Sheikhs and princes bought Chris's designs

PUBLISHED: 01:01 24 January 2008 | UPDATED: 08:47 10 June 2010

POWERBOAT enthusiasts are mourning the loss of innovative and world renowned international boat designer and builder Christopher Tremlett, of Budleigh Salterton, who died at home after a long battle with cancer. Chris was born in Beaworthy, North Devon, i

POWERBOAT enthusiasts are mourning the loss of innovative and world renowned international boat designer and builder Christopher Tremlett, of Budleigh Salterton, who died at home after a long battle with cancer.Chris was born in Beaworthy, North Devon, in May 1936, where the church bells throughout the village were rung to announce his arrival into the world.He spent most of his time growing up in Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton where his passion for boats and the sea grew until, aged 13, he built his first pram dinghy in his parents' garage.It was from the Exe Sailing Club that Chris also took up water skiing - a self taught skill - and raced his International 14 sailing dinghy.Chris's love of water skiing, and desire to be top of his sport, prompted him to build a speed boat specially designed for the activity and create a range of water skis.Soon his boat designs were popular with offshore racers. Such was his reputation that anyone in the 1970s who did not have a Tremlett boat was deemed to have no chance of winning a race.He used his own unique methods to produce mahogany veneer boat hulls, later turning to glass fibre to create his popular designs - which included the 21 Sportsman which can still be seen on the Exe today. In the '70s Chris forged links with Mauritius, where a boatyard began making Tremlett designs under license - such was their popularity that an offshore boat still bears the name today. Four years ago Chris started his own boatyard there and was just getting into production when he was forced to abandon his plans when he was diagnosed with cancer.From his boatyard on the outskirts of Topsham, Chris's strong seaworthy designs, pleasure and commercial craft, were popular across the world.Sheikhs and Nigerian princes were known to arrive by helicopter at the Odhams Wharf boatyard to own one of Chris's designs.At one time the firm employed 50 people, often working through the night to meet delivery deadlines or to display craft at the Boat Show.His wife Diana said her husband was a 'perfect gentleman and action man': "People used to ask me if our life was like Howard's Way. I used to say 'no, it's much more exciting!'"Such was Chris's dedication to boat design that he had just completed a prototype for a motor sailor when he became ill.Ed Williams-Hawkes, of Riversmeet, Topsham, said Chris's iconic Tremlett 21 and Seashell will live on as eye catching, innovative and durable craft.Innovations from Tremlett's Odhams Wharf Yard included the first racing hydrofoil boat ('Daddy Long Legs' 1969) and the first offshore race boat with surface piercing supercavitating drives (Nathan Barkwill's world record breaking 'Sandy Bay Girl' 1974).He said: "Tremlett boats' sea-keeping qualities are legendary and they were used in many parts of the world from the Royal Marines to harbour masters, police, racers and many happy owners of recreational sport and ski craft."Away from boatbuilding, Chris enjoyed snow skiing, a self taught hobby which went on to see him as a fearless giant slalom competitor for Great Britain.He also learned to fly and went solo in under five hours - later buying a plane for him and Diana to fly all over Europe visiting customers.Chris was married to Diana for 43 years. He also leaves a daughter, Katie, son Mark and five grandchildren, William, Ben, Luke, Hattie and Lola. A memorial service to celebrate Chris Tremlett's life will be announced later.

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