Please select your home edition
Edition
Auckland On the Water Boat Show

David Binks, a lifetime of achievement

by Trevor Gill on 8 Apr 2013
David Binks at Brighton Jetty ..
There is a sense of calmness and clarity about David Binks that is very reassuring in a boat builder.

An enduring quality of modesty belies a lifetime of achievement for the quietly spoken artisan whose career began among boat builders, ship’s chandlers, sailmakers and provisioners of Port Adelaide in the early 1950s. Trusted nameplates like William Russell, Searles, McFarlanes, Porters and Clausen swung above the ebb and flow.

As a boy, David regularly fished off Brighton in a carvel-built timber cutter powered by a single cylinder Chapman Pup motor.

From the age of 10 when he fished with family friend Ambrose Hinton, David developed a passion for boats that soon saw him sailing Cadet Dinghies at the Brighton and Seacliff Yacht Club in a group that included another budding sailor called Jim Hardy.

Schooling at St Peter’s College equipped David with the ability to make a number of career choices. But the call of the sea and a love of working with his hands proved too hard to resist, and he chose an apprenticeship with legendary Port Adelaide boatbuilder J. P. Clausen & Sons, starting at the age of 17.

In the Clausen shed, David worked with traditionalists shaping jarrah keels with an adze, fitting planks of sugar pine, Pacific maple and teak, steam bending ribs of kauri, making decks of plywood and caulking hulls with
oakum.

The young man quickly learnt the trusted old ways of working with wood. But it was the emerging wonders of fibreglass that propelled David into a new era of boat design and building, and a business that made him a household name among discerning sailors around the world.

In the latter stages of his apprenticeship with J. P. Clausen & Sons, his boss asked David to make the plug of a 15ft clinker fishing boat to be constructed from the new material of fibreglass that had been developed in the United States.

The Lightburn company in Adelaide used the plug as a mould to produce many fibreglass shells that were returned to J. P. Clausen & Sons to be fitted with wooden decks and thwarts.

It was the beginning of a new era.
From the outset, the young boat builder was fascinated with the possibilities of fibreglass and how he could apply his emerging skills in his own business. In 1959, he formed Binks Yacht Constructions initially building wooden speedboats for skiing and racing enthusiasts on the Port River.

In 1960, prominent businessman and yachtsman John Bagshaw encouraged a small group of accomplished Adelaide sailors to try their hands in 505 class racing yachts, a design new to Australia.

David made some of the 505s in moulded plywood and among those who were quickly converted to the potential of these yachts were Jim (later Sir James) Hardy and Fred Neill, both of whom later became famous at the helms of slick keel boats in the Admiral’s Cup and America’s Cup.

David experimented with design and construction of the 505s eventually mastering how to build the yachts in fibreglass – light enough to compete with wood and rigid enough to achieve winning speed in the water.

Again, David was at the forefront of change producing the first fibreglass yacht build in Australia and then perfecting a system of sandwiching a lightweight foam core between two layers of fibreglass, a concept that was embraced by boat builders around the world.

In 1963, one of the Binks fibreglass yachts competed in the World 505 Championships off Long Island Sound in New York. Sailed by Brian Price, the Aussie entry with revolutionary layout and fittings blitzed the field to take out the honours.

The following year, another Binks 505 took out the World Championships off Cork in Ireland. The international yachting community was amazed at the achievement and fully awakened about what was happening in a relatively small boatyard in suburban Adelaide.

As a result, David was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study boat building overseas – an honour that took him to the United States where he met two people who had a huge impact on his life.

One of those people was Connecticut boat builder Les Goodwin, who pioneered fibreglass boat construction in that country. The second was his daughter, Pamela, who was to become David’s wife and the mother of their two daughters.

Balancing the strength and weight advantages of fibreglass hulls with the beauty of traditional timber features, Binks Yacht Constructions forged an enviable record producing boats in many classes including Flying Dutchman, Fireball, OK Dinghy, Yachting World Cadet, Star and Gwen 12. David also introduced two new international classes to Australia – the 420 and 470.

In 1972, a fire destroyed the Binks factory at Somerton Park, including the precious moulds of boats, many of which had filled export orders. As a result, David turned his hand to designing and building larger yachts, later developing a long association with legendary New Zealand designer Bruce Farr.

In 2008, David retired but retained a half share of the business he developed. Over the years, he had produced thousands of off-the-beach yachts and around 300 deep keel yachts.

His contribution to the industry has been enormous, including 40 continuous years as a Board Member of the Boating Industry Association of SA. He also served many years as a technical advisor to the Australian Marine Industry developing industry standards for pleasure craft.

'Above all, I feel incredibly lucky to have worked in the transition from timber to fibreglass,' David said.

And, with so much experience and so many achievements to his name, are there some words to define what he looks for it a boat?

'It has to be graceful,' he explained. 'And there has to be a sense of individuality in design. Ultimately, you can have a wonderfully designed and built boat, but to make it successful requires seamanship, an ability to understand the sea and its moods.'
NaiadPredictWind.comMackay Boats

Related Articles

Keep the water out with Zhik’s new Superthermal Hydrobase
The lower arm and leg of the new Superthermal Hydrobase is made from a water-repellent, stretch woven fabric We’ve all done it - and fished a rope out of the water, pushed the rudder down or stepped down the slipway one foot too far and gained that unwanted wet sleeve or leg.
Posted on 9 Aug
North Sails releases new 3Di Headsail for the J/105 Class
North Sails released its latest headsail design for competitive J/105 class. The Li-5 3Di jib replaces the L-4 3DL jib North Sails released its latest headsail design for the competitive J/105 class. The Li-5 3Di jib replaces the L-4 3DL jib bringing the ultimate consistency and performance of North’s exclusive 3Di technology to this light-air optimized headsail. The Li-5 is the perfect complement for the Mi-4 3Di jib which is an all-purpose sail.
Posted on 4 Aug
Hands up - Who is wearing the Zhik Boot 460 at the Moth Worlds?
The Zhik Boot 460 are known as the active dinghy sailors ‘best friend’. The Zhik Boot 460 are known as the active dinghy sailors ‘best friend’. Last week Peter Burling rang the Zhik product development team in Sydney, for assistance to get hold of a pair of the Boot 460s in time for the Moth Worlds in Lake Garda. And looking around the fleet it seems he’s not alone, and the 230 strong fleet of Moth sailors are voting with their feet too.
Posted on 29 Jul
Yacht Racing Forum extends partnership with Zhik for two more years
Top sailors choose Zhik gear to win world championships, and demand it for their OIympic campaigns. The company sells its products into an international network covering more than 40 countries, in Europe, the Americas and the Asia Pacific.
Posted on 25 Jul
Moth Worlds – Moth speed uncovered
C-Tech’s Tim Willetts takes time to reflect on changes in Moth class rig design and development over the past six years With the 2017 Moth world championship starting Tuesday, C-Tech’s Tim Willetts takes time to reflect on changes in Moth class rig design and development over the past six years. A lot has happened behind the scenes that is giving the top sailors the edge by staying ahead.
Posted on 25 Jul
Int Moth Worlds - Zhik returns to its spiritual home at 2017 Worlds
Zhik is returning to its roots as the official clothing sponsor of the 2017 McDougall McConaghy Moth World Championships Zhik, the innovative sailing apparel specialist, is returning to its roots as the official clothing sponsor of the 2017 McDougall McConaghy Moth World Championships. And, ten years on, the Moths are returning to their spiritual home on Lake Garda. Zhik and the International Moth class are virtually synonymous with each other.
Posted on 20 Jul
World Sailing confirms strong presence at Yacht Racing Forum 2017
The tenth edition of the Yacht Racing Forum, in Aarhus, Denmark will reassemble the sport’s key personalities and actors The tenth edition of the Yacht Racing Forum, in Aarhus, Denmark (November 27-28) will once again reassemble the sport’s key personalities and actors, including a strong delegation of World Sailing representatives.
Posted on 19 Jul
Watch Change in Crosshaven - UK Sailmakers under new command
'Our strength has always been service, quality and people. Right now, they are Graham, Claire and Barry.' The famous Crosshaven loft that is part of the UK Sailmakers organisation will shortly have a new crew on deck. Barry Hayes, Claire Morgan and Graham Curran are taking over from Des McWilliam who is stepping down after 39 years in the business and 25 years at the helm of McWilliam Sailmakers.
Posted on 3 Jul
When the going gets hot Zhik has the answers on what to wear afloat
Whilst many of us Brits are looking in the sailing bag wondering what on earth to wear afloat in this heatwave Whilst many of us Brits are looking in the sailing bag wondering what on earth to wear afloat in this heatwave, Zhik the Australian sailing apparel innovators are set up for dealing with extreme heat, moisture management and sun protection.
Posted on 22 Jun
AkzoNobel named as official supplier to the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard
The competing boats– including team AkzoNobel’s brand new Volvo Ocean 65– have already been coated with Awlgrip products AkzoNobel will be the official coatings supplier to the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard in 2017-18, after signing a deal to ensure that the fleet of Volvo Ocean 65 racing yachts will be coated with the company’s International and Awlgrip range of products
Posted on 29 May