It is with enormous sadness that Honor Dubois and the team at Dubois Naval Architects announce the death of Ed Dubois.
Following a period of illness last year, Ed had been in better health and working as normal.
Unexpectedly he was admitted to hospital last week and sadly died on Thursday, 24 March.
A spokesman for Dubois Naval Architects said: ‘Ed’s career spanned decades and his passion, commitment to his work and love of his clients created a unique business, driven by exceptional design and technical talent and a genuine desire to create the most beautiful and technically advanced yachts; now scattered across the globe.’
From Westerlys to superyachts, with plenty in between, the career of designer Ed Dubois has been spectacular.
Ed grew up in a landlocked part of England but an innate love of the sea, sailing and yacht design meant his choice of career was set from early teens.
Graduating in 1974, Ed worked for Alan Buchanan, naval architects in Jersey, for a year then left to design his first yacht, Borsalino Trois. Following the racing success of this yacht, he went on to design many winners of the major offshore racing trophies around the world.
Ed’s philosophy was to combine ultimate seaworthiness and excellent performance with imaginative space planning and beautifully proportioned, elegant lines. He sailed on many of his racing designs through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
Ed 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.
Ed told PBO contributor Peter K Poland: ‘Looking back on our favourite production boats, I guess one of them has to be the mighty Westerly Griffon.
‘For a start, it was a big break for me – aged just 26 – to get into the mass-produced market with the blessing of the then-important Westerly company and its MD David Sanders.
‘David is a charming man, and it was a great leap of faith to give me the new design contract.
‘Being chosen by David and Westerly made this a happy period; and the Griffon was a great success.
‘While perhaps a little stubby in appearance, I think the proportions (for what she is) still look pretty good – vertical transom-hung rudder and all. She does the job she was called to do very well. And she sails well!’
Tribute from the Westerly Owners’ Association
WOA spokesman John Ruskin said: ‘Ed Dubois made a huge contribution to the burgeoning success of Westerly yachtbuilding from the 1980’s onwards.
‘He was the company’s designer of choice to move Westerlys into a more modern market when the time came to replace the biggest-selling British yacht ever built – the Centaur.
‘Unfazed by the size of the challenge he produced the 26ft Griffon, soon a considerable success that paved the way for the equally well-liked 32ft Fulmar, one of his personal favourites. He went on to produce a total of 17 different Westerlys until the firm’s regrettable meltdown in 2000.
‘Although he progressed eventually to superyacht design and moved to a quite different level, he still occasionally recalled his earlier days at the Westerly drawing board that produced for him well-deserved recognition all around the globe.
‘Many are the owners of Dubois designed boats large and small who will feel the sailing world has just lost one of its best-loved marks.’
Dubois Naval Architects
The Dubois Naval Architects business Ed created will continue. Peter Bolke, who is senior designer and has been a member of the Dubois team for 23 years, will become managing director with immediate effect. Peter will be supported by the rest of the Dubois team.
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 funeral of Edward Dubois is due to take place this week. It is to be a private, family service. There will be a memorial service, to which all are welcome, to celebrate his life and achievements in the near future.
The spokesman added: ‘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.
‘We would respectfully ask that any enquiries regarding this news is made via email over the next few days to allow Ed’s family and team to adjust to the news.
‘Please direct any enquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org‘
A five-page feature exploring the designs of Ed Dubois was published in the February 2016 issue of Practical Boat Owner magazine. It’s published online here.
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