Eight Bells: Ed Dubois

Published on March 28th, 2016

One of the world’s top yacht designers Ed Dubois, principal of one of the leading boatbuilders Dubois Naval Architects, has died died Thursday, March 24, 2016 at the age of 64. His legacy is the many fine and technically advanced yachts he designed, which now sail the world.

Born in London to a non-sailing family in 1952, Dubois began designing and building model yachts at an early age, sailing them on the pond in Kensington Gardens. He recalled being on a rented boat on a pond in Regent’s Park, and as a child understood the feeling of what he called “being propelled by the wind across the water”. The family later moved to Surrey.

Dubois trained as a naval architect at Southampton and went on to design several small yachts, making his mark with an offshore racer, Police Car, a 42ft craft that raced in the two-ton class, for Australian owner Peter Cantwell. She debuted in the 1979 Admiral’s Cup as part of a winning Australian team.

After that, Dubois was invited to design his first superyacht, the 37m sloop Aquel II, which was built in New Zealand. A long career in yacht design followed.

Before his death, Dubois was working on a yacht due for launch in spring next year: the 190ft Royal Huisman Ngoni, whose nickname inside the Dutch shipyard was “The Beast” due to her towering 233ft rig.

He also designed the highly successful and seaworthy Clipper 68s, the tough boats used by Clipper Ventures to take hundreds of rookie sailors with seasoned skippers round the world for four ocean races from 2005-12.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, founder and chairman of Clipper Race, said: “All in the Clipper family will be sad to hear of the death of Ed Dubois, the internationally renowned yacht designer. He designed the very successful Clipper 68s and all those who sailed in the 68s know how seaworthy the boats were and are. We extend our sympathies to his family and his team at Ed Dubois design.”

As well as sailing yachts, the company was renowned for many sail and motor-powered superyachts, such as the 152ft Feadship Kiss, launched last year.

Eddie Warden Owen, chief executive of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, said: “Police Car threw him into the yacht racing limelight which his upbringing and personality was more than equipped to enjoy and exploit so that throughout the 1980s he became one of the designers of choice for those who wanted to win the Admiral’s Cup.

“His design of Victory of Burnham for Peter de Savary, which was a team member in the British team that won the 1981 Admiral’s Cup, propelled Ed Dubois into the heady world of the America’s Cup, designing a 12 metre yacht for De Savary’s 1983 America’s Cup campaign.

“Not only was he a great designer but he was also a very competent sailor and enjoyed offshore racing. He oozed charisma and charm which those whom he met could not fail to enjoy. I will miss him and I know that all RORC members who will have met him will have good memories of a man who had time for everyone especially sailors.”

His company said that following a period of illness last year he had been in better health and had been working as normal until he was admitted to hospital last week. He died on Thursday.

The company added that the business would continue. Peter Bolke, who is senior designer and has been with the group for 23 years, has become managing director with immediate effect.

The company said: “With one of the industry’s most innovative 58m yachts currently in build and a number of similarly ambitious projects in the design stage, Ed left the business at an exciting moment in its development.

“Peter and his team will be supported by Ed’s great friends, Richard Cunningham and Andrew Prynne QC, Ed’s friend for 50 years.”

A regatta named after him is also part of his legacy. The two-day Dubois Cup, established in 2007, sees classic designs from the studio compete every two years.

Dubois was awarded an honorary doctorate in design by Southampton Solent University in 2004 and was a fellow of the Royal Institute of Naval Architects and Royal Academy of Engineering.

A lover of music, art and travel, Dubois leaves a wife, Honor, and four children. Funeral arrangements are still pending.

Source: Financial Times

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