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George Owen (1877-1959) USA

Posted on July 17, 2014 by Admin in George Owen, Latest Classic Yacht News

George Owen was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but grew up in Rhode Island, after his mother died at an early age. Active in yachting the family owned yachts designed by Herreshoff and Burgess, and after high school Owen went on to MIT, where he received a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Upon graduating in 1894, Owen was employed as a draftsman at Pacific Textile Mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts. In 1898 Owen was employed in the drafting department of Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, of Bristol, Rhode Island, until 1901.

Owen married Florence Wood in 1901, and moved to Canada, where he took an engineering position with Hamilton Iron and Steel Company in Hamilton, Ontario. While he worked as a full-time engineer, Owen began his career as a yacht designer designing yachts for the Canadian yachting community. By Owens third design “Whirl” he had established himself as a successful yacht designer, winning 29 out of 30 races with “Whirl”

After Owens sixth design in Canada, he moved his family back to Massachusetts in 1904, and was employed as a yacht designer for the Fore River Shipyard. At the time yacht designers were experimenting with N. G. Herreshoff’s new Universal Rule yacht measurement formula. R-, Q-, P-, N-, and M-class yachts were designed, and by 1908 Owen decided to design yachts full-time. Between the years 1907 to 1913, Owen designed 24 yachts to the Universal Rule. In 1912 P-class “Mavoreen” set a course record in the Mackinac race that was unbeaten for 14 years; 1913 Q-class “Manataqua” champion of class at Marblehead, MA from 1913-1923 and first racing yacht with raised deck construction; and 1913 M-class “Dorello II”, winner of class in 1913.

M-class “Dorello”, was one of Owens most innovative a successful designs, he introduced a high aspect ratio stem head rig. Dorello’s rig was later adapted by Herreshoff on the NYYC 50s and NYYC 40s. In 1908, Yachting magazine voted “Dorello” Boat of the Year. And while at he helm of “Dorello” Owens won Winning 58 of 62 races.

After Owens disappointing J-Class yacht design “Defiance” in 1915, he took on an invitation to become an assistant professor of naval architecture at MIT, a position he would hold until retiring as a full professor in 1941. Training a generation of men including Philip L. Rhodes, Edson, A. Shock and Winthrop Warner, to name a few.

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