ed dubois – the ior days

Shanghai Sailor brings us part one of an excellent story about designer Ed Dubois

With writing the piece about our time in China along with the Front Page posts on some of the great designs and designers of the IOR (International Offshore Rule) era I was reminded of the designer of our second quarter tonner, Ed Dubois. When I found the boat which didn’t even have the hole in the deck for the keel stepped mast I was kind of important that we got that in the right place so, guessing it was ‘one of his’ I emailed photos to his office. It was clear from the response that he was delighted one of ‘his lost children’ had turned up.

We requested details of where to make the vital cut led to one of his assistants informing us that a set of plans would cost GBP100. That’s a lot of money for a few sheets of A4 I thought but the boat was useless without it. What arrived was 16 sheets so big you cannot hold them up with outstretched arms – you could build a complete boat from them, the engineering is in there and everything.

She wasn’t the first Dubois design I have sailed as way back when (still in Scotland I had the regular use of a Westerly Griffon. She was a real wolf in sheep’s clothing as ostensibly a family cruiser she was remarkably both slippery in the light stuff yet could be driven hard in a blow. Our proudest moment was in the 35 strong Cruiser Class in the Forth Bridge Centenary Regatta we took her to a 1,1,2 score line – in the light she would just keep going, going, going. We had some serious fun in that boat both racing and cruising.

Those initial conversations with Ed back in 2007 led to a few meetings with him and apart from being a truly gifted designer he was one of the nicest people you could ever imagine meeting. Sadly he was taken from us a little over 4 years ago at just 63 years old.

Although I noted his passing I never put together his career history which is peppered with the names of some of the most successful boats in the racing world leading to some of the most beautiful superyachts still sailing today. In fact Ed did tell me once that he reckoned over Euro1 billion of his designs were sailing today which is a remarkable number.

I have pieced together bits and pieces Ed told me or wrote to me so it is in effect “Ed Dubois in his own words”. All I have done is changed where he used “I” to “he” so it is a ‘from the horses mouth’ as possible – quite a career and I am sure many will recognise many of the boats mentioned..

Like many people who are gifted at what they do he put some of his early successes down to luck. Graduating in 1974 he started working in Jersey for Alan Buchanan, and while there sailed with George Skelley, a Jersey restauranteur. Around that time he applied, and was accepted for a position at Sparkman & Stevens who Ed says were the best designers around at that time but the required work permit was going to take around 10 months to process and as Jersey was a small place to spend another 10 months in, he instead joined Yachts & Yachting as ‘Technical Editor’. As Ed said, not bad for a 22 year old.

Through the Y&Y editor he met ell known and accomplished British sailor, John Oakley (FD World Champion and world class big boat helm amongst other achievements) and sailed with him on the Bob Miller designed UK Admiral’s Cup yacht, Ceil V which was owned for a wealthy Hong Kong lawyer, Bill Turnbull. The green shoots of Ed’s connection with Hong Kong.

To be continued…