacht's history will also be set up on the lower decks of Britannia, to give visitors an insight into its past.

Chairman of the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust, Rear Admiral Neil Rankin, said: "We are delighted to have acquired such an important piece of British yachting history and look forward to having Bloodhound alongside Britannia once more, for the public to see what a wonderful ocean racing yacht she is."

The Bloodhound was owned by the Queen and Prince Philip in the 1960s and was the boat upon which both Prince Charles and Princess Anne learned to sail.

Built in 1936 by the famous Camper and Nicholsons yard in Gosport, Bloodhound won scores of races in the south of England and also crossed the Atlantic to compete in Bermuda.

It was acquired by the royal family in 1962 and Prince Philip enjoyed success competing with her at the famous Cowes Week regatta around the Isle of Wight. That provided the boat's link with the Royal Yacht Britannia, which hosted both the royal family, dignitaries and other royalty during the sailing festival.

During royal ownership, Bloodhound would also accompany Britannia in the Western Isles when the Royal Family had their family holiday.

It was here that the young royals learned to sail on Bloodhound, and when not in royal use, the yacht was also crewed by a number of youth organisations.

In 1969, Bloodhound was sold by the royal family, and effectively retired from racing until the 1980s, when she once again competed until 2001.

Thereafter she fell into considerable disrepair and very nearly became beyond salvage. However, in 2003, she was purchased by Tony McGrail, a yacht surveyor and classic yacht restorer.

Over the next three-and-a-half years, she underwent a major refit to bring her back to her pristine original condition.

Mr McGrail said: "We are delighted that Bloodhound will be joining The Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh."

&#149 www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk