“Long before Merlin and Imp, Blondie and Condor — and Charley,The Wizard, Morning Cloud, Santa Cruz 27s/50s/70s, Regardless, Fast Is Fun, Mirabella V, the Chicken Coop, half the Swan lineup in the ’80s and ’90s and, well, everything else — Ron Holland and Bill Lee were just two young guys having fun and hoping to make a career in the marine industry. “
Looking for a nice Christmas present? How about Ron Holland’s book “All The Oceans”. Ron Holland drew his first yacht at 19 years of age. He rapidly made a name for himself as one of the most successful and sought-after designers in the highly competitive world of international ocean racing. Ron designed the 1973 Quarter Ton Cup (Weymouth) winning 1/4 tonner ‘Eygthene’ and the 1977 Quarter Ton Cup (Helsinki) winning 1/4 tonner ‘Manzanita’. A great book!
Holland grew up in Auckland, New Zealand, where, he recalls, every family had a boat – the majority of them built right at home – to sail Harukai Gulf and the Firth of Themes.
By 15, he was crewing on yachts, and competing in races and regattas, and made the 1,000-mile journey from Auckland to Sydney, Australia aboard at 236-foot ketch. He became an apprentice boat builder.
In 1966 – at the age of 18 – he received his first design commission, which led to more, and he traveled to San Francisco as a Trainee Naval Architect, under celebrated yacht designer Gary Mull.
Holland arrived in St. Petersburg in 1972, accepting a job with Charley Morgan, whose Morgan Yachts was one of the most successful design and construction companies in the States. He became a well-known figure out the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, and in his memoir he recalls the organization “was primarily a social club but they also had a good racing organization … I spent most weekends racing around the magnificent Tampa Bay and Gulf of Mexico aboard a variety of yachts.”
It was here that Holland designed the first of his legendary vessels – a 24-foot racing boat called a “quarter tonner.” Called Eygthene, the scrappy little yacht was built for approximately $6,000.
From All the Oceans: “I drew a deep breath and approached senior members of the yacht club committee with a proposal that they organize an event that would showcase the Quarter-Ton class on Tampa Bay: a level-rating event, a true test of the relative merits of the yachts. Considering I was not even a member of the club – and a New Zealander to boot – was probably asking a bit much.
This book will not give you the technical expertise to design a yacht but it is a wonderful, rollicking adventure story of Ron Holland growing up and getting to the top of his profession in often hilarious steps. In any successful life chance plays a part but more important is the ability to capitalize on good luck and the ability to somehow derive benefit from bad luck as well.
Ron Holland’s story is inspiring, fascinating and amusing. It is a good easy read and beautifully presented book.
In a long and successful career, Ron Holland has seen many of his creations launched, from America’s Cup yachts to Whitbread yachts to superyachts. Now he has launched a book, All The Oceans: Designing by the seat of my pants, recounting his life as a leading yacht designer.
“I did not pursue what is now considered the traditional way to become a yacht designer,” he says. “Always fascinated by voyages of exploration under sail, a natural talent for drawing and a three-year apprenticeship in a wood boat fabrication shop laid the foundation for me to strike out on my own. Without hesitation, I grasped every opportunity that came my way.
Friends, clients, crew-mates and colleagues came to a function at the Quaterdeck in the RNZYS to celebrate the launching of his book – now on sale at the RNZYS Retail Store – were tales were exchanged and the usual toast raised.