The interruption by war left the many questions raised about America’s apparent superiority in abeyance and it was not until 1860 that a new
British schooner, the Aline, appeared to offer an innovative design solution. Aline’s designer and builder was Ben Nicholson, who had joined Camper’s yard as a shipwright apprentice in 1842.
Thanks to a combination of skill and the lack of a clear male heir within the Camper family, Nicholson had risen to become the senior employee. Aline’s incredible racing success prompted
Nicholson’s further promotion and facilitated his choice as Camper’s replacement when the latter sought to retire in 1863. Financed by both Camper and the Lapthorn family, who operated the
sail loft adjacent to the yard, Nicholson not only took over Camper’s business but also undertook a 30-year programme of expansion. I tonnage terms, the design and construction of large schooners
dominated the firm’s output, and to this staple Nicholson added an extensive refit and maintenance business which was made possible by the near constant expansion of the yard’s