Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Morgan Giles 43

Cycling through Chichester Marina I couldn't help notice this stand out boat. With no name visible to help identify it I had assumed it is a Morgan Giles 43, cruiser/racers designed and built by Morgan Giles of Teignmouth at the end of the 1950's for the UK Joint Services.

Some research shows that work is under way on not one but three of these yachts Gryphis, Leopard and Petrel all of which have been bought by a single owner with the intention of forming a charter company.

Which would explain why there was another identical yacht standing immediately behind although at an earlier stage of work.

Leopard was based in the Hamble a few years ago, as a charter boat as I recall, and Petrel was often seen cruising the solent. She lay along side us at Yarmouth a few years ago and I chatted to the owner while he pumped the bilges for quite a time, it was a breezy day force 5 and 6 and apparently the seams would open if pressed hard in such conditions.

I also went aboard another one, Galahad in Cascais nr Lisbon years ago when we were cruising Blue Clipper. It will be great to see these lovely boats out and about again.


  1. A bit more background: They are fabulous yachts, but over time various rumours have entered circulation, which I hope I might clear up, as best I can.

    There were seven MG43s in all. Being originally naval yachts, they formed classes, with class names. Five were based in Dartmouth (BRNC): Pegasus (not Petrel, though she may of course been renamed), Leopard, Gryphis, Martlet and Wyvern (think Heraldry) and two in Plymouth (Manadon): Galahad and Gawaine (think Round Table). At Dartmouth, each yacht was attached to a division, the divisions being named after admirals from the past. Being naval, they also flew the White Ensign, which suited them rather well. The Navy hung on to the names, so if the yacht is on Part I, the name will have some addition (Spirit of Gawaine, Leopard of Avon, then Falmouth etc).

    They were designed and built to be the ultimate West Channel Sail Training Craft, to replace the 'Windfall' (war reparations) yachts, which were not so well suited to West Country waters. Originally with no engines, and huge fractional rigs to compensate, they ended up with engines (Sabb 2HGs by the end of their time with the Navy) and after an incident in the late 1960s in the North Sea (a cadet lost overboard), their rigs were cut down to a more manageable size. This is why seen beam on the rig - now masthead - appears to be a bit far forward - it is. The original masts had another approx 11ft, and the boom approx 3ft, so quite a big slab was taken off the leach of the main. The Navy sold the yahcts sometime around the early 1980s.

    While looking for a MG43, I came across and/or saw Leopard, Pegasus, Martlet, Wyvern, Galahad and Gawaine (the latter was not built by Morgan Giles but Taylors of Shoreham, with minor differences to the MG yachts). It is said on reasonable authority that Gryphis had been lost in the Red Sea - so if Gryphis is in Chichester that will be quite an achievement! The photos above look to me to be Leopard and Pegasus - the latter had a rough time of things at one stage and was for a while on the hard-standing at Berthons in Lymington, and as I recall had a dark red/burgundy mainsail cover.

    Leopard I know best because I skippered her for a few years in the noughties, based as you say on the Hamble, although we went down to the West Country as often as we could. Although she did a bit of skippered charter, she was mainly used to run RYA sail cruising courses - and many an adventure we had!

    Looked after, these yachts will go on forever. They have a presence on the water no modern yacht can match, and, so long as there is some wind, go like the clappers. There truly are fabulous yachts and I am delighted to hear that three of them will be joining company and sailing together again.

    Chris Sinclair
    One time skipper/instructor, Select Sailing
    chris [ @ ] select-sailing [ . ] co [ . ] uk

    1. Dear Chris, I am not sure if you will receive this enquiry, but first my father and then I both sailed in Windfall Class Yachts. He is no longer with us but was ex RN 2ndWW DDay. Myself sailed in the Gawaine but completed the same round trip Plymouth, St Malo and back through the Channel Islands. I am writing a book and wanted to discover all I could about these vessels. I know that my Dad put his name down to sail them back from Germany but 10 000 others beat him too it. Best, Marcus Marchant..

  2. I have been reminded that I got ahead (or rather behind) myself in the above account.For a period it was believed that it was Gryphis that got lost in the Red Sea; in fact it was Wyvern, so no doubt it is Gryphis at Chichester. Apologies for mixing them up!

  3. Do you know if Wyvern may have raced in the fifties? and when she was lost and why?


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