Does any onr emwmber Kim Holman and his Merlin Rocket "Pink Gin"?
Kim Holman, who has died aged 81, was a world-renowned yacht designer with a prodigious output; after designing his first 20-footer in 1955, he produced plans for countless boats, some
of which are still being made to his
Holman's philosophy was straightforward: he did
not believe in extremes. Grace, and a rising fore
and aft sheer, were his hallmarks.
Christopher Rushbroke Holman (always known as Kim)was born on January 18 1925 at Carbis Bay,
Cornwall, and educated at Sherborne. His father
was an athlete as well as a businessman.
During the war Holman joined the Royal Navy, and
sailed 32-ft cutters full of raw young trainees the choppy waters of Harwich harbour while
stationed at HMS Ganges. This was followed by a
spell in the Mediterranean, where he obtained his
watch-keeping certificate; he returned to Britain
and, working on the Humber, became the youngest
officer to run a minesweeper.
After demobalisation sation Holman went to Bristol University, where he "didn't get a degree but did learn to drink and have fun". In 1950 he joined the yacht designer Jack Francis-Jones at
Waldringfield, Suffolk, to learn his new
profession. He quickly became a life-long friend
of the yachtsman and skipper Michael Spear and a
regular crew in his highly successful Brambling,
winning most of the east coast Blue Riband races.
He also raced a Merlin Rocket named Pink Gin.
In 1955 Holman designed himself a 20-ft sloop,
Phialle, specifically to win the Pattinson Cup at
the 1956 Burnham Week Regatta, which she did by a
large margin. Later in the season she went on to
win the Harwich to Ostend race.
In 1957, having moved to Firs Chase, West Mersea,
he bought a share in Gowens, the West Mersea
sailmaker, and set about designing one of his most famous boats, the 35-ft yawl Rummer, of which several clones were built.In 1964 Don Pye joined forces with Holman, becoming a full partner in 1968. Holman went on to
develop, among many others, the 26-ft Nymphet
(more commonly referred to as the Holman 26), and
the hugely successful Twister - which Pye
successfully adapted for GRP construction - the
Elizabethan 29 and 35, the Victorian, Bowman 36,
Centurion and Hustler 25.5, 30 and 35.
Holman's interests away from the drawing board
were wide; he was a founder-director of Suffolk
Yacht Harbour, one of the largest and
best-equipped all-tide marinas on the east coast.
After several years in London, he moved back to
his beloved east coast, settling at Powers End,
Witham, Essex, with his companion Jim Mignotte.
He was a member of West Mersea Yacht Club, Haven
Ports Yacht club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club
Holman always said when buying a new boat: "Never
compromise or economise on the hull and deck."
Kim Holman, who died on April 8, was a kindly man
who loved chamber music, was an astute collector
of antiques and had a sharp eye for real value
when it came to paintings.
Posted: 14/07/2006 13:08:45