Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars

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
Zhik AkzoNobelb 660x82North Technology - Southern SparsAncasta Ker 40+ 660x82

Related Articles

The world of sailing comes to Antigua Sailing Week
A staggering number of sailors from worldwide are descending on the Caribbean Antigua island to celebrate 50th edition. About 1,500 competitors from 32 countries will enjoy five days of world class racing, preceded by the Guadeloupe to Antigua Race and the Peters and May Round Antigua Race.
Posted today at 10:09 am
Ida Lewis Distance Race - Popular sailboat race set for August
The 13th edition of the Ida Lewis Distance Race is scheduled to start on Friday, August 18, 2017 The 13th edition of the Ida Lewis Distance Race is scheduled to start on Friday, August 18, 2017, promising once again to deliver an exciting late-season topper to a busy summer of competitive racing on Narragansett Bay. Classes for IRC, PHRF, One Design, Multihull and Double-Handed insure that everyone (with a qualifying boat of 28 feet or longer) has a place to fit in.
Posted today at 7:21 am
Sperry Charleston Race Week 2017 in review
The underlying goal for every race organizer – even those staging benefit regattas – is to provide safe, fair sailing The underlying goal for every race organizer – even those staging benefit regattas – is to provide safe, fair, competitive sailing. When you have your hands on the helm of a mega regatta such as Sperry Charleston Race Week, that doesn’t change. But it does become more complicated.
Posted today at 2:19 am
New faces in town with RC44 Sotogrande Cup set to begin
This event follows from last season's RC44 World Championship also held off this magnificent development Of the eight teams competing off Sotogrande, favourite is Igor Lah's Team CEEREF. Not only is the cockpit on the Slovenian RC44 adorned with the overall championship leader's 'golden wheels', but Lah's team also won the World Championship here in 2016.
Posted on 26 Apr
Sailing World Cup Hyères –Day 2– Zegers and van Veen show how its done
Afrodite Zegers and Anneloes van Veen were unstoppable on day two, winning both Women's 470 races in convincing style Out of the 534 competitors from 52 nations racing across ten Olympic events, Open Kiteboarding and 2.4 Norlin OD, the Dutch team were the standout performers.
Posted on 26 Apr
Women’s Sailing Conference slated for June 3 Marblehead, MA
The event, which features hands-on land and water-based workshops and seminars, offers women a fantastic opportunity The event, which features hands-on land and water-based workshops and seminars, offers women a fantastic opportunity to learn or hone sailing skills, network with other women sailors from all over the United States and gain the confidence necessary to become a valuable crew member or knowledgeable skipper
Posted on 26 Apr
GC32 Racing Tour Owner-Driver Championship heats up
Unique aspect of GC32 is that compared to other foiling catamarans, it is simpler to sail and logistically easier to run Team Argo is sailing with the same crew as it had for February’s GC32 Championship in Oman, including leading American Moth and big boat sailor Anthony Kotoun and British former Olympic and America’s Cup sailor Alister Richardson.
Posted on 26 Apr
RORC Season's Points Championship and Cervantes Trophy Race preview
Over 5000 sailors from all over the world will race in the biggest offshore sailing competition in the world. Over 5000 sailors from all over the world will race in the biggest offshore sailing competition in the world. While this year the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race is the showcase event, there are fourteen testing races that make up the championship, and every race has its own coveted prize for the overall winner and for class honours.
Posted on 26 Apr
Biggest Round the World Ocean Race returns to Liverpool
The biggest round-the-world ocean race is to return to Liverpool with start and finish of this unique global challenge The biggest round-the-world ocean race is to return to Liverpool with the start and finish of this unique global challenge moving from the capital back to the River Mersey on the tenth anniversary of its last partnership with the region.
Posted on 26 Apr
2018 BVI Spring Regatta adds new race to Sailing Festival
On the heels of the 2017 BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, preparations have already begun for 2018. On the heels of the 2017 BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, preparations have already begun for 2018. The week of March 27 - April 1 will offer the unique opportunity to race under a full moon. With that illumination, we will run the inaugural 'Full Moon Race, 64 Islands ~One Brilliant Night'.
Posted on 26 Apr