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.