A life Worth Living
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.
Amazon Customer July 2018
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.
Very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library Contemporary Biography collections, All The Oceans: Designing by the Seat of My Pants is an inherently interesting and impressively informative memoir of an man living in interesting times, and involved in pursing intrinsically challenging projects with and for other interesting people.
– Michael Dunford
All the Oceans is an excellent read and is sure to become a classic on the bookshelves of anyone involved in the world of yachts from the 1970s to modern days. Holland got his start as a youth by immersing himself in the world of offshore sailing and racing and was intimately involved with some of the world’s fastest speedsters in some of its most challenging races.
From his offices in lreland, Holland designed yachts for, and became friends with, such notable figures as former British Prime Minister Ted Heath, newspaper mogul Rupert Murdoch and Monaco’s Prince Rainier. He also designed a number of production yachts for Nautor Swan, Camper Nicholson and Jeanneau and collaborated on New Zealand’s first America’s Cup entry in 1987 (which lost out in the final round to Dennis Connor’s Stars and Stripes).
In the 1980s, Holland started designing 100-foot-plus sailboats. His most celebrated is the 247-foot (75.3 metre) Mirabella V, launched in 2005. It was, and still is, the largest sloop ever built. Until then, the technology to manufacture the massive masts, winches, rigging, sails and hydraulics for such large vessels didn’t exist, but that didn’t stop Holland. There were many skeptics who said that the structural challenges were insurmountable. However, Holland proved them wrong. The amazing aspect to all this is that Holland was never schooled in yacht design; he learned the basics while working and taking classes as an apprentice boat builder at the age of 16.
Some of the most riveting parts of the book are when Holland takes us through high-seas dramas such as being arrested by the Cuban military; his near-death experience during the notorious 1979 Fastnet Race during which 15 people died; the keel failure of Simon Le Bon’s (lead singer for Duran Duran) yacht prior to the Whitbread Race, and more.
In 2012, Holland moved his design offices to Vancouver and began to settle into semi-retirement. However, he hasn’t given up sailing and still owns a small Coronado 25 for local sailing where he is active in the racing community. Holland was there, saw it all and helped write history. AII the Oceans takes us on an amazing insider’s voyage through it all.
—Peter A. Robson
I first met Ron Holland at the launch of Mirabella V in Southampton during 2003 and for those that are unaware she was, and still is , the largest single masted yacht ever built. Being the designer of such a vessel is an accolade in itself, she would have been a reference point in any yacht designers career, and Ron had been asked to lead the creative team due to his history of designing many of the finest sail yachts ever built, be they simply cruising the world’s oceans or taking part in, and winning many of the world’s most rugged yacht races. I have to admit to sitting in awe watching his presentation of M5 (her more recent name). I mused on what sort of man Ron was and imagined him being a ‘difficult-to-approach’ creative genius.
Several years later, during the spring of 2009, I was in search of a subject for the increasingly popular ‘Man At The Top’ series of editorials in Yachting Matters and I recalled the M5 presentation and thought Ron would be the ideal person to interview. With great trepidation I approached Ron to see if he was willing to meet up with me and tell me his life story and I nwas delighted when I received his reply ‘By all means’.
We met in the beautiful town of Kinsale, near Cork on the coast of Southern Ireland where Ron’s design studio was located. At 9 am on a Sunday morning I walked into a little cafe and there, sat before me , was the man himself. He greeted me with the biggest smile and a warm handshake. He immediately put me at ease as we tucked into a hearty fry-up before walking the short distance to his office.
We talked all day; covering his life as a youngster, his first designs, his love of sailing (especially racing), his involvement in the America’s Cup , his move from New Zealand to the USA and on to Ireland, his famous designs, his ups and his downs, his move into the Superyacht arena, where many of his world’s largest sail yachts have his fingerprints all over them.
My editorial came out at 15 pages, pretty sizeable for a magazine editorial but it only covered just a few memories from this extremely extraordinary man’s life.
However, for those that would liked to have known a lot more about this iconic figure it appears that your hopes have been realized as Ron has just published his life story in a magnificent memoir titled All The Oceans – Designing by the seat of my pants.