Dan ‘Buster’ Hollands
(Hythe’s own Barnes-Wallis)
Speed is nothing without control
Explosive things happen around Dan. With an emphasis on ‘max’, Dan is the living example of the maxim that speed is nothing without control. From knee-high Dan has been driven by a need for speed and combines an engineering genius with a keen competitive edge. There is no recklessness, his brain is constantly problem solving. His approach is scientific. It is no surprise that he is an aerospace engineer currently specialising in jet ‘target’ drones. He is a latter-day Barnes-Wallis who would be quite happy busting dams if it were not a waste of good sailing space.
Dan is very much the local sailing hero. Brought up in Lympne (itself a former port!), he was educated at The Harvey Grammar School and joined the 19th Folkestone Sea Scouts at age 9. He learned to sail on Toppers, Pacers and Magnos at the Redoubt. He loved the camaraderie of sailing with friends and although highly competitive thrives in boat partnerships. With an intuitive feel for wind induced power, torque, moments and meteorology, sailing is a sport that comes to him naturally.
In 2004 a Lympne neighbour who was also friends with Kent sailing aficionado, Graeme Fuller, introduced Dan to HSSC. He started crewing for other members including Jeremy Speakman and Barry Hall and he was not happy unless he could get out for a sail at least twice a week. His skills started to get advanced and in 2005 he teamed up with Andrew Thompson. Dan’s passion for the Club got to the point where he would be there everyday during the holidays (and often non-holidays), from sunup to sundown and he wasn’t just sailing. He would be out windsurfing, kayaking and paddle boarding to the point where he’d be too tired to get his gear back off the beach and cycle home again, and so his Dad would come to pick him up.
Teaming up with Andrew seemed to form an ideal partnership and skill levels reached new dimensions. They sailed a V3000 and with their combined muscle they were best in high wind. “When I was on the helm and Andrew was trapezing, we would clear up”. The pair managed to come 2nd in the 2008 National Championships in very little wind. Dan says, “this result was nothing short of miraculous as we were 3 stone heavier than the other crews!”.
Bloody Mary and Man of Kent
At the 2011 (38th) Bloody Mary (race named after the Queen Mary Reservoir – which is still fortunately intact), the Dan / Andrew partnership managed an outcome beyond all the odds. As reported in the sailing press, competing against the cream of international sailors they led the race, however, our local unknown heroes were pipped into 3rd place out of 200 boats due to a last-minute drop in the wind. In the same year, as the youngest ever crew, they went on to win the Man of Kent Trophy. Conditions were in their favour as it was “horrendously windy” to the extent that they could have dropped their handicap by 200 points and still won.
Since then Dan has continued to sail competitively on the international B14 circuit and is worth following from the beach as he races every week at HSSC. Dan says he loves sailing at Hythe, “it’s really good fun, I get to hone my gear and methods, it’s no hassle, everyone’s friendly and I can sail whenever I want”. However, he goes on to point out that Hythe, depending on prevailing conditions is not always the easiest place to sail. “We are very exposed to the south westerlies on southerly shingle, which means we get big waves with a short chop. The biggest advantages are that you don’t get sand everywhere and if you can sail well here it gives you the confidence to be able to sail anywhere. It makes other places easy by comparison”. Dan also emphasises his need for a challenge, especially for anything engineering related. He built his own GPS tracker long before most people had one, and he says, “There’s a knack to getting the most out of your kit in differing conditions”.
Skill and passion
However, Dan goes on to point out that you do not need to be a mechanical design engineer to enjoy the club facilities, and that there is something for everyone from windsurfing to kayaking to SUPing. Or even helping on the beach or being a social member. He also points out that sailing doesn’t need to be expensive and you certainly do not have to buy your own boat, in fact, most members will encourage you to try out different things and only buy something if and when you want to.