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12 July 2004, 01:52 pm
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Austin "Clarence" Packard Farrar. CEng. FRINA., known as "Clarence" to his friends and colleagues, died on Tuesday 6 July, 2004 aged 91.
A man of remarkable innovation and skills, he was also a kind and thoughtful gentleman who took a great interest in his friends lives and achievements. In a short piece we can only touch on a few of his achievements, though many are still in use today.

Austin's Father was lost at sea in 1917 and he was raised by his Mother and Grandfather Edward PACKARD, who ran a company that, would eventually be known under the name Fisons. The Packard's shared a passion for sailing, with Austin's Mother being a noted helm in the Orwell Corinthian Class and by the age six, Austin had started on a life with boats. Living at the time in Felixstowe, he started Prep School where he was proud to have been taught to write by Enid BLYTON, then a trainee teacher. He continued at the Imperial Service College in Windsor, making model steam engines, and then to Philips and Son Ltd, Dartmouth for an Apprenticeship as a Marine Engineer.

It was his last year in the Drawing Office that showed his true innovative designing skills. His first paid job before he left Dartmouth was an independent design for two 'Holiday Maker' speedboats. One to just "look fast" for use inside the harbour, and one to "be" fast for use out in the bay. Despite being a fine design, the latter boat had to be modified to remove the spray rails when the customers complained they were not getting wet! During his free time Austin was fortunate to race with the "Family uncle" Sir William Burton on a succession of Twelve Metre Class Yachts and in his own Dart One Design Dinghy; although Austin always admitted he was a better crew than helm, saying, he always knew the right tactic just to late.

By way of a short spell at John Samuel White Ltd at Cowes and racing in the Solent aboard "Dolly Varden" the Ratsey & Lapthorn Sailmakers yacht, Austin joined the Drawing Office of the designer Robert CLARK in 1936. He worked on many famous yachts and drew the first "Pulpit" to be fitted to the yacht "Ortac". A great success, every yacht today is fitted with a pulpit to protect the crew on the foredeck. 1938 saw Austin start his association with the International 14 foot class and a lifelong friendship with Charles Currey. Together they worked on the development of the trapeze, now so common on racing dinghies, which was used so effectively by Peter Scott and John Winter during the championships of that year. War was looming and Austin joined the RNVR, but as a designer was better used in the business and he joined the Sussex Yacht Works in Shoreham, working on H.D.M.L's and the engine installations. More important work beckoned however, and in 1941 he moved to the Admiralty building in London to work with Captain CURREY (Charles CURREY'S Father) on the Torpedo Nets Project. This became his work for the rest of the war, but it was only many years later that he realised that over 50 ships had actually been saved.

After the war, Austin established the Woolverstone Shipyard where he designed and built the most successful International 14 Foot dinghies of the post war period, such as "Windsprite" and "Bolero", as well as many other craft. He developed the cold-moulding technique, setting the standards for others to follow. He designed the curved sliding seat now used on all International Canoes and paid attention to all the fittings and details required in racing boats.

In 1954, Austin sold the Yard and moved on to establish the renowned Seahorse Sails with Leslie WIDDICOMBE. At the forefront of developments in Terylene sail cloth, Austin was ever the innovator with sail shape and he designed and made many of the fittings that today we take for granted, including the headsail furling gear still made by Sailspar. Many of today's sailmakers started their time with Seahorse Sails. Eddie HYDE, Eddie WARDEN-OWEN and Andy CASSELL to name a few. Austin worked his own Spherical Trigonometry programmes for his famous spinnaker designs and also spent time on the development of stable spinnaker cloth. He worked in the wind tunnel with rigs for the Twelve Metre "Kurrewa V", and continued with the "Little Americas Cup" races for "C" Class catamarans. Britain successfully defended this trophy for many years in the 60's with the Hellcat boats and Austin's rigs on first "Emma Hamilton", which when modified, became the Olympic catamaran Tornado rig, and then the groundbreaking wing rig on "Lady Helmsman".

In 1948 Austin competed in the Olympic trials in the Swallow class finishing second, and subsequently became a measurement advisor, being invited to the 1960 Rome Olympics. This led to many years working with the International Yacht Racing Union and the Royal Yachting Association on technical matters. He was involved with Speed Sailing and advised many committees. Austin's work with the then IYRU, now ISAF, included being Technical Adviser to the IYRU Small Boat Technical Committee and Catamaran Technical Committee in 1965. He continued as an advisor to the IYRU Measurement Committee until 1990.

Although officially retiring in the late 1980's Austin never really stopped working and designing. He was an Honorary Vice-President of the Society for Nautical Research and worked on the design of HMS Victory's Cutters and other marine archaeological projects. He wrote for many magazines, and was a keen follower of wind energy. He worked with school children on engineering competitions and at home was renowned for his homemade wines and marmalade. He quietly restored his beloved vintage Bentley "Bumble" and took a keen interest in the restoration of his White Steam Car. He mastered wax casting, making commemorative medals and his own miniature working replica Cannons. Music from Mozart to Gershwin and humour from the Marx Brothers to "Wallace & Gromit" all combined to make this special man. It is very difficult to do justice in such a short piece to the amount of achievements and character that made Austin the person he was, but it can be said that every person that had the privilege of knowing or working with him will treasure that always.

ISAF extends its condolences to Austin's family and friends.
David Chivers (As Amended by ISAF Secretariat)
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