Brian Cole

Ode by Frank Stuyck


Brian Cole, Brian Cole,
the man with a sailors soul.
Today you have gone,
in the way that was your goal.

A mentor to many,
you turned over every penny.
Often first over the finish line,
then to celebrate with a bottle of red wine.

You could be obstinate as a mule,
at the same time tolerant,
you were a real jewel.

Few do know,
the seeds for sailing you did sow.
You gave new sailors your knowledge and time,
never asking anything in return, not a dime.

You were competitive and loved to race,
but if you didn’t win, you lost with grace.
We will miss you Brian,
you were a real ace!

You have struck the inevitable reef,
we’re here with Marion and Peppi.
To share in their grief.

Goodbye my friend,
Rest in Peace.

Frank Stuyck
2 July 2015


This article is a tribute to BRIAN COLE he is the oldest Holiday 23 owner, I know of and who still sails his boat regularly.

In December 1993, when I was looking for a Holiday 23 to buy, I was immediately without hesitation referred to Brian Cole he was Mr Holiday 23 and what is more he could refer me to my boat’s previous owner. Since then with every Holiday 23 regatta, worlds or West Coast Cruise which I attended he was always there with his Holiday 23.

Brian Cole was born on 15th December 1932, 75 years old, going for 76 and still sailing very competitively. Brian is my idol, I hope to when I reach his age still be able to sail.

On the 26th June 2009 I visited him and his famous wife, Marion, who is also a very keen sailor, she skippered a all women crew in the Cape to Rio Race a few years ago. Brian and Marion are well known in the sailing community, they were for many years actively involved at North Sails, Royal Cape Yacht Club and keen sailors for many years.

Brian bought his first boat a Flamenca in 1974 which he named “Lucky” His second boat, a Spirit 28 was named “Lucky Too” Boat number three was a Half Tonner and was named “Lucky Tree”

Brian took part in many regattas and Lucky Tree was not to be very 'lucky'. He was leading in the Mainstay regatta in Durban when surfing down a wave the bow broke. They were fortunate not to have sunk and could limp back to the harbour. His misfortune continued when the insurance company repudiated his claim. After this unfortunate incident he bought a quarter tonner Royal Flush which he then sold in 1988.

Then he bought a “genuine yacht” Morning Wings sail no 18. “Morning Wings” was the first Holiday 23 John Robertson Yachts built with the roof liner which made a huge contribution to the fine interior appearance of these fantastic little boats.

Brian and Marion are heart over heels in love with Port Owen for many years and the Holiday 23 was just the right boat for the weekend and holiday breakaways. They have retired now and have a lovely house with a uncluttered view on the river next to the estuary.

Though “Morning Wings” was bought for the extra space she had to offer, Brian’s love for racing did not deter him from using Morning Wings to enter in many races and continued to do so for many years and racing very competitively. He found the Holiday 23, which was designed to be a family trailer sailer, to be a very good racer. The keel was designed to be pulled up without intruding the saloon area which was according to Brian a very “lucky mistake”. The keel had to have the right amount of ballast and there, a racing keel with a narrow chord and bulb was designed.

In the Rothman’s week regatta in 1995 he won line honours in Class II in the long distance race. He sailed in several Club Mykonos offshore races, took part in many West Coast cruises and other regattas and never saw a holiday 23 capsized but saw a few L26’es and others that did.

In 1990 he took part in his first West Coast cruise with Morning Wings and sailing back from Lambert’s bay to Port Owen they had to beat against a 35knot South Easter. The Holiday 23 is standard equipped with a genoa, working jib and storm jib. The worker was too big and the storm jib too small. Being with North Sails at that time he then designed the No 4 jib and ‘whalla’, what a lovely sail to have when you are in strong winds. If you do not have a No 4 get one, you are going to need it one day.

After many regattas and hard sailing in 2002 his mast decided to retire. The Holiday 23 section is no longer available and he had to change to the L26 section.


  • On the Vaaldam or somewhere inland a Holiday 23 sunk in the marina with 22 people on board. (That’s what happen if you use your Holiday 23 as a ‘Gin Palace”)
  • While trailored a Holiday 23 got stuck under a bridge and lost it’s coach roof. Fortunately the factory was still up and running and could repair it.
  • He remembers the trips up the Berg River from Port Owen in which up to 30 boats entered. In one of these Holiday 23 Worlds one of the boats, after sailing under the bridge lifted it’s mast to soon and touched the overhead electrical wires. The whole town was without electricity for a very many hours. Luckily this Holiday 23 had a safety chain on the keel and not a safety rope which saved lives on board.

The reason for the dwindling entries are, according to Brian and his wife, the many regattas that started to emerge then. Well known sailors took part in the Holiday 23 Worlds but they moved on to more competitive regattas.


Three years ago Brian decided to go the inboard engine route. “The outboard engine started to get a bit heavy” he said. He bought a second hand 9 horse power single piston Yanmar engine with sail drive. To reduce water drag he installed a Gori two bladed folding prop and converted one of his old 25 liter petrol cans to a diesel tank.

Some interesting facts:

In light airs on a broad reach a Holiday 23 with similar size sails will slowly gain on him but in stronger winds he founds no difference.

Mornings Wings is the third Holiday 23 he knows of who has an inboard engine.

Handling improved considerably in closed quarters having prop wash on the radar blade

After 3 years and many hours no structural damage or cracks.

At 2500 rpm the engine consumes approximately a half a liter diesel per hour!!!! 

Inside engine cover donated by Jannie Els. 


R10000 for the used engine and sail drive.

R10000 to overhaul the engine.

R6000 for two bladed Gory prop

±R7000 labour


Same power as an outboard.

Can motor sail against the wind without the engine lifting out of the water on a starboard tack.


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