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8 Bells: Bob Fisher - Mr America's Cup

by Barry Pickthall 26 Jan 08:34 PST
Bob Fisher at home in Lymington - July 2019 © Richard Gladwell

Winner of successive championship titles in Hornet and Fireball class dinghies, Little America's Cup, & 2-man Round Britain Race winner, journalist, photographer and award-winning author.

Born: Brightlingsea, Essex UK on 20.04.1935
Died: Lymington, Hampshire UK on 25.01.2021

Bob Fisher, the larger-than-life yachtsman, journalist and author crossed the bar peacefully on January 25th surrounded by family. He was 85.

Three days before, Sir Ben Ainslie had called him from Auckland, New Zealand where he and his INEOS Team UK America's Cup team had just won the most exciting race in the 170-year history for the 'Auld Mug' to dedicate their victory to this fabled Cup historian.

Bob Fisher was born and bred in the coastal town of Brightlingsea, Essex UK and made sailing his life. Engaged 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 '37, he first made a name as a top crew, winning 7 national and world titles in the National Hornet and Fireball high performance dinghy classes. He also won the International Yacht Racing Union trials to select a 2-man trapeze catamaran trials with his Brightlingsea friend Reg White which led to the Tornado being chosen as the first Olympic multihull class.

White was Britain's top multihull sailor, and it was on his recommendation that Bob went on to claim international fame, winning the 1967 Little America's Cup in C-Class catamarans, racing the British defender Lady Helmsman with Peter Schneidau against the Australian challenger Quest III, winning the series in dominant style 4:1. Fisher's prize was an all-expenses paid trip to Newport Rhode Island to watch the American 12m yacht Intrepid beat the Australian challenger Dame Pattie in the real America's Cup. It led to a life-long obsession with Bob covering all the matches since, bar the current racing off Auckland.

The author of 30 books on all aspects of the sport, they include eight covering The Whitbread/Volvo round the world race and 1986 Book of the Sea award winning tome - Greatest Race: Official Story of the Whitbread Round the World Race, 1985-86 - and seven on the America's Cup.

In 1992, Bob set about to write the definite history of the America's Cup, supported by that year's Cup winner, American philanthropist Bill Koch. The two-volume An Absorbing Interest took 15 years to research and write and has become the go-to opus to answer any question about the Cup. His latest work An Absorbing Interest Vol III covering the past two decades of Cup Races is due to be published in the Autumn.

Bob's greatest hope had been to see Britain finally win back the famous ewer first competed for in 1851 in a race around the Isle of Wight. That has not happened in his lifetime, but he did follow the INEOS team come-back from oblivion in preliminary races in Auckland before Christmas to win a place in the finals of the Prada Cup challenge trials 5:0, and was cheered even more by Sir Ben's last race dedication to our Mr America's Cup. The final chapter of Bob's last book may yet record his greatest wish fulfilled.

Bob Fisher is survived by his wife Dee, two children Alice and Carolyne, three grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Donations in Bob Fisher's memory are welcomed to be sent to the Sir Thomas Lipton Foundation with a very brief reason why: www.sirthomasliptonfoundation.org

Messages and condolences are welcome on Bob Fisher's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/bob.fisher.167527

Achievements:

1958: 1st HORNET WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP John Partridge/Bob Fisher
1961: 1st Hornet National championship: John Partridge/Bob Fisher
1965: 1st Hornet National championship: Mike Patten/Bob Fisher
1966: 1st Fireball World Championship: Colin McKenzie/Bob Fisher
1966: 1st Hornet National championship: Terry Wade/Bob Fisher
1967: Winners - Little America's Cup - Lady Helmsman - Peter Schneidau/Bob Fisher
1969: 1st Hornet National Championship: Colin McKenzie/Bob Fisher
1970: 1st Hornet World Championship: Colin McKenzie/Bob Fisher
1989: 1st Class IV - 2-man Round Britain Race: Bob Fisher/Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

  • Trustee of the Sir Thomas Lipton Foundation
  • Former Chairman of the Yachting Journalists' Association (YJA)
  • A founder member of the Society of International Nautical Scribes (SINS)
  • America's Cup Hall of Fame selection panellist
  • Rolex/World Sailing World Sailor of the Year selection panellist

List of Bob's Books:

  1. Small Boat Racing with the Champions
  2. Learning to Sail
  3. Crewing racing dinghies and keelboats by Bob Fisher (1976-08-01)
  4. Better Sailing by Bob Fisher and Ted Hood
  5. Catamaran Racing by Reg White and Bob Fisher
  6. The Longest Race: Whitbread Round the World Race by Peter Cook and Bob Fisher
  7. The Admiral's Cup by Bob Fisher (1985-12-02)
  8. Fastnet Disaster and After
  9. 12-metre Images
  10. Beken of Cowes: The New Ocean Thoroughbreds by Bob Fisher, A. Keith Beken,
  11. Grandes courses oceanes:
  12. The Armchair Sailor
  13. La voile sans problem
  14. The America's Cup 1987: The Official Record by Bob Fisher and Bob Ross
  15. America's Cup The ACC Yachts 1992 - 2007 by Bob Fisher and Karl Urtz
  16. Sailing on the Edge: America's Cup
  17. Der America's Cup: Eine Regatta setzt Maßstäbe
  18. An Absorbing Interest - The America's Cup - A History 1851-2003 2Vs
  19. The Poisoned Chalice: Dirty Tricks and Double-Crossing at the Heart of the America's Cup
  20. Greatest Race: Official Story of the Whitbread Round the World Race, 1985-86
  21. Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race 1985-86: Official Souvenir Edition?
  22. Great Yacht Races
  23. La voile sans problème
  24. Faster and Faster: Story of the Whitbread Round the World Race, 1993-94 by Bob Fisher and Barry Pickthall
  25. Ocean Conquest: The Official Story of the Whitbread Round the World Race, Past, Present and Future by Barry Pickthall and Bob Fisher
  26. The Greatest Race: The Official Story of the Whitbread Round-The-World Race 1985/1986
  27. Volvo Race Regatas Legendarias by Bob Fisher, Barry Pickthall
  28. The Fabulous 40s: A History of the Farr 40 Class 1996-2011
  29. Les légendes de la voile by Bob Fisher and Barry Pickthall
  30. Sailing Legends by Bob Fisher and Barry Pickthall

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