SAN DIEGO (AP) — Bob Fisher, the world’s preeminent yachting journalist and one of the top America’s Cup historians who also was a champion sailor, has died. He was 85.
Fisher died of cancer Monday at his home in Lymington, England, daughter Alice Davies confirmed in an email to The Associated Press.
Davies said that shortly after INEOS Team UK clinched a spot in the America’s Cup challenger final on Saturday in New Zealand, Sir Ben Ainslie called Fisher’s wife, Dee, to say he was dedicating a thrilling victory over Italy’s Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team to Fisher.
INEOS Team UK represents England’s best chance yet in its 170-year quest to win back the America’s Cup, which it lost to the schooner America in 1851 in a race around the Isle of Wight. Lymington is across the Solent from the Isle of Wight.
In a statement, Ainslie, the most-decorated Olympic sailor in history who helped a U.S. team win the America’s Cup in 2013, called Fisher “the doyen of yachting correspondents and a very good yachtsman in his own right. Wherever you went in the world Bob knew everyone and had so much experience across the board of yacht racing, a real character. I will miss his race debriefs. … He was just a lovely guy and our thoughts are with his family. Sail on Bob your memory will live on.”
Bruno Troublé, a former America’s Cup skipper for France who has run the America’s Cup media center for nearly three decades, remembered Fisher fondly.
“Fish knew the Cup better than anyone and he is one of the real reasons WHY the America’s Cup was and still is so special,” Troublé said in an email from Auckland. “He knew all the good stories, all the great characters around the Cup and could write amazing words about them. We will miss him a lot and for long.”
Fisher’s obsession with the America’s Cup began in 1967. After winning the Little America’s Cup in C-Class catamarans with Peter Schneidau, his prize was an all-expenses paid trip to the America’s Cup in Newport, Rhode Island, where American defender Intrepid beat the Australian challenger Dame Pattie.
He covered all the America’s Cup racing since, except the current racing in Auckland.
Fisher wrote seven books about the America’s Cup, including what is considered the definitive history of the oldest trophy in international sports, the two-volume “An Absorbing Interest – The America’s Cup – A History 1851-2003.” The project, started in 1992 with the backing of that year’s America’s Cup winner, Bill Koch, took 15 years to research and write.
His latest work, “An Absorbing Interest Vol. III,” covering the past two decades of America’s Cup racing, is due to be published in the fall.
Fisher wrote 30 sailing books, including eight about the Whitbread/Volvo Round the World Race.
He was the yachting correspondent for The Guardian newspaper in London and the Observer Sunday newspaper. He also was a columnist for several magazines, including Sail in the United States and Yachts & Yachting in the UK.
Fisher was born and raised in the coastal town of Brightlingsea, Essex. Inspired by stories from the professional Brightlingsea fishermen who crewed the big yachts of their day, including Sir Thomas Sopwith’s two British J Class America’s Cup challengers, Endeavour and Endeavour II in 1934 and 1937, he first made a name as a top crew, winning seven national and world titles in the Hornet and Fireball high-performance dinghy classes.
He also won the International Yacht Racing Union trials to select a two-man trapeze catamaran with his Brightlingsea friend Reg White, which led to the Tornado being chosen as the first Olympic multihull class.
Fisher was a founder of the Society of International Nautical Scribes (SINS), which traditionally meets on the first lay day of the America’s Cup match.
Fisher is survived by his wife, Dee, daughters Alice and Carolyne, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
The family suggests donations may be made to the Sir Thomas Lipton Foundation.
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