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Goose Magazine images accompany book Review for All The Oceans

The memoirs of yacht designer Ron Holland

Just say yes! An equally simple as, perhaps, ingenious, life motto. Trust in yourself and your intuition and abilities, say “yes” when new opportunities arise and see how things develop. It’s not just that he has lived and still does, intuitively and out of his gut, so he probably designed his many famous and successful yachts. This is the book, a big colorful book about a big, colorful life. The really unusual life of Ron Holland: sailor, traveler, yacht designer.

Born (1947) and raised in New Zealand, where his brother and he began sailing as little boys: his father gave him a small sailing dinghy for his 7th birthday. Already at 15 he was a regular crew member on New Zealand racing yachts, soon after he started a boat builder apprenticeship. His instructors, however, recognized his design talent and promoted this side in him. At 18 and with no formal education that he does not have until now, he was able to design his first boat. Around this time, he sailed on a small racing yacht across the Pacific to Hawaii, the crew was next to him and his friend and later competitor, Doug Peterson. Finally, Ron was able to start a job as a trainee at the American yacht designer Gary Mull in San Francisco.

His breakthrough as a designer came after he won the IOR Quarter- Tone Trophy in Europe in 1973 with a small self-designed and built boat called Eygthene . As a result, he was commissioned by the Irish sailor and entrepreneur Hugh Coveney to design an IOR monotone. Ron and his first wife, who were aboard their tiny regatta boat in England at the time, moved to Ireland – where Ron Holland would live for 40 years. Not yet 30, Ron Holland celebrated huge successes with his regatta yachts in the 1970s and quickly set up a large design bureau with a number of employees in Ireland. Many famous yachts have been designed there, including Golden Apple , Silver Shamrock(which, with Ron aboard, in the Fastnet race of 1979, like many other yachts lost the helm in the hurricane and had to be abandoned by the crew) and, above all, Imp .

Long-haired, in cowboy boots and pockets full of cash, Ron Holland and his co-designer, Butch Dalrymple-Smith, jockeyed around in those years of world history to visit clients, sail regattas or build one of the many yachts they created to inspect; in New Zealand as well as in England or America. In their design studio, the hobby musicians were often inspired by loud rock music at work and when it became too tedious and time-consuming to fly in line machines, they just bought their own plane and hired a pilot. With the recession in the 1990s, however, the business crash came and Ron, who had never paid much attention to the money, but had always spent it with his full hands, even had to file for bankruptcy for his company.

Goose Magazine Reviews Ron Holland's book "All The Oceans"


Soon, however, it went up again, it was now the beginning of the megayacht era. Ron Holland was also at the front here and almost as one of the pioneers; In 1986 he designed a sailing yacht of more than 100 feet in length and in the early 2000s, with the spectacular Mirabella V , and the largest sloop in the world – 76 meters long – until today.
This book is also so pleasurable to read because it is very personal and sometimes funny and because it does not gloss over anything. Relatively open, Ron Holland also writes here about his rather lax management and the resulting bankruptcy, as well as about the failure of two marriages, which has obviously put a great strain on him. Funnier are the numerous sailing anecdotes from his also in this respect plump life. Anyone who has experienced the times of the IOR formula and the beginnings of the maxi yachts, will recognize many things here, or maybe even get late insights.
After all, his life reflects the history of the yacht from the 1970s until today. As one of the key designers, Ron Holland has influenced the development of sailboats at this time, such as at most his friend and rival Doug Peterson, or somewhat later, his countryman Bruce Farr. Above all, it was Ron Holland and Doug Peterson who in the 1970s adopted the design scepter of the recognized greats, above all Olin Stephens.

Ron Holland has sailed almost everything, much of it designed himself, for famous people with whom he became a friend – Ted Heath, Rupert Murdoch, Prince Rainer of Monaco, Simon Le Bon, many others. A moving life in every way. Born and raised in New Zealand, he first lived in the US, then in Ireland for 40 years and now, for several years, in Vancouver. He has four daughters from two marriages and several grandchildren. He is still active as a designer and as a sailor (now for the pleasure, as he assures). Although he himself never attended a university, he was recently invited by the University of Auckland to help shape the new degree program “Master of Engineering Studies in Yacht Engineering” and also to give lectures there.

After all, even without a university degree or training, the yacht designer and sailor Ron Holland really has a lot of knowledge to pass on after 40 turbulent and mostly successful years. And, as can be seen from this book worth reading, there is a lot to tell!

Review of All The Oceans published in Magazine GOOSE, by Detlef Jens

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Amazon Customer Review

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

Ron Holland Celebrates Launch with a Difference

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.

Midwest Book Review on All The Oceans

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

Superyacht designer Ron came to Cork for one weekend, and stayed 40 years

From Afloat Magazine.

“IF you want to be famous in Ireland, beat the English.”

Ron Holland says that was his path to acceptance in Cork sailing circles which led to international fame as designer of the biggest superyachts in the world.

Originally from New Zealand, he came to Cork for a weekend and stayed for 40 years, becoming one of the world’s leading yacht designers based at Currabinny in Cork Harbour and Kinsale.

“Plain luck and grabbing an opportunity,” said Mr Holland. “Hugh Coveney and sailmaker John McWilliam invited me for a weekend in 1973, with an opportunity to do race boats for Hugh first of all and Archie O’Leary second. We took these boats – Golden Apple and Irish Mist – to race in England and beat the hell out of the English. So I became quite famous in Ireland in the ‘70s and that was fun.”

From quarter-ton yachts to the legendary Shamrocks built at Rochestown, to the 247- foot Mirabella V, then the world’s largest ever single-masted sailing yacht, his designs have led the world. He was back in Cork from Vancouver in Canada where he now lives, recalling a lifetime in sailing at talks in two yacht clubs – the Royal Cork in Crosshaven and Kinsale.

With students having finished their Leaving Certificate examinations and awaiting results he had a message for young people – ‘don’t fear educational failure.’

“For a kid that was not very good at school, in fact having failed high school exams twice, I am embarrassed to say, my message is not to be afraid of seeming to fail educationally, but be determined and grab opportunities when they come,” he said.

“Aged 16, failing high school exams for the second time, things weren’t looking very promising. People told me that I was going to be sweeping the streets. Obviously, I’m not going to be able to go to university if I can’t pass basic high school, but I’m winning yacht races at the weekends and got a job in a wooden boat building yard. That carried me forward. I grabbed the available opportunity and did the same when the opportunity came to come to Ireland.”

Ron Holland recounts the journey from his first sailing dinghy, a 7-footer in New Zealand, to the designing of superyachts in the 400 pages of his book, with 200 photographs, All the Oceans.

“I have a chapter entitled: ‘Just Say Yes’. If I was teaching a young person anything it would be to keep your eyes open for the opportunities, say ‘ yes’ and then figure out how to do it.

“Not much in my life was planned. I was saying ‘yes’ to the next opportunity.”

He followed that philosophy as boats got bigger.

With Volvo Cork Week to start on Sunday at the RCYC in Crosshaven just across the Owenabue River from where he had offices at Currabinny, he told me that he “did a yacht for the then boss of the Volvo car company” who helped him get into “computer-aided design” – which was a major step forward.

|We took advantage of the big yacht emergence in the 1980s and were leading the world in design from Ireland,” said Mr Holland.

In Vancouver, he teaches a course in Master Yacht Engineering.

“When my students figure out that I’m a failed high school student, they go – ‘how the hell are you teaching us?’ That gave me the motivation to write my story. I lived life bigger than I dreamed I could and I had pretty big dreams as a youngster.

“Taking the opportunities that came my way was the path to success. At 71 years of age I can look back with no regrets.”

A San Francisco television company is filming a documentary about his life and his book has been launched at locations around the world from New York to New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Tom MacSweeney, Maritime Cork