Thankyou Malcolm Eggins, designer and builder of sophisticated racing dinghies

I just heard indirectly that the great Malcolm Eggins has died after a long illness.  A designer and builder of astounding high performance boats in the days of wood construction.

Malcolm Eggins - designer and builder of Moths and NS14 sailing dinghies

Part of the letter from Darryl, his son;

G’day everyone,

Sadly my father Malcolm Eggins passed away yesterday in Grafton, he’d been sick for many years and fortunately in the end he went quickly without any suffering. The Australian sailing community has lost a well respected designer and builder of boats as well as a champion sailor. Please let any of your sailing friends know who may have known him.

Malcolm and Darryl along with Frank and Mark Bethwaite, the Downes brothers, Vic Hammond, Michael Nash and many, many others were responsible for the development of the NS14 class sailboat in Australia.  Malcolm was mostly based around Grafton in Rural NSW – this may have allowed him to work more independently under less influence from the mainstream.

Many of the innovations that have been passed on to form part of the appearance of modern racing yachts and dinghies were developed through the 1960s and 70s in classes like the NS14.

Malcolm and Darryl Brown winning the NS14 state championships in 1970/71. YES … that is a photo from 45 years ago- note the rotating timber mast and general lack of fuss in the water around the boat.

NS14 history Darryl and Malcolm Eggins win 71/72 titles on St Georges basin

The NS14 is  a peculiar boat in Australia where restricted classes (where you can alter the hull shape and sail configuration) often have unlimited sail area.  The NS14 has quite a small sail area for two adults of 100 square feet (9.3 sq m) so instead of development focussing on getting more power the main focus has been reducing drag.

This was very important in the development of my own thinking about boat design, though at that time I was a sailor putting countless drawings onto every piece of paper that passed my way.

Malcolm and his son Darryl were on the forefront of many of these developments and were the first to build an NS14 with a self draining cockpit, which was promptly banned.  It ended up being a common feature the following year in many new boats.

They had big input into hull shape development influencing other designers in the cut and thrust of weekly and national racing.  One story I heard from Darryl is that he would push his dad to be more radical and Malcolm would push back – so they produced boats somewhere in the middle of their respective ideas.  They were part of the development of the class over a very long period from the late 60s to the late 1980s.

The last boat they built together was Tornado

Tornado - composite NS14 by Malcolm Eggins - composite hull, inlaid plywood deck

In later years Darryl sailed their boats with crew Andrew Landenburger – I’ve been corrected … it is the other regular crewman Andrew Forman!  (Sorry both Andrews!)

Darryl Eggins and Andrew Landenburger racing NS14 composite hull with decorative plywood decks - also a very fast boat by Darryl and Malcolm Eggins

Malcolm also had a long line of building Moth dinghies before they sprouted any wings apart from rudder, centreboard and sails 🙂  They were like furniture.

eggins moth 2763i22_20

Wood is a main interest of mine and though the Eggins’ moved to composite hulls (built in their shed at home to weights of around 8lbs a foot) the boats were also known for their fine woodwork as you can see from the photos here of the Moth and their last NS14 plus they spent many years innovating in wood.

Also Malcolm developed some of the early Australian Skiff Moths.

skiff moth eggins

Malcolm served many years in various positions at the Clarence River Sailing Club – a man who really put the time in to make a big contribution.

Thankyou Malcolm!

More information about early Eggins sailing adventures from Darryl’s blog

(thankyou Darryl Eggins for corrections)

A couple more tributes have shown up

There is a nice Quote on Improper Course to show what the level of boat development was like …
Malcolm’s boat was memorable for two reasons:

it was the most beautiful woodwork that I had ever seen, and it was the first boat to plane upwind in the conditions at Jervius Bay that weekend. Remember – 1972, no trapeze, just 100 square feet of sail, and planing upwind! Malcolm won in a really competitive fleet on pure boatspeed – it was a pleasure to watch.

From the NS14 forum –

From his home club – where you see his extraordinary willingness to be involved in all aspects of the club and community –

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