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Warwick J Hood

Warwick John Hood was a naval architect from the early 1950s through to the first decade of 2000, who was involved in a variety of projects during his career. In 2012 he is retired and lives at Woy Woy, North of Sydney, NSW. He was born in Westmead in July 1932, and shortly after the family moved to Wentworthville. He attended the local public school and was then selected to attend Parramatta High School. He became interested in sailing on a family holiday to Pearl Beach in NSW’s Central Coast. Hood built his first boat, a wooden VJ class in the back yard of his Wentworthville home and began racing it when he was thirteen years old.

He left school and began working on Cockatoo Island as an apprentice ships draughtsman in the Cockatoo Dockyard drawing office and enrolled in the naval architecture diploma course at Sydney Technical College. The dockyard projects were naval and commercial vessels, including HMAS TOBRUK and two of the Daring Class destroyers. There he met and worked with naval architect Alan Payne who had come back to Cockatoo in 1954. After hours they collaborated on the drawings for the Payne Mortlock sailing canoe which was very popular in Sydney.

In 1955 he went across to Garden Island and worked in the Naval Dockyard as a draughtsman. He left the drawing office at Garden Island in 1956 and went to work with Payne in his rejuvinated private practise. He began by assisting with the plans for SOLO, a steel cruising and racing yacht. He then worked closely with Payne on the first Australian America’s Cup challenger the International 12 metre GRETEL. He also worked on other projects at the office, and his design and drafting work were a major part of the plans for the Tasman Seabird and Koonya class. While Payne was in Newport for the series in 1962, Hood managed the office in Sydney.

In mid-1963 Payne gradually closed down his office and went to work for de Havilland's marine division. Hood left in June 1963 and set up his own office in July, Warwick J Hood Naval Architect, intending to work in the commercial field. His first design was an aluminium catamaran, followed by an aluminium ocean racing yacht YAMPYL, and then came the 12 metre project. The business operated for over 40 years.

In 1995 Hood was awarded an AO in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for servicesto the maritime industry as a naval architect.

Hood is widely known as the designer of the 1967 America’s Cup challenger DAME PATTIE, an international 12 metre class racing yacht. In 1963 he was chosen by Otto Meik from Melbourne to design a 12 metre for the 1967 series. After observing the 1964 series Meik pulled out but another syndicate headed by Emile Christensen took up the challenge and continued with Hood as the designer. Amongst his team of naval architects and draughtsman was Alf Lean, a shipwright from Cockatoo Island who was a talented draughtsman with a particular gift of being able to quickly create lines drawings that were fair and held the correct displacement. He was also a superb model maker, and had been an integral part of Payne’s team for GRETEL. Hood had an extensive office at this time, including naval architect Jan Faustmann.

A number of models were tested at the Sydney University test tank, and the final one was numbered 7/5, the seventh lines plan with the fifth revision. Detailed drawings were done for all the fittings and spars, the sail cloth was made locally, and the entire project was Australian designed, tested and built. It was the only Australian America’s Cup yacht to be designed and built entirely in Australia.

The yacht was superbly built by shipwright WH ‘Billy’ Barnett and his employees at his shed in Blues Point, North Sydney. Hood recalls that as a team they met every deadline they had set, a remarkable feat for such a complex, custom designed project, and it was launched on schedule.

The yacht was built bow down the slipway to facilitate fitting the lead keel. This was cast elsewhere, and then brought in by barge. The raked top edge with its low point at the aft end of the keel was easily moved into position as the yacht was facing in the right direction for the casting as it was slid up into the shed. It was however considered bad luck to launch a boat down a slipway bow first.

The eventual launching was done by the floating crane known as the ‘sheerlegs’ which was widely used around the harbour. The yacht was slid out of the shed then lifted into the harbour by the crane in an unofficial first launching. Faustmann recalls the event being celebrated by the builders and a design team with an impressive seafood feast. The official christening happened soon after at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in September 1966 when the wife of the Prime Minister, Dame Pattie Menzies named the yacht DAME PATTIE.

Trials and crew training began almost as soon as it was launched, but it suffered a setback early on when a fitting failed and the mast was broken. Later in 1966 races began against GRETEL which had been extensively modified by Alan Payne in consultation with Trygve Halvorsen. DAME PATTIE proved to be superior throughout the trials and went to the USA in mid-1967. Hood recall when they came to measure it to be classed as a 12 metre, two small discrepancies snuck through the very rigid and accurate process. The beam measurement was ‘padded out’ by judicious use of a small number of Sydney Morning Herald sheets put over the sides to protect the finish, their combined thickness brought the beam out to the required figure. The draft was measured around the middle of the yacht but no one picked up that the deepest point was right aft, and it was 2 inches or 50 mm over the maximum allowed. No changes were made and the yacht was subsequently measured again in the USA for the series, without these details being noted.

During the trials they added a bustle to the aft end of the under body, essentially it was a re-shaping of the hull to make it fuller aft, something the US boats were also experimenting with. After DAME PATTIE was launched Hood had conducted more tank tests with added bustle on the models, looking at the waterflow off the aft end of the boat around the waterline. The tests showed such a change would benefit the yacht, so it was taken out of the water and the additional shape added on over the original hul, and rudder was modified as well. Whilst Hood considered it just an added on fairing, Lloyds surveyors who approved the construction of the 12 metres wanted it built to the same heavy scantlings as the hull, and the syndicate had to follow their directions. The bustle worked and remained on the boat throughout its racing.

As the yacht was being towed into Newport Rhode Island, Hood was waiting onshore with New York Yacht Club representative Henry Morgan, who said to him “if there is anything you want, just come to me first”. The Americans were true to their word and helped out when asked, in particular when the syndicate requested access to a sail loft to make a new mainsail. They were allowed to use Hood Sails in Marble Head, who were making sails for the defending yachts. When the sail was completed, Ted Hood said it was the best sail he had seen that summer; however it was not used in the series as the skipper Jock Sturrock felt it was too heavy and opted for a lighter mainsail.

DAME PATTIE sailed against INTREPID in the series, and was beaten four–nil. The races were held in stronger winds for the most part, and this was a disadvantage to DAME PATTIE. Hood had undertaken a detailed study of the weather which showed the typical pattern favoured lighter winds, and had therefore optimised DAME PATTIE’s proportions to suit those conditions, it was at its best in 12 knots or less breeze. INTREPID was better suited to the stronger winds. It also had a bustle aft, but the designers Sparkman and Stephens had gone further by separating the rudder from the keel, adding a trim tab on the aft end of the keel and putting the small rudder aft faired into the bustle. This was a quite new for the class, and with other refinements to its layout and superior sails, INTREPID was the faster boat.

Hood felt that DAME PATTIE should have been able to win the second race which was held in the lightest of the conditions, on the first windward work it had sailed from behind to catch INTREPID, forcing them to tack away, but the advantage was then lost when DAME PATTIE messed up its covering tack, stalling the yacht head to wind. Other race descriptions suggest something of this nature happened on more than one occasion, and overall it is clear the INTREPID was faster and better sailed by its crew.

It was a frustrating series for Hood, who felt that the potential had not been realised, and that the designers, builders and crew put in a tremendous amount of work which went unrecognised while the financial supporters soaked up the glow while things were progressing well, and that it seemed like it was more of a public relations exercise for them than the actual contest it was for those involved.

Hood moved on from the America’s Cup with further yacht designs, but had already ventured into production craft with the Hood Boat company in 1966, which built the first Australian designed fibreglass production yachts. Three models were made, the 20, 23 and 27, reflecting their length in feet. They were multi-chine, raised deck craft. The classes were popular and raced in various states, many are still sailing in 2012. The costs of production were high, and eventually Hoods co- investors and shareholders sold the company and he lost any connection to their future construction. Whilst this was also a disappointment, other yacht designs fared much better.

In 1964/65 Sir Francis Chichester completed a solo circumnavigation of the world, with just one stop, in Sydney. His yacht GYPSY MOTH IV leaked badly, had proved difficult to steer and was tender, and Hood and Payne were consulted by Chichester on possible changes that could be made. Payne and Hood remarked how poor some of the original proportions were and how unsuitable the yacht was for the voyage. They both went for a test sail that confirmed their belief that it needed serious changes. Hood then drew up and supervised the modifications and repairs that made the yacht much better suited for the second half of the trip.

YAMPYL was the first aluminium yacht to be built in Australia, it was built in 1964 in South Australia for Jim Polson, and sent by road to just make the start of the 1964 Sydney to Hobart race. The following year it performed well and came third in Division 2. It was a masthead sloop, and Hood designed it before taking on the DAME PATTIE project. He called the design a squashed up 12 metre. It had a spade rudder, tanks in the keel and no concessions to comfort. Hood created a shape that was easy to plate and carefully drew out the welding sequence to minimise distortion during the welding. This was a huge success, and only about 2 kgs of filler were needed for fairing,

MARY BLAIR was another aluminium racing yacht, remembered for its bright yellow hull colour that matched owner Peter Riddle’s Porsche, but also a successful project, now sailing as cruising yacht. NORN was a traditional timber craft, designed for Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron commodore Lex (Sir Alexis) Albert in the late 1960s, and superbly built by the Alberts shipwright Ron Balkwell at Careening Cove , Sydney. It is still sailing, now known as NINA, and is well recognised on the Harbour. On Lake Macquarie, STYX was a light displacement wooden yacht designed by Hood which dominated races for many years on the central coast.

The MV JOHN BURKE, and sister ships MV DUNDAS and MV PERA were designed by Hood to operate around the northern coastline in the late 1960s. This project helped Hood reinvigorate his business after the time spent on DAME PATTIE.. They were shallow, wide craft, around 2000 tonnes displacement and able to operate close to shore, and were each mother ships to a pair of landing barges. These barges then went across bars and up estuaries and rivers helping deliver machinery for Dillingham Corporations rutile mining operations, picking up other cargo and taking supplies to the communities and workers in the area.

JOHN BURKE was built in SA, the others by NQEA in Queensland. JOHN BURKE was later converted to a prawn processing vessel, again a mother ship to the smaller vessels that took the catch. It was last heard of carrying pipes in Japan.

Gordon Barton who managed IPEC freight services obtained support for a project to use fast ships to carry bulk freight across Bass Strait in competition with planes. It was an innovative plan, based around fast, narrow ships with basic manning, and involved coordination of the vehicles, containers and handling at both ends to make the operation economic. Hood developed the design of the vessels and worked on the manning requirements.

The ships design was tested in Delft, Netherlands. Extensive deep water wave and weather data was collected through the Bureau of Meteorology to determine the environment for the crossing from Westernport to Devonport or Burnie. It showed an obvious need for the fast craft to be able to operate running down swells and not broaching. The Dutch were impressed by the data collected, and Hood’s design that was narrow and not too broad at the stern which would have induced broaching. They were able to replicate the waves in their test tank and ensure the design was not going to broach. It was designed to operate at 24 knots, and the shape of the vessel was like a fast patrol boat, quite different from a normal cargo ship.

The plan was for a pair to operate in tandem crossing over mid strait, and Hood worked out a manning arrangement of only five crew; three deck officers and two engineers, all with watch certificates so that the bridge was constantly manned by qualified crew.

The Tasmanian Government withdrew their funding support when the design had been completed, there were disputes by the wharfies in Tasmania, and without the Government support other backers would not proceed, so the project was abandoned.

In the 1980s he designed a new paddle steamer for the Murray River, as a tourist cruising boat. It was steel hull and wooden superstructure, He had to look at the typical shapes and also find early references on paddle design. An original engine and boiler were located to use on the vessel which was owned by Antony Browell. It was called EMMY LOU (after the country and western singer Emmy Lou Harris. They made a trial vessel out of oil drums to test their paddle designs and ran it on Snails Bay NSW.

EMMY LOU was based at Echuca, it has a 1908 Marshall and Sons engine restored at Barham on the Murray. Two others were built that were very similar, CUMBEROONA for Albury, and DECOY for the Swan River, WA.

Their structure was built and surveyed to ABS rules for steam engines and structure as they had appropriate rules for their river steamers, and none existed here. Bill Porritt the ABS Australian representative had a 1st Class ticket for steam engines. The paddle shaft and other items were proportioned of the design of the crankshaft which was tested for its qualities, and then other times related back to it.

Hood prepared a number of transport plans for developing countries largely in association with the World Bank. The first one was for Guyana in South America, but he also prepared plans for Indonesia,Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, the Phillipines, th Solomon Islands and other Pacific nations. Gavin McDonald from the World Bank was instrumental in supporting this work. The reports included advice on appropriate vessel designs, some detailed vessel design as well as the infrastructure needed and other relevant areas.

His principal address was Alexander St in Crows Nest Sydney. Employees included: Jan Faustmann, Alf Lean, Don McGeechie, Peter Gosher, Tony Hearder, Glen Davis, Hoods brother and father, various draftsmen and a secretary.