EIGHT BELLS – Warwick Collins

Published on April 8th, 2013

It is with great sadness that I have heard that Warwick Collins, the author, screenwriter, inventor and yacht designer has passed away at 64 years (on Feb 10). Warwick wrote many excellent books and screenplays and designed a series of fine wood epoxy cruising boats and was, of course, the inventor of the tandem keel.

He was the main instigator of the British challenge for the 1987 America’s Cup in Fremantle, Australia. He persuaded Admiral Sir Ian Easton to use his contacts at British Aerospace to raise the required deposit at the eleventh hour, without which there would have been no challenge. The reins were later taken up by Harold Cudmore who persuaded Graham Walker to finance the challenge. Warwick bowed out fairly early on but by that time the challenge was well under way. However, without his foresight, belief and quick action there would have been no challenge.

I also owe him a huge debt of gratitude, as it was he, together with Ian, who had sufficient faith in my ideas and design skills to have me installed as one of the lead designers. It was my prediction of the winged keel for Peter de Savary’s previous challenge that persuaded them that I might just be the man to design a radical 12 Metre.

He was also a ready font of wisdom regarding the written word and I must have bored him silly with requests to check articles and important documents to make them read better or be more convincing, but he was never too busy to oblige. If I have any small literary talent it is largely due to his tutelage.

Like many strong characters, it was easy to fall out with Warwick and many did, including me. For many years we did not talk and Christmas cards were not returned. However, we eventually, about two years ago, got back on speaking terms and the last time we met was at a very pleasant lunch he had arranged in Lymington with Ian Williams to discuss the America’s Cup, a subject that was never far from his heart.

Andy Ash-Vie, who did the detail design work on Warwick’s cruising boats, and who must take a fair amount of credit for their success, once mentioned to me in conversation that, as if I didn’t already know, Warwick could be a very difficult character to work with. “Yes,” I said, “but the world would be a very much poorer place without him.” And now it is. – Dave Hollom.

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