Tributes are pouring in for the UK's most prolific keel boat designer

influential yacht designer David Thomas has died aged 82.

Earlier this year, the Royal Southern Yacht Club hosted its first David
Thomas regatta in celebration of the yacht designer, who had been a member of the club for 25 years.

main speaker was PBO contributor Peter Poland, a long-standing friend of
David’s, who built many of his designs as co-owner of Hunter Boats. 

said: ‘David has an instinctive understanding of what sailors want – he has
been the Pied Piper of yacht designers, that’s his secret.

from all divisions of sailing have sailed out on a David Thomas design. They
will go on for ever.

is also responsible for the largest one-design fleet in Round the Island Race
history, 105 Sigma 33s, a record that will never be beaten.’

The Royal
London Yacht Club on Cowes, Isle of Wight also run an annual David Thomas-inspired regatta.

In a statement, David’s family said: ‘He will be remembered for creating some of the most popular keelboats of all time including the Sonata, Impala, Sigma 33, Sigma 38, Elizabethans and Hunters.
‘His talent knew no limits – the largest Thomas design was Atlantic Clipper, a sailing cargo ship, while the smallest, the Foxer dinghy, fielded a fleet of 58 boats in the recent Bart’s Bash event.
‘He will be sadly missed by his wife Trudi, sons Richard and Peter, and grandchildren David, Harry and Ed.
‘A funeral service will be held next week.’

Tributes are being made on the forum.

Tim Bennett said: ‘The UK’s most prolific (and probably the best), keel boat designer has died.
‘He had the knack of combining brilliant designs with an uncanny insight
into understanding what sailors really wanted from their boats.
‘And he was a nice guy. Sail on David.’

Forum user Doris wrote: ‘One of the greatest designers of all time and a smashing bloke as well.

‘It will be a long time before we see his like again.


On the Practical Boat Owner magazine Facebook page tributes continued:

Ian Wilson said: ‘Very sad. He joined us for racing on Talisman at Cowes week a couple
of times in the 80’s. A lovely guy, and the boat went faster with him on

Andy French said: ‘Very
sad. Many years ago I sailed with him and David Hopkins on
Creamcracker a Sigma 36. Sailing IOR it was very competitive against
stripped out boats. I have also sailed on many other Thomas designs.
Great designer and sailor. Best wishes to his family.’

Owen Woods said: ‘Very sad news. A great man.’

Richard Caves added: ‘Have sailed a few boats designed by him – fantastic boats, a sad day.’

Pictures: David Thomas. Credit: Michael Austen

David Thomas, his wife Trudi and sons Richard and Peter sailing the family
Sonata Piccolo in Cowes Week in late 70s. Credit: Peter Poland