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Fiddler's Green

Mar 28, 2013

Notable mariners who passed away in 2012

Bob Foresman

Bob Foresman

Bob Foresman

Forespar founder, Dr. Robert Foresman, died at his home in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., on Dec. 30, 2012, at age 87. He was born in 1925 in Pasadena and was an orthodontist by profession. He served in the U.S. Navy’s V-12 program as an officer in the Navy Dental Corps in World War II and Korea.

Foresman started sailing at a very young age. His inventive nature led him to develop numerous products for his own sailboat. He established Forespar Products Corporation in 1965.

Foresman was involved in product development and came to work every day until late last year. He is survived by his wife, Juin, and three children: Scott Foresman, Guy Foresman and Gayl Foresman Beller. He is predeceased by his youngest son, Mark.

Frank Bethwaite

Frank Bethwaite died on May 12, 2012, at age 92. Bethwaite was a pioneer in small boat design and the author of High Performance Sailing (1992) and Higher Performance Sailing (2002). He had just completed his third book on apparent wind sailing to be published later this year by Adlard Coles.

Bethwaite was born in Wanganui, New Zealand, on May 26, 1920. He learned to sail on the Wanganui River. He joined the Royal NZ Air Force during World War II and flew bombing raids in the Pacific for which he was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross).

He joined Tasman Empire Airways Ltd. (TEAL, later Air New Zealand), at the same time experimenting with model planes to find the most efficient wing shapes in competition. After five years of testing various designs and studying thermal lifts along the coastline, he set the world sailplane endurance record of more than nine hours aloft in 1952.

Bethwaite and his wife, Nel, moved to Sydney, Australia, with their four children in 1958. They settled in Northbridge and became active members at the Northbridge Sailing Club, forming a group that designed the Northbridge Senior, a small light sailing boat. The NS14 is still actively raced on the east coast of New South Wales.

In 1968, he had established a small manufacturing company called Starboard Products inside an old dance hall at Naremburn. The company produced masts and other boat parts.

In 1975, he designed a new boat called the Tasar, with a minimum weight limit to encourage adults to sail and race competitively. Performance Sailcraft bought the design and manufactured the boat in Canada, the U.K., Japan, and Australia.

In 2000, Bethwaite was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to sport. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Nel, and four children: Christine, Mark, Nicky and Julian.

George Durward Griffith

George Griffith died on Sept. 10, 2012, at age 91, aboard his motorboat Sarissa, with the family rushing him from Catalina Island to the mainland. According to family accounts, just short of the beach, Griffith simply slipped his mooring and fell asleep.

Born May 9, 1921, Griffith was a lifelong sailor. At 10 years old he built himself a nine-foot dinghy. He sailed his first Transpac in 1941, sharing the 45-foot cutter Pajara with his brother, Dave, and finishing second on corrected time. He attended Cal Tech and during World War II he was involved in building and designing warships in Houston, Texas. He worked at Chevron as an engineer, and also for the Atomic Energy Commission at Lawrence Labs, in Livermore, Calif.

He worked with naval architect Bill Lapworth on the design of a 36-footer, and then a 40-footer, that would become the Cal 40. He used fin keel, spade rudder and light-for-its-time construction that would make the boat a serious downwind performer. In the 1965 Transpac, Cal 40s finished at the top of several divisions. Downwind distance racing has never been the same.

George and his wife, Millie, were longtime members of the Los Angeles Yacht Club, Transpac Yacht Club, and Cruising Club of America. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Mille, daughter Mary and son David.

Alan P. Gurney

Alan Peter Gurney, designer of the Islander and internationally known for his offshore racing and cruising yachts, died peacefully on July 22, 2012, in Woodbridge, Essex, U.K.

Gurney’s dream was to build a 36-foot yacht that would be a competitive racing machine, but that also could cruise a family comfortably. He succeeded with what became the Islander 36. Today there are more than 600 of these boats sailing the world over.

Gurney designed boats the old fashioned way and without modern CAD systems. He was an accomplished seaman and sailor, and sailed extensively in England, trans-Atlantic, the United States and both polar regions.

At just 24 years old, Gurney had won a prestigious competition for a modern club racer sponsored by the British magazine, Yachting World. His other designs also include Windward Passage, owned by the lumber tycoon, Robert F. Johnson. Johnson had selected Gurney for the new design having been impressed by the performance of George Moffett’s Guinevere, a 48-foot Jacobsen-built aluminum yawl that had won the SORC in 1966, the second of two ocean racers Gurney had designed for Moffett. He also designed the Competition 1000, a half tonner.

W. Bruce Lockwood

W. Bruce Lockwood died on Oct. 11, 2012, at age 90. Lockwood was born in Boston on May 14, 1922 and grew up in Ohio. He spent his early summers on the North Fork of Long Island, N.Y., where he learned to sail at an early age. In 1938, he and his brother, John, founded the Old Cove Yacht Club in New Suffolk, N.Y.

A retired naval architect and engineer, Lockwood also served in the U.S. Navy and after that was captain of the University of Michigan sailing team. Throughout his life, Lockwood belonged to many sailing organizations including the Woodridge Association, Ram Island Yacht Club, Shennecossett Yacht Club, Baldwin Yacht Club, Off Soundings Club, Storm Trysail Club, Palo Alto Yacht Club, and the Mystic River Mudheads. In 2007, he wrote the book Reflections-Off Soundings Since 1933.

During the winter months, Lockwood raced penguins in Connecticut, snipes in San Francisco Bay, dinghies in the Phillipines, knockabouts on Peconic Bay, J-29s in Key West, and all types of sailboats on Long Island Sound.

He was the winner of three Block Island Race Weeks, Key West Race Week, the Mumm 30 Northeast Championship, was an eight-time champion of the Mystic River Mudhead fleet, and won too many Off Soundings Series to count. His most recent win was the 2012 Off Soundings Series, four weeks before his death in October.

Lockwood is survived by Linda Blair Lockwood, his wife of 15 years; four daughters and their families. Bruce was predeceased by Nancy H. Lockwood, his first wife of 44 years, and his sister Mary Oakes.

Henry “Mr. Henri” Strzelecki

Henry Strzelecki, co-founder of Henri-Lloyd, died on Dec. 26, 2012, at the age of 87. Known as “Mr. Henri,” he and partner Angus Lloyd founded the apparel and foul weather gear company that bears their names.

Henry "Mr. Henri" Strzelecki

A native of Poland, Strzelecki settled in his adopted city of Manchester, U.K. He was born in Brodnica and fled his Nazi occupied homeland during World War II. After serving in the Polish 2nd Corps in Italy he opted to stay in Britain following the Communist takeover of Poland.

He built a career in the textile industry and married his wife Sheila in 1952. Strzelecki became a keen sailor and quickly identified the need for more suitable clothing for the sport. He began to explore the use of man-made fabrics such as Bri-nylon, which became the base of his earliest foul weather gear designs.

In 1963, he established a partnership with Lloyd to form Henri-Lloyd Limited. Together they developed innovations such as non-corrosive zippers and integrated safety harnesses in their jackets. In 1993, the Henri-Lloyd business moved to a factory in his hometown of Brodnica.

Among his many awards are a British MBE for services to the clothing industry. In 1990, the Gold Cross of Merit was awarded to Strzelecki by the President of Poland. Strzelecki retired in 1996.

He was predeceased by his wife, Sheila, and is survived by two sons, Paul and Martin (the joint chief executives of Henri-Lloyd Limited) and a daughter, Diane, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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