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William Fife


1857 - 1944

Yacht designer. Born in Fairlie (North Ayrshire), his father and grandfather had also been boat-builders, who had established a construction yard at Fairlie. Fife became known as the premier designer of classic wooden yachts, noted for their craftsmanship and dragon trademark. Fife once said that "a good yacht should be fast and bonnie" and his designs lived up to this ideal.

His clients included Royalty and the wealthy, even producing small boats for their children. Sir Thomas Lipton (1850 - 1931), the grocery magnate, asked Fife to design the Shamrock to challenge for the Americas Cup.

His boats remain highly prized and many can still be found sailing from the wealthy resorts of the Cote d'Azur.

Fife was awarded an OBE. He never married and is buried at Largs. Fife's yard was sold after his death and continued to build fishing boats and repair yachts. It finally closed in 1985.


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