Remembering Colin Mudie
Yacht designer, author, naval historian, balloonist, and advocate for inclusive sailing.
Colin Mudie died on 11 March 2020 aged 93. He forged his reputation as an adventurer, long-time supporter of sail training with an unwavering dedication to designing some of the most impressive Tall Ships in the world.
Born in Edinburgh in 1926, Colin studied engineering at Southampton University before he served his design apprenticeship at The British Power Boat Company in Southampton. He secured work with Yacht designers Laurent Giles and Partners in Lymington, later setting up his own firm, according to Sail Training International.
A lifetime adventurer, Colin successfully completed a 1952 Atlantic crossing with Patrick Ellam in a 19-foot yacht Sopranino without radio or engine. Followed in 1958 by an attempt to cross the Atlantic again, but this time in the hydrogen balloon ‘Small World’, accompanied by his wife Rosemary, Bushy Eiloart and his son, Tim. After 94 hours aloft, the balloon crash landed and the remaining gondola (that was designed by Colin as a boat) sailed 1,500 miles to Barbados, arriving two weeks later.
Throughout his career, Colin was awarded a number of worldwide design commissions and accolades; in 1971 Colin won the Lloyd’s Register Award for best design and construction for Royalist, a 23-metre sail training brig for the British Sea Cadet Corps. During the 1980s, Colin designed a number of other Tall Ships including the 43-metre barque STS Lord Nelson, designed to enable accessible use for all abilities including wheelchair users, so that crew members could take part together in offshore sail training.
This resulted in Colin winning yet another award, this time from the British Design Council in 1993. His appointment as a Royal Designer for Industry in 1995 was a real testament to his skills and contribution to international design, Colin was also a fellow of the Royal Institute of Naval Architects, the Royal Institute of Navigation and the Royal Society of Arts.
“Colin has made an immense contribution to sail training and the Tall Ships Races for over six decades. Not only with his superb portfolio of specifically designed Tall Ships that are still sailing all over the world, but Colin was also the main naval architect on the board that developed our unique Rule of Rating that serves us so well to this day.
“He will be remembered by the international Tall Ships family with great fondness and his legacy will be with us for many decades to come,” says Paul Bishop, Head of Race Directorate, Sail Training International.
In 1987, Colin was commissioned to work on Young Endeavour, a 35-metre brigantine followed in 1989 by her sister ships KLD Tunas Samudera operated by the Malaysian Navy. Dunbrody, a 53.6-metre wooden barque, was followed in 1997 by INS Tarangini, an impressive sail training ship for the Indian Navy built by Goa shipyard. Tarangini was a sister ship to STS Lord Nelson but with an altered rig and differing layout, Colin was to also design her sister ship INS Sudarshini, again for the Indian Navy, which was unveiled to the world in 2011.
Colin epitomised the values of friendship and cultural understanding, having designed, commissioned and travelled on Tall Ships around the world. He leaves a lasting legacy for sail training and his work lives on.