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Nonsuch Photo Galleries | profile | all galleries >> builder of Fisher's NONSUCH & literally MANY 1000s of other yachts . . . George Hinterhoeller R.I.P. tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

builder of Fisher's NONSUCH & literally MANY 1000s of other yachts . . . George Hinterhoeller R.I.P.


Some of the following and the photo of George were copied and plagiarized from the nice piece about him in the C&C Photo Gallery.


George Hinterhoeller was the founder of two incarnations of Hinterhoeller Yachts (1959-1969 & 1976-1990) and was one of the five co-founders of C&C Yachts (1969). Those five were Erik Bruckmann, George Cuthbertson, George Cassian, George Hinterhoeller, and Ian Morch.

George was also a talented and successful yacht designer in addition to being one of the finest production yacht builders in the world and an internationally respected innovator. He likely built the first production fiberglass boats in Canada (the SHARK, starting in 1960).

He was born in Mondsee, Austria on March 16, 1928 on the north shore of the lake of the same name. This is in the 'lakes region' of Austria just east of Salzburg and has a very long history of boating by the wealthy and aristocratic of the region with very high quality wood boat and yacht building that served the wants and needs of those who vacationed and played on the waters there. Beginning in 1946 at age 18, George apprenticed to become a Master Boat Builder under old world Master Boat Builders in this very exacting and demanding boat building environment. George came to Canada as a young man of 24 in 1952. He was quoted in "Chapter 11 - Boat Building In Canada" by Practical Sailor's Daniel Spurr in his fiberglass boat building history HEART OF GLASS . . . "I arrived in North America where the streets are paved . . . ".

George launched a boating revolution with his goal of "a boat dat vould go like hell ven da vind blows". In 1959 this recent immigrant from Austria, who was working building spectacular varnished mahogany power launches at Shepherd Boats in Niagara-on-the-Lake, decided he wanted a boat of his own. It would be a personal project he could work on. He envisioned a boat that was big enough to sail on Lake Ontario but much faster and more nimble than the full-keel, heavy displacement wooden boats that were commonly built and widely used in those years.

TEETER-TOTTER was her name. She was a twenty-two foot long sloop, very light and an easy joy to sail. A flat bottom, hard chine design ensured that she would be fast. It wasn't long before TEETER-TOTTER gained lots of attention, and sailors near Niagara-on-the-Lake were telling George they wanted one too.

And so began his great legacy, as George began to manufacture the boat he called the SHARK 24. Originally made of plywood, the SHARK was very soon made of fibreglass thanks to a buyer who insisted on having one built with 'glass, which was considered a 'risky' material at that time. Fibreglass was cheaper plus easier to maintain and eliminated about 80% of the man hours involved in building the SHARK using wood. This meant sailing was no longer just for the well to do and the rich.

It wasn't long before there were SHARK 24s sailing and racing all around the Great Lakes, on the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers, and off both Canadian seaboards. The Hinterhoellers were out there sailing, "among the first to race as a family," according to George's wife Nona. At a time when most racing crews were grown men, George and Nona were both out there along with their children, Gabrielle, Richard and Barbara. The family would take over whatever Shark was sitting around the factory each spring -- perhaps one whose final colour the customer hadn't liked -- sail it for the summer, and then sell it in the fall. Today there are approximately 2500 SHARKS still being sailed in North America and Europe.

A legendary true story tells of Sid Dakin's Shark, DUCK SOUP, with her kite pulling strong, SURFING & PLANING PAST (!) Norm Walsh's beautiful, fast, and hard charging 56' custom C&C designed yawl INNISFREE during a good blow on the way to DUCK SOUP winning the Blockhouse Bay Race across Lake Ontario from Toronto to Olcott NY. Dakin (who later was an international Shark, Soling, and Nonsuch champ) finished first overall versus the 56 footer (over twice the Shark's length!) and all the other 'big' U.S. and Canadian yachts of that time on Lake Ontario.

After the SHARK, George concentrated mainly on building boats rather than designing. In 1969, along with George Cuthbertson's and George Cassian's design firm, he became one of the founding partners in C&C Yachts. He eventually and rather reluctantly became President of C&C but only stayed until 1976, when he said he was, "spending more time in the boardroom than building boats" and the latter always was his true love.

George then re-established Hinterhoeller Yachts in 1976. Many very fine C&C employees wanted to work with him and soon moved to join his new company. George designed and built his new world class facility in St. Catherines, Ontario by 1977. The 62,000 sq. ft. plant was designed especially for efficient "production building" of very high quality boats.

While producing boats, Hinterhoeller Yachts engaged the talents of boat designer Mark Ellis for the more cruising oriented NONSUCH (original design by Gordon Fisher) and NIAGARA models ranging from 22 feet to 42 feet in length. World reknowned naval architect German Frers was commissioned to design the competition oriented NIAGARA 31 and FRERS F-3.

In the 1976 iteration of Hinterhoeller Yachts, George's first major commission was by former Canadian Olympic sailor Joe "J.J." MacBrien for his 40 foot long AURORA. J.J.'s new boat was named VANGUARD and his design was called the Aurora 40. Royal Canadian Y.C. Past Commodore, Bob "R.D." Grant commissioned the second of these as TO WINDWARD to replace the custom C&C 48 DISCOVERY that Bob sold to Vancouver, BC in early 1976. Dave Harris and Arthur Langley were the deck captains of the two watches aboard DISCOVERY in 1975. A former Nonsuch sailor, David Philpott, bought TO WINDWARD from R.D. a decade later, in 1988. Four of the Aurora 40s were commissioned from Hinterhoeller Yachts. The later Niagara 42 was essentially the Aurora 40 design stretched a few feet by Ellis for Hinterhoeller Yachts.

After the AURORA 40s George soon built an unusual, new, and uniquely modern version of a cruising catboat in a commission for Gordon Fisher who was another Royal Canadian Y.C. Past-Commodore and was the C.E.O. of Southam Press. Three others...Fred S. Eaton, David E. Howard (also a past Commodore of RCYC), and Paul Henderson (Olympian & later ISAF President)...joined Gordon in a 'small run' of these boats delivered throughout the mid-late summer of 1978. A happy accident and Gordon's usual generosity led to a hugely successful reception for Gordon's boat when she was exhibited to the buying public at the Annapolis Boat Show in October 1978. From 1979 through 1995 this design was built in several variations all taking their name from Fisher's NONSUCH which in turn was named after the famous NONSUCH in Canadian sailing and business history . . .

Close to 1000 boats were built based upon Fisher's wonderful, simple, practical, and eminently 'sailable' concept and design.

Most sailors do not realize just how much "good sense" and how many "good ideas" George Hinterhoeller added to the "as built" design of most of the boats he built . . . including all the Nonsuch models while he was at Hinterhoeller. Remember, he was an excellent designer in addition to being one of the world's best boat builders.

A fun and famous "George" anecdote . . .
In the early Nonsuch years during a forum of the designer and builder with owners, a question was addressed to Mark Ellis by an owner asking why the owner's 30C weighed considerably more than the weight shown in the brochures. Mark quickly stated, "Well that's the way I designed it". George had long spoken English very well but . . . after waiting a few moments after Mark's comment, George said laconically while putting on a little extra of his lovely soft Austrian accent for fun emphasis, "Vel, I'd be dahmned if I sail her off the dock the veight she vas designed". George's very witty response was rewarded with much laughter. He always had a wonderful, quick, and warm sense of humour!

Another famous bit of George's great wit was about stainless steel, "They call it stainless because it stains less".

In 1986, Hinterhoeller Yachts transferred production of a number of the boats to Halman Manufacturing Company in Beamsville, Ontario.

In the late 1980's George sold out of Hinterhoeller Yachts, partly because he felt it was time to retire plus he also feared that the market was getting saturated with used boats and too many new ones were being built by all the Canadian builders. All those same builders were gone within a decade or less . . . including Hinterhoeller Yachts gone in '91. There was an abortive attempt to revive Hinterhoeller Yachts by investors from Hong Kong in 1995 but that lasted barely into early 1996.

The international boating community lost an immensely talented and warm hearted man, boat designer, boat builder, and sailor when 71-year old George Hinterhoeller died of a heart attack on March 18, 1999.

George was one of the first inductees into Canada's Boating Hall of Fame after it was created in 1997.

* * *

Boats designed by George Hinterhoeller . . .
1959 - SHARK 24
1965 - HR20 (Cygnus 20 in 1967)
1967 - NIAGARA 30
1969 - HR-25
1974 - CYGNUS 20
1977 - NIAGARA 26

Not including all the C&C models George oversaw building, the boats actually built by Hinterhoeller Yachts were. . .
1959 - SHARK 24
1965 - INVADER 36
1967 - NIAGARA 30
1967 - REDWING 30
1968 - FRIGATE 36
1969 - HR-25
1969 - REDWING 35
1974 - CYGNUS 20 - by Skene Boats, Ottawa ON
1976 - AURORA 40
1977 - NIAGARA 26
1977 - NIAGARA 31
1978 - NIAGARA 35
1978 - NONSUCH 30
1981 - FRERS F3
1982 - NONSUCH 26
1983 - NONSUCH 36
1984 - NONSUCH 22
1984 - NIAGARA 42
1988 - NONSUCH 33
1994 - NONSUCH 260
1994 - NONSUCH 324
1994 - NONSUCH 354

click on the galleries below for MORE photos !

Shepherd Boats
:: Shepherd Boats ::
George Anton Hinterhoeller
George Anton Hinterhoeller
mouth of the Niagara River from the north
mouth of the Niagara River from the north
:: SHARK 24 ::
:: NIAGARA 30 ::
:: HINTERHOELLER 28 - H28 ::
:: HR25 ::
:: REDWING 30 ::
:: CYGNUS 20 ::
:: NIAGARA 26 ::
NONSUCH, early 1978, Hinterhoeller shop
NONSUCH, early 1978, Hinterhoeller shop
building the 26 mould plug, in early 1980
building the 26 mould plug, in early 1980