Yacht designer Raymond Wall passed away in November at the age of 91 after a long and illustrious career
After serving his apprenticeship with Robert Clark, Raymond Wall set up his own design business in the late 1950s, first in London and then in Fambridge. His first design was the 26ft sloop Tomahawk which was built in 1960 by Colne Marine in Wivenhoe, as were many of his early designs. “It became his home from home,” said his wife Pauline.
In 1967, he went to work for Camper & Nicholsons as head designer. “I wanted to get somebody in who had design flair, and I had seen some very attractive boats of his that I liked,” said Peter Nicholson, chairman of C&N at the time.
Ray was then responsible for a number of successful production yachts and one-off racing boats. The famous racing yachts included La Meloria, C&N’s first design with the rudder separated from the keel and winner of the Two Ton Cup, and Phantom which won both the Britannia Cup and the New York Yacht Club Cup in 1968 and was part of the British Admiral’s Cup team in 1969.
Wall’s first GRP production boats for C&N was the Nicholson 43, which was named Boat of the Show at the 1969 London Boat Show. This success was followed by the Nicholson 55 (a development of Phantom) 25 of which were built, seven as sail training boats for the Ministry of Defence.
The second of the series Lutine was owned by Lloyd’s of London and another Nicholson 55 Adventure was built for the Royal Naval Sailing Association and competed in the 1973-74 Whitbread Round the World Race, winning the first leg and taking second place overall.
Other Nicholson series included: the 35 (228 built), 46, 45, 48, 30 (one of which was the top British boat at the Half Ton Cup in 1974), 42, 44, 31, 39 and the 70.
In 1977 Ray left C&N and emigrated to Canada where he went to work for Canadian Sailcraft in Toronto. While there he designed the CS27, 36 and 33 before moving to Vancouver in 1983 to form his own company, Quanta Yachts.
He designed the Quanta 28, of which the company built 12 before closing just two years later after signs of improving economic times came to nothing. “We decided to close shop while we were still solvent,” Ray wrote later. “I am so glad we did. It was a great run and the better built boats will enable the real sailors to sail and cruise for many years to come.” His wife Pauline added: “Ray never stopped designing – one especially, the ultimate cruising boat for himself – but nothing further was built.”
“Ray was a very personable chap and became friends with all our colleagues very quickly,” Peter Nicholson said recently, and other former C&N colleagues have been equally complimentary: “he was a very calm and pleasant man”, “a most personable character and an absolute gentleman”, “a very enthusiastic chap and easy to talk to about all things nautical”, “working with him was an enjoyable and educational experience for a twenty-something young would-be designer” and “a charming gentleman, an accomplished naval architect with a patience and kindness to help those who wished to learn”.
As well as Pauline, Ray leaves his sons Peter and Guy and a granddaughter
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