Induction Class of 1995

George Lennox Watson


1851 - 1904

Portrait by Sir James Guthrie Courtesy of G.L. Watson & Co

A reversal of family fortunes led George L. Watson to become indentured to William Pearce, a Clyde shipbuilder whose yard had a reputation of holding to high standards of training. Here, he learned the aspects of ship construction that would make his name virtually a household word in turn of the century Britain. The establishment of Watson's own business in 1873 met with immediate success. His yacht MADGE came to New York in 1879, and, much like the earlier yacht AMERICA, trounced almost everything she sailed against. Her nearly perfect sailing record led to New York press predictions for the dawning of a new era in yacht design. Thus did MADGE's designer launch his distinguished international career. One of Britain's first professional yacht designers, Watson produced the America's Cup Challengers THISTLE in 1887, VALKYRIE II in 1893, VALKYRIE III in 1895, and SHAMROCK II in 1899. The design of these fast yachts affirmed that deep draft and large ballast ratios could produce superior windward performance. Watson was the first designer to extend the developments of R.E. Froude in the model testing of yacht hulls to improve design. His ideas influenced Cup designs for decades. Watson lived to see his yachts owned and appreciated by royalty, and by many of the world's wealthiest sportsmen. His MAYFLOWER served as the U.S. Presidential yacht for many years.