Please select your home edition
Edition
Wildwind 2016 728x90

Remembering sailing caretaker Bob Billingham

by Josh Adams on 8 Apr 2014
Bob Billingham Abner Kingman http://www.kingmanphotography.com
Sailing lost a true caretaker of the sport this past week when Bob Billingham passed following a long and valiant fight against cancer. Bob touched many in sailing through his decades of dedication across different areas of the sport, most notably the America’s Cup and the Olympics. Speaking for several generations of US Sailing Team athletes and the Olympic Sailing Committee past and present, we will dearly miss one of our steady leaders. In his lifetime, Bob had a very positive impact on Olympic sailing in this country.

Bob was an Olympic silver medalist in the Soling (1988), sailing with John Kostecki and Will Baylis. That performance was just the beginning of Bob’s contributions to Olympic sailing, as he would go on to devote his time and passion as a multi-quad member of the Olympic Sailing Committee (OSC). Bob was a tactician who brought to the OSC a competitive fire forged by his experiences with America’s Cup winner America 3 and challenger AmericaOne. Bob always seemed to thrive in the midst of a challenge, especially when a creative solution was the only solution.

As the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider evolved the last few quads—developing a commercial program and upping the financial support of U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes—Bob provided an influential voice during a time of great organizational change. But his best moments centered on developing advantages at the Olympic Games venues. Even while fully dedicated to the most recent America’s Cup, Bob’s influence on Games projects carried well into the current quad; as recently as January he was advising on Rio-based initiatives with his usual competitive focus. The Olympic and Paralympic teams that will be selected to represent USA in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 will have the benefit of Bob’s strategic guidance.

One of Bob’s most notable contributions to the US Sailing Team came in the London 2012 quad. Dean Brenner, OSC Chairman from 2005-2012, captures Bob in his element:

'Bob Billingham was many things in the eyes of many people: an Olympic Medalist and a champion sailor; a world-class operations manager; a major player on multiple levels in the America’s Cup; and a tireless volunteer. But those are just the résumé items. It was the human interactions, the little things that gave Bob texture and made him who and what he was.

In the spring of 2007, Bob and a group of his colleagues wanted to make a big contribution to Olympic Sailing. So Bob and I made our first trip to Weymouth, England, 5+ years before the 2012 Games to begin scouting out locations for a team base. We spent days skulking around Weymouth, keeping a low profile. Bob was in full 'America’s Cup disinformation' mode. He didn’t want anyone to figure out who we were and what we were doing (as if it mattered… but it was fun watching him operate!). Fast-forward to the 2012 Games, and Bob’s vision was reality. 'Camp Billingham,' as we named it, was the home for our teams for multiple years of training and racing. That project was Bob at his creative best.' (Dean's full reflections can be found here: http://bit.ly/1mUJmin )

Bob sailed gracefully on his final beat in life. As the America’s Cup community can attest, he gave it his all these last few years despite significant medical challenges. By now you may have heard that the St. Francis Yacht Club and St. Francis Sailing Foundation have dedicated the B Buoy off the club the 'Billingham Buoy'. We applaud this move, a fitting tribute to Bob’s dedication to sailing and something his beloved family can be proud of. I look forward to rounding the Billingham Buoy and celebrating all that its namesake has done for the sport of US Sailing website
Bakewell-White Yacht DesignNaiad/Oracle SupplierT Clewring AC72

Related Articles

2016 TP52 Super Series – Images from races four and five by Max Ranchi
Photographer Max Ranchi has provided this gallery of images from races four and five Photographer Max Ranchi has provided this gallery of images from races four and five
Posted today at 6:02 pm
14th C. Thomas Clagett Jr Memorial Clinic and Regatta in history books
Many of the sailors taking part have competed in at least five regattas with some returning to sail 10 or more years. Many of the sailors taking part have competed in at least five Clagett regattas with some returning to sail 10 or more years. Both the US and Canadian sailing teams heading for Rio in September for the 2016 Paralympics are Clagett alumni and six out of the 15 teams taking part in the Sonar class in Rio have attended The Clagett over its 14 year history.
Posted today at 4:41 pm
GC32 Racing Tour – Can one town tip the scales for Armin Strom Team?
With a population of 6500, Kerikeri is known for rural surroundings, plentiful orchards and a true laid back Kiwi life Kerikeri, one of New Zealand’s most northernmost towns is where team manager Sharon Ferris-Choat, bowman Alex Bryning, boat captain Ned Dalbeth Hudson and two-time Kiwi Olympian Andrew Murdoch, the latest addition to Armin Strom Sailing Team, all grew up. Their passion for sailing ignited while attending Kerikeri High School.
Posted today at 3:34 pm
Clipper Race fleet enjoys strong westerlies at start of Ocean Sprint
The frontrunners have started the Ocean Sprint, gunning for all-important two extra points to add to leaderboard tally. LMAX Exchange is now leading the fleet, 6.5 nautical miles ahead of yesterday’s race leader ClipperTelemed+, which is four nautical miles ahead of home port entry Derry~Londonderry~Doire in third position. Those three teams have started the Ocean Sprint section this morning.
Posted today at 11:42 am
18ft skiffs - Yamaha wins the long race lottery at Mark Foy Worlds
After a general recall and an individual recall the fleet set off on long race in a light breeze of about four knots. After a general recall and an individual recall the fleet set off on the long race in a light breeze of about four knots. C-Tech won the start with a port hander and the remainder of the fleet quickly tacked over to head towards the top mark, MalaMala Island.
Posted today at 6:37 am
2016 52 Super Series - Day 2 action-shots by Ingrid Abery
Photographer Ingrid Abery was on water at 2016 52 Super Series and provided this gallery of images from Day 2 action. Photographer Ingrid Abery was on water at 2016 52 Super Series and provided this gallery of images from Day 2 action.
Posted today at 3:00 am
Big fleet racing in store for Sailing Series Melges 20 - Act 4
The entry list for the final 2016 Sailing Series® Melges 20 event is long, lean and mean with more than 50 teams The entry list for the final 2016 Sailing Series® Melges 20 event is long, lean and mean with more than 50 teams scheduled to attend, and will potentially surpass all-time Class attendance records with 15 different nations from around the world being represented: Austria, Australia, Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Monaco, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, South Africa
Posted today at 2:34 am
Azzurra wins the second day of the Audi Settimana delle Bocche
The second day of racing at the classic regatta hosted by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda saw a big shakeup in positions. The day’s very light breezes forced the Racing Committee to substitute the scheduled coastal race with a windward/leeward race that began at 2:00 PM in light and unstable breezes that tended to shift towards the right.
Posted on 29 Jun
Underdogs and top dogs sniff out the best breeze at 52 Super Series
In a shifting light-breeze which kept tacticians on their toes, home favourites Azzurra scored their first race win. The gentle breeze moved 50 degrees right over the duration of the race, requiring successive changes to the course axis on each leg of race three of the series. It proved a good day for the underdogs too as XIO and Paprec, two of the oldest boats in the fleet, scrapped over the early lead.
Posted on 29 Jun
2016 TP52 Super Series – Race three images by Max Ranchi
Photographer Max Ranchi has provided this gallery of images from race three Photographer Max Ranchi has provided this gallery of images from race three
Posted on 29 Jun