Search pages:
Search images:
Find a page:
Find a page:
George Griffin
George Griffin
George Griffin on Ariel

Other NameGeorge Gorilla Griffin
GenderMale
StatusDeceased
NationalityAustralia
Current City/HometownSydney
ClubMiddle Harbour Yacht Club
Boat Owner ofJulnar
Boats Sailed OnAriel

George Griffin


George Griffin was the true founder of the Middle Harbour Yacht Club in 1939. Races were run out of the Griffin Boatshed at the Spit. George Griffin was the starter, positioned at the end of the boatshed veranda. He would start the race, run down to his own boat, and chase the rest of the fleet. He often won!

Because many of the boats racing regularly did not have spinnakers, it was decided that races would be sailed under 'cruising conditions' with no extras, only working sails. This rule led to some heated arguments as to what constituted an 'extra'. At the time, genoa jibs were cut fuller than they now are, and they were not carried to windward: they therefore were not considered to be part of a working rig.

George Griffin insisted that any sail which could be carried all around a course and on any point of sailing must be considered a 'working sail'. But Wally Ward, who designed and built Janaway, argued that any sail sheeted abaft the mast should be considered as an 'extra'. When a Tumlaren-designed vessel joined the fleet there were further complications. Its rig carried a foresail which set inboard from the bow and sheeted well abaft the mast.

He was the first yachtsman on the Harbour to race with a genoa, causing an uproar amongst other skippers.

George Griffin was an amazing man. He was prodigiously strong and agile and, although he had no formal training, had designed and built many fine vessels, including Sea Gypsy, Valiant and Titania - all magnificant, sturdy vessels. Some of his boats are still around today, and under MSB survey for charter. George's last design was a 32-foot boat called Ariel. She included design features way ahead of her time, for instance she carried a genoa as part of her Working rig, and sometimes set it from the masthead.


About

George Griffin conduction trials on Ariel
George Griffin conduction trials on Ariel
George Griffin and father on Ariel
George Griffin and father on Ariel

From MHYC: The First 60Years

Article by: Noel Hopkinson

Published: 1999

George Griffin

George Griffin had a gruff manner, and could sometimes even appear rude but, he had a big heart. He was a superb seaman and an outstanding racing skipper. He was extremely strong, and my crew, after witnessing several feats of incredible strength, respectfully referred to him as 'Gorilla'. on one occasion he was sailing Julnar solo when the mast broke. A comparatively new and inexperienced member of the club, Bill Henderson, sailing on Miranda, offered Griffin assistance. He curtly refused Bill's help and soon had the broken mast and mass of rigging under control.

On another occasion, again sailing the 5-ton Julnar on his own, George lost his footing and fell overboard, the yacht continuing on her way. Being agile as well as strong, he managed to grab the trailing mainsheet. There he was, body-planning behind Julnar until, with astonishing ease, he pulled himself hand-over-hand up the mainsheet onto the stern, and was immediately under control again!

Griffin was credited at that time with being a bit of a showman. One of his favourite feats at regattas was to climb up the backstay to the top of the mast and down the forestay on to the deck!

When Griffin was 55 years old, he was out racing Julnar in a MHYC race with his daughters, Joyce and Ruby. While Griffin was changing the headsail in a strong southerly and heavy seas, Julnar rounded the Dobroyd Point bombora buoy, known as the yachtsman's death-trap. The backstay fouled on the buoy off the reef, and the mast smashed into two pieces. Realising the danger of the bombora nearby, Griffin ran to the stern and fastened a line to the buoy. Even after two lines had snapped, and drenched by sea and spray, he and his daughters managed to hold the yacht fast to the buoy.

For nearly and hour, they battled to save the yacht until finally a ferry saw he in distress and signalled to the pilot steamer Captain Cook which was taking a pilot aboard another ship. When the Captain Cook arrived at the scene, Julnar was being lashed by rough seas and in danger of being swamped. Crew from the steamer had great difficulty getting a rope across to Griffin, but after three attempts they succeeded. He and his daughters were exhausted after their ordeal, but soon recovered after the pilot steamer towed the yacht to Watson's Bay.


He was also a first-class boat builder and, being a keen racing skipper as well, he was always experimenting with 'go-fast' ideas. He was the first yachtsman on Sydney Harbour to race with a genoa sail. His action at the time created an uproar from skippers who clamed it was a spinnaker. He was an exponent of lighter spars, and in fact broke three masts in one season in Julnar in his effort to reduce weight aloft.

George Griffin died at 58, one of the most colourful and respected members of the MHYC.




Boats Designed by George Griffin

Julnar

Eudoria II

Sea Gypsy

Valiant

Titania

Ariel

Some of George Griffin
Some of George Griffin's designs
Ariel MH2
Ariel MH2
MH14 and Julnar MH8
MH14 and Julnar MH8
Sea Gypsy
Sea Gypsy
Flying Cloud MH1Valiant
Valiant
Page output 0.03181