by Bob Wonders
Superyacht 'guru' Ron Holland held the crowd spellbound at the Southport Yacht Club's Marine Industry Luncheon. - Ron Holland
Internationally renowned superyacht designer Ron Holland could easily find a job promoting the Queensland Gold Coast after stating it was simply a matter of informing the world of its 'natural beauty'.
'Most superyacht owners tend to cruise the Mediterranean and Caribbean waters, but they are looking for alternative areas and this is a great opportunity to promote this wonderful Gold Coast region,' he added.
Ron Holland was speaking to a group of marine industry professionals at the annual Marine Industry Luncheon held at the Southport Yacht Club.
He is in Australia as a guest of Superyacht Base Australia and will be attending the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show (May 19-22).
Although Ron made his reputation designing sailboats, these days he makes his money designing powerboats.
However, it should be pointed out that when Ron Holland says 'powerboats' he means $10 million-plus motor yachts!
According to Ron, the superyacht industry was severely battered during the global financial ‘meltdown’, which he said had produced 'very testing times' for the world’s ship builders.
However, he believes the superyacht industry is beginning to rebound.
'My company is certainly engaged in more projects now than it was, say, six months ago,' he said.
The Auckland-born, Ireland-based designer has been responsible for some of the world’s most astonishing vessels, among them ‘Mirabella V’, a massive 75-metre (247ft) creation that is recognised as the largest, single-masted sailboat in the world.
Another of his world-renowned designs is ‘Marco Polo’, a 45-metre (147ft) trans-oceanic motor yacht.
Always a man before his time, Ron Holland some 25-years ago was responsible for the design of the maxi yacht ‘Condor’, at the time acknowledged as the most technologically advanced racing yacht in the world.
World championships, numerous classic offshore races, including the Sydney-Hobart and Fastnet races, have all been run and won with Ron Holland designs.
The 64-year-old designer certainly started young; he began competitive sailing when 8-years-old and designed his first sailboat when just 19-years-old.
Now I hope none of our New Zealand readers will take me to task on this, but in 1973 Ron designed a boat which went on to win the Quarter Ton Cup; the boat’s name was ‘Eyghtene’, a pun on the alleged New Zealand pronunciation of ‘eighteen.’
The success of this vessel was the catalyst that led Ron Holland to establish his design studio in Ireland.
A prominent Irish businessman, Hugh Coveney, commissioned Ron Holland to design a One-Ton Class yacht; it was christened ‘Golden Apple’ and enjoyed considerable success.
Ron’s clients obviously liked precious metals; ‘Golden Apple’ was followed by ‘Golden Leprechain’, ‘Silver Shamrock’ and Golden Delicious’.
For a dash of history that many Australian yachtsmen will relate to, one of Ron Holland’s designs, for the English firm Camper and Nicholson, is still recognised today as the Nicholson 33, often seen on local waterways.
Former English Prime Minister, Edward Heath, was another to call on Ron Holland’s expertise for his vessel ‘Morning Cloud’, while other Holland creations well known in Australia include maxi Sydney-Hobart veterans ‘Kialoa’ and ‘Condor’.
The Ron Holland story could fill a book (it quite possible has), but it’s far from over.
Ron has no intentions of sitting back and superyacht fans worldwide can count on more amazing vessels to hail from the Ron Holland drawing board.