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Sayonara 1897
Sayonara from Sailworld Sept 2009

ClubMiddle Harbour Yacht Club
Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club
LOA17.67m, 58f
Beam3.2m, 10.5f
Year Build1897 (age 125)
Owner (s)Alfred Gollins
George Garrard
George Griffin
Designer (s)William Fife Jnr
Builder(s)Alex McFarlane of Birkenhead


Pittwater Life February 2014

This excellent hand-tinted photo shows arguably the most famous classic keel yacht in Australia, Sayonara, tacking towards Towler's Bay.

She was racing in the Pittwater Regatta in December 1938 with her owner George Griffin at the helm and his two teenage daughters as crew.

Roy 'Snow' Pearson (a friend of George and a custom's officer on Sydney Harbour), author Surtees Rothesy and Harry Pfeiffer made up the complement.

Sayonara was built as a fast cruising yawl in 1897 for the then Commodore of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, George Garrard.

He commissioned master boat builder, Alex McFarlane of Birkenhead, Adelaide for the job and had his new yacht built to a design of Scottish naval architect, William Fife jnr.

She was 58 feet long (on deck) with a beam of 10'6" and carried an extensive suit of English sails made by Ratsey and Lapthorne.

After launching in November of the same year, she was sailed around to her owner in Melbourne and soon proved to be unbeatable on Port Phillip Bay.

She was sailed to Sydney in January 1904 where she won two of three races taking the solid silver cup worth 100 guineas (AUD $20,000 today approx.) which her then owner Alfred Gollins had put up as a challenge.

The cup then became known as the Sayonara Cup and was hotly contested until 1962 as the premier interstate racing trophy for big yachts.

The Cup was described as the Australian equivalent of the America's Cup.

Sayonara went through several hands after having her racing rig converted to a cutter, increasing her sail area by 300 square feet.

The yacht was sold to a Sydney owner in 1912 and spent most of her life here under different owners (including Griffin), until bought by a Melbourne syndicate just prior to 2000.

Sayonara was then in a sorry state, having sunk temporarily, but Col Anderson (head of the syndicate) with Doug Shields saw the possibilities.

The syndicate appointed D&A Traditional Boat Restorations with David Golding as head shipwright, to tackle the huge job.

The result was out-standing with no expense spared and the salvation and future of an Australian yachting icon was assured.

At the tender age of 116 years she took out line honours in the 'Central Geelong' Classic boat race in March 2013 as part of the Wooden Boat Festival of Geelong.

TIMES PAST is supplied by local historian and President of the Avalon Beach Historical Society GEOFF SEARL

Royal Freshwater Bay Club Tidings March 1991

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