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Ron Holland has Former Shipmate Johnny McWilliam to Help Him in Australian Launch of Memoirs

26th February 2018
Sailmaker Johnny McWilliam (left) and designer Ron Holland at yesterday’s Australian launch of Ron’s new book of memoirs at the Royal Yacht Cub of Victoria in Melbourne Sailmaker Johnny McWilliam (left) and designer Ron Holland at yesterday’s Australian launch of Ron’s new book of memoirs at the Royal Yacht Cub of Victoria in Melbourne

International yacht designer Ron Holland of New Zealand became renowned in 1973 when he won the Quarter Ton Worlds in England with the 24ft Eygthene, which he’d designed himself and then skippered to success writes W M Nixon. The first of hundreds of winning designs, the original Eyghthene is now lovingly-maintained and sailed in Poland, but Ron’s success has been such that today you’ll find Holland designs of all types and lengths up to super-mega-yacht size in every corner of the world where special boats gather.

Ron’s own career saw him based for many year in the Cork area, first in Crosshaven and then in Kinsale, while more recently he has operated his worldwide design business from Vancouver in Western Canada. It has been a long and complex story, involving many remarkable people and hundreds of fabulous boats - it would take a book to do it justice. So most appropriately, the man himself has been giving some time in recent years to put his multiple memoirs in order, and they recently appeared in book form: All The Oceans, intriguingly sub-titled “Designing by the Seat of My Pants”.

eyghthene in poland2The successful little boat which started it all - the 24ft Eyghthene of 1973 is these days lovingly maintained and sailed in Poland 

It’s intriguing because Ron and his notable team were pioneers in the use of Computer-Aided Design (CAD), yet despite that use of the latest technology, you can nearly always tell a Ron Holland design by some sixth sense. Like all great designers, he has his own individual trademark style which shines through the potentially anonymising effects of computers.

He also realises that even the most modern methods of communication cannot match the effectiveness of personal contact, so he is launching the book in a several-months-long tour for a series of events at global venues which reflect the extraordinary and peripatetic nature of his career. It began last month at the Royal Akarana YC in New Zealand, and yesterday it was the turn of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.

Being Australia, Ron was able to produce a secret weapon. In his early time in Crosshaven, much of his work was done in close collaboration with sailmaker Johnnny McWilliam. These days, however, Johnny’s great passion is gliding, in which he is skilled beyond international standards - before becoming a sailmaker, he was a jet fighter pilot. And as he likes to be able to go gliding on a year-round basis, Johnny spends the northern winters in Australia. So there he was, ready and willing to join Ron Holland in launching All the Oceans in the RYCV yesterday. As for the Irish launch, the word is that it is currently pencilled in for June.

perini navi seven3The kind of design Ron Holland is now most closely associated with – the Perini Navi Seven

Published in Book Review Team

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