The world has lost another of its great yacht designers with the passing of Ed Dubois, which was announced over the Easter weekend.
London-born Ed Dubois died suddenly on March 25, 2016 at the age of 64. A statement by his company, Dubois Naval Architects, explained that following a period of illness last year, Ed had been in better health and working as normal. He was admitted to hospital unexpectedly last week and sadly died on Thursday.
Born to a non-sailing family, Ed Dubois grew up in Surrey, but an innate love of the sea, sailing and yacht design meant his choice of career was set from early teens.
Ed trained as a naval architect in Southampton, and after his graduation in 1974, he worked for Alan Buchanan, naval architects in Jersey, for a year before leaving to design his first yacht, Borsalino Trois. Following the racing success of this yacht, he went on to design many winners of major offshore racing trophies around the world.
Ed’s career spanned decades and his passion, commitment to his work and love of his clients created a unique business, Dubois Naval Architects, which aimed to "create the most breathtakingly beautiful and technically advanced yachts." There are many examples of these yachts now scattered across the globe, which serve as testament to his talent and success. Designs range from the yachts competing in the Clipper Round the World Race, to beauties such as Oyster's 125 (see Oyster 125: innovative and impressive), in fact two Dubois designs featured in YachtWorld's feature on the world's 10 sexiest yachts (see Sexiest sailing yachts). Also see our feature 12 great Dybois designs.
Ed 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.
Remembering Ed Dubois
Tributes to Ed Dubois have poured in from across the yachting and design world since the announcement of his death. His reach was wide and his life touched many. Dominion Marine Media President Ian Atkins shares his own memories of the iconic designer.
"My first encounter with Ed - or rather one of his designs - was way back in 1977. He was trialling the new three-quarter tonner Borsalino Trois, with George Skelley, one of his early owner/supporters and I was sailing on the Ron Holland designed Mezzanine. I also remember bumping into him after we had both finished the 1979 Fastnet race - he was sailing on his first real success, the 2 Tonner Police Car, a member of the Admiral’s Cup winning Australian team. He was clearly delighted by the results but like all of us traumatised by the loss of life.
“Fast forward to the late '90s and I was lucky enough to get the chance to work with Ed and his team on a new entry level boat for Westerly, one of the last British sailboat builders. Ed had designed a number of very successful new Westerlys in the '80s and when I joined the company it was clear we needed Ed’s vision again to try and modernise the ageing product range.
“The result was the Ocean 33, which sold in such significant numbers that we needed two versions at the 1999 and 2000 London Boat Shows, in order to give everyone a chance to get onboard. Like many of Ed’s cruising designs the boat was safe and fast to sail - so much so that I persuaded him to design the ‘GT’ version, the GK 33 which won a few races at Cowes Week in 1999.
“Ed was a pleasure to work with. Professional, friendly and with a great team around him who always kept their commitment to us as a business partner. We became good friends and continued to bump into each other at boating events around the world. I last chatted with him at the Motor Boat of the year awards in January this year and his enthusiasm for our sport was clearly undiminished.
“Like so many others, I will remember Ed with respect and fondness, and we will all mourn not only a great innovator, but most importantly a genuinely nice guy.”
The future of Dubois Naval Architects
Although created by Ed, Dubois Naval Architects has always been underpinned by a talented team of naval architects. Ed's legacy and his business will continue, with the announcement that Senior Designer Peter Bolke, who has been a valued member of the Dubois team for 23 years, will become Managing Director with immediate effect.
The company stated that: "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."
The yacht referred to is the 58m Royal Huisman superyacht Ngoni, which is due to launch next spring.
The company's statement concluded: "Ed Dubois was a huge talent, and his legacy will continue as one of the world’s great yacht designers. Known not only for his love of all things boat-related but also music, art, travel and most of all his family and friends. Ed leaves his darling wife Honor and four wonderful children, to whom he was completely devoted."
The funeral will be a private service for family only, but a memorial service to celebrate his life is planned with the date yet to be announced.