The superyacht industry has paid tribute to lifelong owner Sir Donald Gosling, who died aged 90 on Monday, September 16.
Nicholas Edmiston, chairman of Edmiston & Company, paid tribute to “Sir Don”, describing him as a “generous and true friend to so many.”
“Above all he was a yachtsman in the finest tradition,” he added.
Chief executive of Lürssen Yachts, Peter Lürssen, described Sir Donald as “a true yachting gentleman with an extraordinary presence.”
A Second World War veteran, Sir Donald served briefly in the Royal Navy before beginning his yachting career. With the help of a few savings, he purchased his first “yacht”: a three metre clinker-built boat with an inboard engine, which he kept on the Thames. Numerous yachts followed, including Elizabeth Gertrude in 1953, a series of yachts named Brave Goose, the 48.8 metre Katalina, 49.25 metre Edenforth and lastly the 75 metre Leander G, which he owned for 22 years until 2016.
Broker Peter Insull, who first met Sir Donald in 1986 and assisted his purchases of Katalina, Edenforth and Leander G said Sir Donald “walked with kings and vagabonds”.
“It was one of the wonderful things about him,” he added. “He was totally classless in that way.”
Chief executive of Burgess, Jonathan Beckett, said Sir Donald was “personable and polite to the nth degree.”
“Sir Don was a very fine gentleman – a real yachtsman – polite and courteous to a “T” – and a true ambassador and statesman for the superyacht industry,” he said.
He recalled the care with which Sir Donald looked after his yachts, remembering how his final yacht Leander G “was run to the very highest of yachting protocol and standards that are not easy to find today.”
Sir Donald’s work saw him serve the White Ensign Association for over 40 years, including a stint as president. He had previously served in the Royal Navy for two years but was a victim of post-war cuts.
“He was effectively made redundant but his heart stayed with the Royal Navy all his life,” Insull said.
Appointed Vice Admiral of the United Kingdom in 2012, Gosling also held a long association with charitable causes, particularly the Royal Navy. In 2012, he donated a “game-changing” £25 million donation to restore and preserve HMS Victory.
“Sir Don is the one person who has probably done more for the Royal Navy than any individual in the last 40 years,” Beckett said.
The Royal Navy itself has paid tribute to Sir Donald, tweeting that it had “lost one of its greatest supporters and benefactors with the passing of honorary Vice Admiral Sir Donald Gosling.”
Elsewhere, Sir Donald served as a trustee, vice patron and president of various other charitable trusts including the Greater London Fund for the Blind, The Labrador Rescue Trust, Chatham Historic Dockyard, The Hobson Charity and the Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation.
The London Blind Greater London Fund for the Blind added that it was “saddened to learn of the death of Sir Donald Gosling, a long serving supporter of the charity. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this time.”