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David Philp aboard MISTRAL II in the late 1940s

David Philp

David Philp was a yacht designer in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Originally from Tasmania he practiced in Sydney NSW and designed a small number of classic styled yachts. His brother Colin also designed a few classic yachts in Tasmania.

David and Colin Philp were born in Hobart to Mr. J. E. Philp, of Lindisfarne, a Hobart shipping agent who was an authority on shipping and whaling in the early days of Tasmania and Mrs. Sarah Philp (formerly Miss Vera Robinson, of Triabunna). They were part of a family of six including two sisters ( later Mrs. J. H. Gould and Mrs. H. Scurrah) and brothers Murray and Stuart Philp. As a writer of more than ordinary ability, Mr. Philp wrote particularly of the early shipping of Hobart Town. An obituary for JE Philp, 18 June 1937 Hobart Mercury noted "He possessed a unique collection of records of shipping, dealing especially with shipbuilding, clipper ships, and whaling”, and it is in this environment that David and Colin Philp were raised.

David and Colin were originally architects of buildings, however neither formally studied Naval Architecture before emabrking on yacht design projects.

David moved from Tasmania to Sydney at an unknown date, but was rejected by the Navy and took a job with the NSW Government as a resident architect at Williamtown airbase for some years before opening an office in the late 1940s. He was listed as “David Philp, Naval Architect” at 107 Pitt Street, Sydney, designing small yachts and motor launches. All his work was meticulous and he had the respect of the boat builders who carried out his designs.

David took an active role in yachting. He was the official measurer of the Cruising Yacht Club for the 1946 Sydney- Hobart race and by that time had been engaged by Mr T. Guiffre, a Sydney manufacturer, to design and supervise the building of the racing cutter EOLO. The initial plans were for David to to skipper EOLO in the 1946 Sydney-Hobart Race, but it was not finished in time and instead David sailed as second mate on the John Alden-designed schooner MISTRAL II. The Hobart Mercury reported that "Mistral did not go well last year, but in this race will be packing on the canvas, and will have a hard-driving crew."

Colin Philp was building a large steel cruising yacht called SOUTHERN MAID in a vacant bloc beside his Sandy Bay, Hobart house and planned to enter the same race. It was launched just 17 days before the start and sailed the race with Jock Muir as one of the crew. Also in the racing fleet was their brother Murray who was a crew member in Hobart's MATTHEW FLINDERS.

EOLO was launched on 23 October 1947 from the Books brothers yard in Balmain, NSW. It was said at the time that “it is a general view that she has the best gear and fittings of any boat in Australia.” It is believed that EOLO was the first yacht built in Australia to have the seams splined instead of caulked. With David Philp at the helm, EOLO won line honours in the Cruising Yacht Club's Lion Island race that year, and was placed second on handicap . EOLO went on to place 7th in the 1947 Sydney-Hobart, with David at the helm and they beat Colin’s yacht SOUTHERN MAID by 19 minutes. Neither yacht was to compete in a Sydney-Hobart race again.

David Philp designed the ferry RADAR which was launched in 1947, added Yacht Brokerage to his firm's activities during 1948, advertising regularly in the Saturday edition of the Sydney Morning Herald until October 1949.

David and Colin and their families moved to Fiji in 1951 where David rebuilt a tourist hotel now called Pacific Harbour. David died in Fiji in 1969.

Yacht Designs:

David Philp is known to have designed:
BUNGOONA, 30ft Sloop, Launched February 1950.
SARINA, 35ft Sloop built 1950.
CRUISER, 37ft Raised-deck twin-engine harbour cruiser, built 1948
EOLO: 55 foot long cutter, 1947
Philp 30 class, advertised in Seacraft magazine.

Colin Philp designed the following yachts:
SOUTHERN MAID, 55ft welded steel cutter Launched Dec 1946,
LITTLE MAID,
A 35 foot long cruiser racer, name unknown, featured in Seacraft August 1951
TAU, a 90 foot steel and fibreglass ketch built for his son Tony Philp. Launched in Fiji in August 1972.


Text prepared from research by Cameron Dorrough