Youth Sailing Foundation Lands “Master Regatta Race Coach for Yachting New Zealand” as its Sailing Director


Gary Griffith


As the Sailing Director, Gary is responsible for the production and coordination of all YSF’s sailing programs, to include Youth Sailing classes one, two and three; Adult Sailing classes one and two; and High School C-420 Sailing Teams.

Coordinating and evaluating all YSF sailing programs, Gary has developed and implemented a sailing curriculum and various integrated programs in conjunction with measures to evaluate their performance. He is also coordinating all YSF staff, coaches, volunteers and parents involved with instruction, fleet maintenance, repair and waterfront projects.

With the help of the Director of Youth Education, the head instructors & volunteers, Gary is managing multiple program schedules, student data lists, files and attendance records and sailing volunteer information and schedules.

As a Master Race Coach for Yachting New Zealand, Gary is well qualified to lead YSF’s Race Committee.

Above all, he is acting as a role model for students and instructors.

Here is his marvelous biography:

IMG_0312 Gary

Gary, Jules and Freya Griffith

(Notice the painting of YSF students sailing in the background)

Gary first learned to sail on a Sabot dinghy on a lake in the mountains on a sheep and cattle property.

At a young age, he was selected as one of the young Australians to participate in Operation Drake, a round the world expedition sponsored by Prince Charles. As part of the expedition, he sailed in the Pacific as a crewmember of the Brigantine “Eye of The Wind,” learning traditional sailing skills. This experience started his lifelong love of sailing.

During his 20’s while based in the UK, he sailed when he could on a range of racing and traditional sailing vessels.

On his return to Australia, he sailed the Olympic Class Finn, competing in State and National Championships, winning a number of events. He was awarded the Finn Association Presidents Trophy.

He was an Olympic trialist for the Barcelona Olympics. During this period he also successfully raced the Mirror dinghy as crew for his wife (Jules), the Dolphin catamaran and Laser. He was the mainsheet hand on an18ft skiff representing the state of Victoria. Asked to crew as part of the 1987 Australian Americas Cup Challenge he withdrew preferring to concentrate on dinghy sailing.

Gary became one of the first professional sailors as sail master on the Farr 36 Saltshaker II and the Farr 40 Roperunner. On behalf of the owner he campaigned this yacht successfully on a number of offshore events. He also skippered a number of other successful ocean racers.

In 1993, Jules and Gary moved to Queenstown, New Zealand to run a Heliskiing/Helicopter operation. In 1994, they purchased the 1929 Gaff Cutter “Mink,” which became their summer home in the Bay of Islands.

Gary also owned and skippered an Elliott 5.9, sponsored by Hewlett Packard that was very successful winning many events with his long-term crew members Merv Aoke and Mike Dickinson. He won the Elliot 5.9 Match Racing Nationals as mainsheet hand and tactician on Brown’s Real Estate. He also skippered Etchells, winning a number of match racing and regatta events.

On board “Mink,” Gary, Jules and Freya sailed many miles off the coast of New Zealand and Pacific. They survived a cyclone (hurricane) at sea making Gary a true believer in the sea worthiness of traditional double ender designs. During the 2000 America’s Cup Regatta in Auckland, the Griffith family (three generations) competed in the Logan Cup for Classic Yachts.

At the 2000 America’s cup Gary was employed by Hewlett Packard to help with data analysis for America One.

During the Americas Cup in New Zealand, Gary met Dr. (now Professor Ross Vennell), one of the members of the design team for the successful Team New Zealand boat. In 2002, Gary took up Ross’s offer to work with him at the Ocean Physics Group at the University of Otago. Gary completed a PhD in Ocean Physics in 2007.

While working with Ross, he was involved in assisting New Zealand high performance dinghy sailors to improve both their boats and skills. He also assisted Ross working on Team New Zealand and Open 60 projects.

Based in Dunedin for his PhD, Gary returned to dinghy sailing, first in the Laser wining the Otago Championships; and then later back in the Finn, his favorite boat. In the Finn, he won a number of Club and regional Championships. Prior to leaving New Zealand, he also sailed the Farr 3.7 High Performance Dinghy.


Farr 3.7 High Performance Dinghies

In Dunedin, Gary started to help instruct at Macandrew Bay Boating Club, when his daughter Freya started sailing an Optimist Dinghy. He developed an innovative coaching program that led to Macandrew Bay sailors having great success including a number of national championships in the Sunburst, Optimist, P Class, 29er Skiff, Starling and Laser. His sailors also competed very successfully in International Regattas in the Optimist, Starling and 29er Skiff. Outside of his club sailors, he coached the Starling National Match Racing Champion.

He was guest coach at a number of clubs in New Zealand. Currently he is a Master Regatta Race Coach for Yachting New Zealand.

His own daughter is an Optimist, P- Class and Starling class champion sailor. She was the Otago representative at New Zealand’s most prestigious youth sailing regatta competing against the top 12 youth sailors each representing their province in New Zealand in the P-Class for the Tanner Cup. She was the Asia-Pacific girls Starling Class champion, South Island Starling class Champion and New Zealand Schools Girls Sunburst class Champion. She is a Club Coach for Yachting New Zealand.

Gary and Jules live on board a 1938 William Atkin designed “Ingrid” ketch built in 1978. They are both members of the Classic Yacht Association of New Zealand and love to participate in Classic and Traditional Yachting events.

Classic Yacht Assoc

2 thoughts on “Youth Sailing Foundation Lands “Master Regatta Race Coach for Yachting New Zealand” as its Sailing Director

  1. Gary Griffith is a great asset for the Youth Sailing Foundation. Besides being a knowledgeable coach, he has established safety as his first priority. My only regret is that my spouse’s health precludes my continued participation. May all your tacks and jibes be smooth ones!

  2. Pingback: Youth Sailing Foundation Lands “Master Regatta Race Coach for Yachting New Zealand” as its Sailing Director | bradusm3

Leave a Reply