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The death of naval architect Warwick
ended another significant link
with Australia’s early challenges for the
Hood died at Gosford, on the NSW
Central Coast, shortly before his 83rd
birthday, ending a significant career as a
naval architect and yacht designer, notably
as the designer of the 12-metre class yacht
Dame Pattie, Australia’s second challenger
for the America’s Cup in 1967.
He had been largely confined to a
wheelchair for the last five years of his
life following knee and hip problems,
although two years ago he visited the
Sydney Amateur Sailing Club to speak at
a lunch to celebrate the career of master
shipwright Billy Barnett, who built Dame
Pattie and recently turned 100.
Hood was also the designer, in 1966, of
the ubiquitous Hood 23, the 23-footer on
which generations of Australians stepped
into sailing keelboats.
Hundreds of Hood 23s still sail
Australian waterways, no longer as a class,
but some of them continuing to win in open
competition. He considered the Hood 23
one of his most influential designs.
“I think it introduced people to the idea
you could get a small, reasonably high-
performance sailing boat in a small size
that was properly built, properly designed,”
Hood once said.
The contrast in scale of these two
achievements are a measure of his
importance, and a measure of the man
who was made an Officer of the Order of
Australia (AO) in 1994 for his service to
Warwick Hood in the mid-1980s.
America’s Cup link broken with death of
Warwick Hood AO
the maritime industry as a naval architect.
Warwick Hood was born on 7 July, 1932
and grew up in Wentworthville, attending
Parramatta High School. He attempted
to run away to sea before he finished
school but his father suggested he study
naval architecture instead. Thus a career
Before designing Dame Pattie (named
after the wife of the then Australian Prime
Minister Sir Robert Menzies), War wick
Hood was an assistant to the late Alan
Payne, the designer of Gretel, Australia’s
first challenger for the America’s Cup,
The performance of Gretel against the
US defender Weatherly prompted the New
York Yacht Club to interpret the Cup rules
to forbid any future challenger from using
US test tank facilities, sail, sail cloth, masts
and rigging, and winches.
Thus, Hood was clearly at a
disadvantage when he designed Dame
Pattie in utilising design advances such as
the trim-tab rudder on the super efficient
US defender Intrepid. He also gambled too
heavily on it being a light weather series
off Newport, Rhode Island.
Dame Pattie failed to win a race, officially.
However, the challenge match included a
furore when Intrepid and Dame Pattie collided
shortly after the start of the second race.
Dame Pattie went on to cross the line first,
but was disqualified, in a controversial
decision, as a result of the collision.
A rather less known role played by
Warwick Hood was the assistance he
provided Sir Francis Chichester in 1966
when Gipsy Moth limped into Sydney in 1966
at the halfway point (and only stopover) of
what eventually became the fastest solo
circumnavigation of the world.
Hood reconfigured the keel and some
of the rigging of Gipsy Moth in order to
prevent the yacht from broaching and also
improve its directional stability.
Over this long career of 30 years and
more as a naval architect, Hood designed
a wide range of vessels, from paddle-
steamers (the Emmylou, still operating out
of Echuca on the Murray) to commercial
working and trading boats for clients in
South-East Asia and the Pacific, through
to stylish yachts and motor launches.
His son-in-law Adrian Read recalls
Warwick’s concern and distress as he
watched television coverage of the 2004
Boxing Day tsunami and saw boats he had
designed decades before being smashed
to pieces on Indonesian beaches.
Hood’s most recent design was the
Hood ML 28. A prototype of this 28ft motor
launch was built in Myanmar with a teak
cabin and decking on a fibreglass hull. It
was shown at the Sydney Boat Show but
never went into production.
“He was reading newspapers, novels,
poetry, philosophy, engineering, maths
to the end and was always sketching and
designing another boat. And enjoying a
lovely glass of wine and some great food
whenever we took him out,” his daughter
Alison said. “He was a great man, not only
professionally, but personally, and much
loved by all who came in touch with him.
He was fun to be around and we always
had lots of laughs.”
Warwick Hood is survived by his
partner Jennifer Dakers, his former wife
Julie Hood (Mazlin), daughters Carly and
Alison, four grandsons and a sister, Judy,
and brother, Peter. h
Dame Pattie 1967.
Hood 23 Hoodwinked.
WARWICK HOOD 1932-2015
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