Yacht Designer Naval Architicht Ron Holland portrait with CAD drawing of General Arrangement for superyacht in development

“I wake up sometimes and think ‘I can’t believe this is my life’. I love what I do. There is nothing better.”   Ron Holland


Born in Auckland, New Zealand, Ron Holland became enchanted with sailing at an early age. Ron’s father bought him a sailing dinghy for his 7th birthday. Ron recalls feeling upset because he really wanted a rowing dinghy, not a sailing dinghy, as he was afraid it would tip over. Sure enough, on their first trip out the boat capsized, and a local fisherman picked up a terrified Ron and brought him to shore.

“That little ‘P’ class dinghy was the same kind that all the Olympians and world-class New Zealand yachtsmen of that generation started out on. It was a famous little boat!” A year later Ron and his family moved to the east coast where he developed an almost feverish passion for sailing and became immersed in the local sailing community.


By age 13, Ron was a well-known crew member of several successful racing yachts. At age 15, he had the opportunity crew the 36-foot ketch “Aloha“, sailing from Auckland to Sydney: 1,000 miles across the unpredictable Tasman Sea.

He obtained an apprenticeship with boat builder Keith Atkinson that included classes at Auckland Technical Institute. Two teachers, Peter Peal and Allan Wright, recognized his drawing and designing abilities. With their support and encouragement, Ron’s focus shifted from boat building to designing.

At 19, Ron received his first commission to design a 26-foot yacht, “White Rabbit“, and the ensuing success led to further commissions in Auckland.

In 1968, at age 21, Ron was invited to San Francisco where he worked as a Design Draftsman with celebrated American yacht designer, Gary Mull. He was introduced to some of the top sailors in California and began crewing with some of the world’s most competitive international sailors.

“In those days racing was my obsession. I always had the next regatta in mind.”

Racing became second nature to Ron. He designed and built his own Quarter Tonner – “Eygthene“, with which he won the USA Quarter-Ton Regatta in St. Petersburg, Florida, earning the opportunity to enter – and win! – the World Championship Quarter-Ton Cup in England in 1973. As word of his design skills spread, an Irish yachtsman sought out Ron to design “Golden Apple“. This led him to open Ron Holland Design studio in County Cork, Ireland in 1974.

Ron Holland of Ron Holland Design at the launch of sailing yacht "Golden Shamrock" lead photo for news article
1974 Launching "Golden Shamrock"


Ron’s innovative designs have repeatedly shaken up the yacht racing world. Ron Holland Design became one of the world’s leading yacht designers and the creator of a new generation of custom 100ft (30 metre)-plus performance superyachts in the early 1980’s.

A working relationship developed between Ron Holland and Perini Navi during the design and construction of the 64 metre (210 ft) ketch “Felicita West”: at the time, the largest aluminum yacht ever to be built. This construction  commenced in 1998 with the yacht launching early 2003 in Viareggio, Italy. Giancarlo Ragnetti, managing Perini Navi, oversaw a series of 56-metre yachts with ten of these design collaborations launched. This led to a Ron Holland Design – Perini Navi Design collaboration, delivering 23 yachts to date with a 60-metre ketch presently under construction at the Viareggio shipyard.

In 2018 Ron Holland published his memoir: All The Oceans. Ron gave over 50 promotional presentations including Vancouver, BC, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. During the Monaco Yacht Show, Ron held a book launch reception aboard “Perseus^3″: a Ron Holland – Perini Navi 60-metre sloop. USA events included Chicago and stops on both coasts, followed by presentations in England and Ireland; an opportunity to reconnect with lifetime friends and crewmates who contribute to the story.

The latest Ron Holland Design in development is a 42-metre schooner for long-time sailing yacht clients. Combining classic rig elements with state of the art design and construction, it truly is a yacht for all seasons.

For Ron, that’s the joy of it: to take a paper sketch and turn it into a luxurious, high performance work of nautical art. Ron’s commitment pays off at that exquisite moment when his latest design first hits the water.

Ron has created some of the fastest, most luxurious, award winning sailing yachts afloat – his studio has also designed several significant ocean voyaging motor yachts, combining modern technologies with tradition.

One of Ron Holland Design’s Motor Yachts is the 45-metre “Dorothea III”. With extensive ocean passages across both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans to her credit, this design has proven to be safe, comfortable and highly efficient. In 2020, “Dorothea III” won the Boat International Media’s “Voyager’s Award”.

In 2020, Ron celebrated over 45 years with  Ron Holland Design, during which time the industry has changed immensely. Ron strives to stay ahead of the design curve: he is always looking for the latest innovations to improve his clients’ yachting experience and life on the water.