Logan Brothers: Yacht Designers Extraordinaire

Wednesday, March 16, 2016
THELMA, A Class, under sail, 20 March 1905 / Photographer, Henry Winkelmann. Royal NZ Yacht Squadron loan, NZ Maritime Museum B2N77

Robert Snr, Robert Jnr, John and Archibald Logan are responsible for the design and construction of some of the fastest racing yachts in New Zealand’s history.  

Robert Logan Snr came to New Zealand in 1874, just 4 years later he had a thriving business with Henry Niccol at Devonport building steamers, whaleboats and racing yachts. Using New Zealand native timbers especially Kauri which proved to be easy to work and resistant to rot.

ARIKI, A Class, setting the spinnaker, 1905 / Photographer, Henry Winkelmann. Royal NZ Yacht Squadron loan, NZ Maritime Museum B2N68

Three of his sons Archibald, Robert Jnr and John were taught the art of boat building by their father and were also influenced by the new yacht designs coming from Britain. They set up business as Logan Brothers. They adapted their designs to meet new trends. Their first yacht was GLORIANA built in 1892. Famous yacht names in the A Class that came from this yard include ARIKI, THELMA, RAINBOW, IORANGI and RAWHITI. Their yachts designs performed so well that they were regular trophy winners in New Zealand and Australia.

GLORIANA and MATANGI, sailing off Emu Point, Auckland, 1898 / Photographer, Henry Winkelmann.Royal NZ Yacht Squadron loan, NZ Maritime Museum B5N6

When the Logan Brothers partnership dissolved in 1910, Archibald Logan set up a yard on his own and continued to influence the New Zealand yacht scene by designing two new classes of yachts.  The M Class (MAWHITI is on display in the NZ Maritime Museum), which was adopted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. The Silver Fern Class a later design was adopted by the Herne Bay Sailing Club.

In the year 2000 the Classic Yacht Association of New Zealand hosted the Logan Classic Regatta which featured 70 yachts from Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand. The fleet included WAITANGI which had been built by Robert Logan Snr in 1894, a fitting tribute to this extraordinary family.

By Marleene Boyd

For more information:

Logan brothers yard

Archibald Logan

Further reading:

Classic: the revival of classic boating in New Zealand / Ivor Wilkins. Auckland : Godwit, 2010.

The Logans: New Zealand’s greatest boatbuilding family / Robin Elliott. Auckland : David Ling, 2001.

Southern breeze: a history of yachting in New Zealand / Harold Kidd, Robin Elliott & David Pardon. Auckland : Viking in association with the New Zealand National Maritime Museum, 1999.


A preliminary investigation of the historic shipbuilding industry of Auckland / J. Debreceny. Auckland : Dept. of Conservation, 1992.

Index to the NZ section of the register of all British ships 1840-1950 (inclusive) / compiled by M. N. Watt.  Wellington : New Zealand Ship and Marine Society, 1962.

Little ships: the story of the birth and growth of New Zealand's yachting fleet from the earliest recorded events to the year 1940 / by Ronald Carter.  Wellington : Reed, 1944.