Tributes were pouring in after news that prolific yacht designer and “modest genius” David Thomas has passed away. Following a decade in the merchant navy and a decade as a yachting journalist, his first major design success – though not his first design – was the Elizabethan 31, originally drawn as a one-off job and finish. Long=standing friend and sailing journalist Peter Poland told ST that David was “a great guy. Sign me up to receive emails on the latest news, exclusive offers and competitions to your inbox. Family, friends & fans of David Thomas gather at the Royal Southern Yacht Club to pay homage to this most prolific of yacht designers David Thomas. The modest genius of David Thomas, arguably Britain's most prolific and influential yacht designer, was celebrated in style at a Royal Southern Yacht Club dinner packed with family, friends and many of those who have taken to the water in one of his boats. Variously described as the 'proxy uncle' to the 'great, bold and loonies' who go to sea, and the 'Pied Piper of yacht designers', David was lauded by numerous speakers for the immeasurable pleasure his many and various designs have provided over a career spanning half a century. The main speaker Peter Poland, a long-standing friend of David, built many of his designs as co-owner of Hunter Boats. Peter highlighted a number of David's innovative design features, including hull chines which have since become commonplace, and the sheer range of his yachts, from Sonata and Impala to the Sigma 33 and 38, and from the 707 to 67-foot round-the-world Challenge yachts.
Another collaborator, Jonty Sherwill, worked with David in the mid-80s on the interior design of the Sigma 362, Sigma 38 and other projects. Pressed on his favourite DT design, he added: "That's a tricky one, all of his boats have great character, but the one of his that caught my eye first was in the 1970s, the Impala. Celebrated solo racer Mike Golding highlighted the fact that he had sailed the 'wrong way' round the world three times in a Challenge 67, once single-handed. Sailors and admirers had come from far and wide to honour David, none more so than Runar Steinsen and friends who travelled from Iceland. Earlier on the Saturday, Chief Race Officer Tony Lovell had made the regrettable but necessary decision to cancel the day's planned racing due to the gale force winds.
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The Coast Guard cadets aren?t just getting eight new training sloops; they are getting eight offshore yachts from renowned designer David Pedrick and premier luxury yacht builder Morris Yachts. I suspect a non-sailor might regard the acquisition as frivolous, but the upgrade was long overdue. The Coast Guard Foundation?s board, Procurement Chairman Bob Hallock, past Board Chair Larry Glenn, and Foundation President Anne Brengle all worked tirelessly to launch the effort.
After reading about the details of the new boat (featured in the August issue of Practical Sailor), I couldn?t help but think that the eyes looking northward from Annapolis are a little greener these days .
I can certainly understand the need for recapitalizing the fleet of sail trainers both in the Navy and USCG programs. One of Britain’s most prolific yacht designers, David Thomas, made his name with classics such as the Impala, Elizabethan, Sonata, Hunter 707 and the Sigma range.
The Sigma 38 celebrated its Silver Jubilee in 2013- we take a look back at how David Thomson came to produce one the most popular One Design Racer Cruisers and the other popular designs he created.
David Thomas was born in 1932 and grew up in Eling on Southampton Water.  David sailed at Eling Sailing club from an early age, and when yacht sailing was banned during the Second World War raced a modified 9ft rowing clinker boat in races organised by the Club.
After the war, David Thomas and his father found a 12 foot Itchen Ferry Punt built at the Belvedere Yard on the River Itchen.
David Thomas worked as a production manager for sail maker Ratsey and Lapthorn, while designing boats in his spare time.  The success of his one off Quarter Tonner ‘Quarto’ led to the design of the National Sonata One Design, while the chance to design the Sigma 33 was a chance meeting with the Managing Director of Marine Projects at the Southampton boat show. After the success of these boats David Thomas decided to start his own design company David Thomas Yachts Ltd and penned many more successful yachts. It was decided that a set of One Design Rules should be formulated before the first boats were built or sailed. 1977 saw dramatic growth in Scotland and the South and East Coast of England, with 28 boats attending the National Championship held at Island Sailing Club in Cowes, the Sonata continued to dominate in open handicap events throughout the UK.

A windy and very rough Cowes Week saw the Sonatas fill, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th positions in the level rating system. The year ended with a panel of experts from the Sunday Times deciding that the Sonata was the best One Design Cruiser Racer of her size in the UK. Numbers passed the 300 mark by 1979 with 220 being sailed in the UK and by 1982 over 400 boats had been sold.  The Sonata attained National Stature from the RYA and provided the class with solid credentials for the future. Production ended in 1990 with 479 boats being produced by Hunter Boats.  Although production of the National Sonata has finished there is still an active class association with nearly 300 members. The initial design for the Impala 28 evolved as a direct result of the formation of the Offshore One Design Council in 1977. The Impala 28 was one of thirty designs submitted, of which three were given the support of the Council, with the Impala 28 being among the top three. You will regularly see them racing in IRC class 4 in major events like the Hamble Winter Series alongside other David Thomas designs like the Sigma 33 OOD, and Cowes Week. The Sigma range started after a chance meeting with the Managing Director of Marine Projects, David King, on the pontoon at the Southampton Boat Show. The prototype of the Sigma 33 proved that she was a worthy offshore racer when she emerged relatively unscathed for the 1979 Fastnet race. The Sigma 33 was built between 1979 and 1991 with 364 boats being built, 44 masthead versions with shallower draft called a 33C were also built.  A Sigma 33C won the double handed race in the 2011 Fastnet. In previous years the Sigma 33 enjoyed its own class start at most events on the South Coast, but with dwindling numbers they race in IRC class 4 are still capable of winning.  They still have their own class start for Cowes week, and large fleets of the Sigma 33 can still be found in Ireland and Scotland. The class association is still active and there are few boats of 33ft that can provide such enjoyable racing and sensible cruising. In 1985 the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Royal Thames Yacht Club agreed to sponsor a new One Design and commissioned top yacht designers, including Rob Humphries, Stephen Jones and David Thomas. Built by Marine projects in Plymouth with a sail wardrobe from North Sails the Sigma 38 became extremely popular, costing around 60,000 pounds plus VAT. The Sigma 38 is enjoying resurgence in popularity and in 2013 enjoyed its Silver Jubilee.  Round the Island 2012 saw 24 boats competing, making it the largest One Design in the race. The Sigma 38 still enjoys its own start in the Hamble Winter Series, Warsash Spring Series, and Cowes Week where you will normally find 10 – 12 boats competing each year. Although the Sigma 38 enjoys a thrash around the cans racing, the boat was built to race offshore, and more importantly look after her crew while doing it.
The Sigma 38 is always well represented in JOG and RORC races, with 11 boats competing in the 2011 Fastnet and 1st – 7th being separated by 1 hour and 18 minutes at the finish of the 608 mile race, showing the competitiveness of the Class. The Class is enjoyed by Club and National sailor alike and won the Yacht of the Year in 1996.  By 1999 the Class enjoyed the largest fleet in the Hamble Winter Series, with 40 boats entered.
The fleet currently has a good balance of core boats and a turnover of second hand boats bringing new people into the fleet. Major events and regattas such as Cowes Week, Cork Week, Round the Island Race as well as the Class Area and National Championships attract fleets of 45 boats or more. With sheet and other loadings less high than larger heavier boats, the boat is well suited to mixed-sex crews. ABOUT EQUINOX SAILING Equinox Sailing are a RYA Training Centre, running practical courses from our base on the River Hamble and theory courses in London. With its many harbours and marinas, the Solent offers a great mix of tactical and challenging conditions. It is with enormous sadness that Honor Dubois and the team at Dubois Naval Architects announce the death of Ed Dubois. Following a period of illness last year, Ed had been in better health and working as normal. From Westerlys to superyachts, with plenty in between, the career of designer Ed Dubois has been spectacular.
Ed grew up in a landlocked part of England but an innate love of the sea, sailing and yacht design meant his choice of career was set from early teens. Graduating in 1974, Ed worked for Alan Buchanan, naval architects in Jersey, for a year then left to design his first yacht, Borsalino Trois. Ed’s philosophy was to combine ultimate seaworthiness and excellent performance with imaginative space planning and beautifully proportioned, elegant lines.
Ed 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.
Ed told PBO contributor Peter K Poland: ‘Looking back on our favourite production boats, I guess one of them has to be the mighty Westerly Griffon. 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 five-page feature exploring the designs of Ed Dubois was published in the February 2016 issue of Practical Boat Owner magazine. Tributes paid to Mike Pocock, long-distance cruiser, yacht designer, and former OCC Commodore, who has passed away.
More than 7,000 visitors flocked to Beaulieu Boatjumble yesterday and left the Hampshire country estate laden with bargains.

Use the free weather tool for sailors offering real-time high resolution data in a six day forecast. He was the creative brains behind dozens of well known boats, including Elizabethans, the Sigmas, the Sonata, the Impala 28 and the Seaview Mermaid. His first boat was a 9ft dinghy in which he cruised Southampton Water and the Solent from his base in Eling Creek. Further designs went on to win a variety of prestigious events, such as the Gold Roman Bowl (for victory in the Round the Island Race) sealing David’s race-boat credentials.
Take the Hunter Channel 31: launched as a racy cruiser, it also has clear cruising credentials in its layout. He also raised the biggest laugh of the evening speculating on the 'number of babies made in the forepeak of a David Thomas yacht'. Do-it-yourself projects and reader feedback on a wide range of boats, marine manufacturers, and sailing products. For decades, the Coast Guard Academy has had a fleet of offshore yachts?five Luder yawls, built in 1963.
From a fiscal standpoint, maintaining a 30-year-old fleet begins to add up, and all of us benefit from the engineering and design work that goes into developing such a boat. Each of the custom-designed training vessel came in at around $800,000, about $500,000 cheaper than the new Pearson-built, Pedrick-desined Navy 44 MKIIs, which we reviewed in September 2009. Coast Guard Academy, managed the project, and his team of coaches and sail trainers also played a pivotal role in the design development process. David Thomas designed a new Gunter Rig for Heron11 and a Half Deck to make her more seaworthy for the voyages that were planned. This was duly done and an initial Steering Committee formed to see the Class through its formative months.
One Design classes were becoming a significant force in yachting with the National Sonata a familiar sight in most major events and because of its popularity, receiving their own Class starts in major events like Cowes Week and Round the Island.
In 1978 the Offshore One Design Council chose three boats to back as One Design boats of which the Sigma 33 was not one- but soon proved to be the most popular and out sold the chosen three.
The designers put forward proposals to some of the top yachtsmen of the day and the decision was made to adopt the design of David Thomas. Many changes, including introducing new sail makers, have been introduced to the rules to maintain the competitive nature of the fleet.
The attraction continues to be big fleets enjoying fast, exciting and very competitive one design racing. Following the racing success of this yacht, he went on to design many winners of the major offshore racing trophies around the world. He went on to produce a total of 17 different Westerlys until the firm’s regrettable meltdown in 2000. Peter Bolke, who is senior designer and has been a member of the Dubois team for 23 years, will become managing director with immediate effect. Known not only for his love of all things boat-related, but also music, art, travel and most of all his family and friends. This was followed by a 12 ft Itchen Ferry punt, which he paid for out of the winner’s purses he received when crewing on top 6 Metres. From there, he designed the famous Sigma range, of which more than 100 regularly compete in the Round the Island, as well as the well-known Sonata – his first design for Hunter Boats. These are the same lovely but outdated hulls that the Naval Academy weeded out of its own fleet in 1980.
Finally, the chance to sail a custom-built, state-of-the-art offshore sloop is a terrific recruitment tool.
And unlike the Navy boats, which went through the normal government procurement process, the Coast Guard's Leadership 44 came about as a result of a unique public-private partnership. Perhaps the wisest decision of all was to hire naval architect Pedrick as the designer of the new boat. He and his school friend cruised the boat round the Solent and won the Victory Regatta dinghy race in her at Dockhead in September 1945. There will be a memorial service, to which all are welcome, to celebrate his life and achievements in the near future. Ed leaves his darling wife Honor and four wonderful children, to whom he was completely devoted.
About 85 percent of the funding (all but $1 million) for the Leadership 44 acquisitions came from private donors through the Coast Guard Foundation, the Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association, and the Coast Guard Parents Association.
Large fleets were established in Scotland, Ireland, on the East Coast and particularly on the South Coast.

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