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Former Volvo Ocean Race Director, Jack Lloyd dies at 67

by Richard Gladwell/Alistair McRae 16 Sep 06:58 PDT 17 September 2021
Jack Lloyd was Volvo Ocean Race Director 2008-2015 and Compliance Officer for the 2017-2018 edition © Ainhoa Sanchez / The Ocean Race

New Zealand's leading sailing official, Jack Lloyd, died suddenly and unexpectedly on Friday evening aged 67.

For almost three decades, he was involved in the resolution of sailing disputes, rules, interpretations and compliance issues for yachting's jet-set as the professional side of the sport evolved.

Jack's began sailing in the traditional Kiwi way in a P-class, aged 8yrs, at his local sailing club, before progressing into offshore racing at an early age. He followed his father's footsteps into club administration before moving into umpiring local and international match racing.

He survived the rarefied atmosphere of the International Jury room before moving across to the hurly-burly of the Volvo Ocean Race, from May 2008 as Race Director, overseeing three editions of the professional fully crewed race around the world. He signed off from that role after the 2013/14 edition of the race.

Jack served on the International Jury for three cycles of the Whitbread and then Volvo Ocean Race. His last was in 2005-06 as Chairman of the International Jury, requiring travel from stopover to stopover of the 11 port, 37,000nm circumnavigation for nine months for each race.

After three VOR races, he exited the demanding Race Director's role, returning as the VOR Compliance Officer for the next race. His main task was to ensure the eight boat one-design VO65 fleet complied with the VO65 class rule after emerging from a comprehensive refit for the 2017/18 Volvo Ocean Race.

Before his involvement with the Whitbread Round the World Race and its successor, the Volvo Ocean Race, Jack served on the 26 member International Jury for the 2008 Olympic Regatta in Qingdao.

That stint was preceded by an America's Cup involvement covering four America's Cup cycles from 1995 - 2003, working as a member of the International Umpiring team and then as an in-house rules adviser for two America's Cup teams.

Born in Whangarei, in 1954, with two sisters, Jack grew up in the seaside suburb of Onerahi.

Remembered as a chubby red-headed kid, Jack - like most kids of his era - started sailing a P-class at the local club. His father, Noel, was heavily involved in the Onerahi Yacht Club, serving as Commodore from 1975-76.

The Onerahi YC was one of New Zealand's premier offshore clubs, organising the 1,000nm biannual Whangarei to Noumea Race and the annual Onerahi 100. The races attracted big fleets, including the finest of the New Zealand fleet, with household names like Rainbow II, Fidelis, Ta'aroa, and Kahurangi competing. Noel Lloyd was heavily involved in offshore race organisation and safety requirements like Jack was to be at an international level.

After the P-class, Jack progressed through a couple of single-handed dinghy classes before inevitably heading into keelboat and offshore racing.

After just four years at high school, Jack served an apprenticeship in his father's business "Lloyds Saddlery & Sails".

When he was about 19yrs old, he and his life-long mate Keith Andrews teamed up and built the Farr Quarter Tonner Straightlaced, which they raced competitively. The two then decided to step up into the "big time" and home-built a Farr One Tonner in a shed on the outskirts of town. Launched in 1976, Lovelace was a regular competitor in every event and trial series until they were selected for the NZ team to sail in the inaugural PanAm Clipper Cup in Hawaii.

Lovelace was sold in Hawaii, and Jack, newly married to Joss, turned his attentions to his sailmaking business as well as club and sailing administration - putting back into sport some of what he had taken out. Like his father, ten years earlier, Jack was also a Commodore of the Onerahi Yacht Club, but for two terms from 1984-1987.

Jack paved the way for a young sailmaker, Mike Sanderson, aged 22yrs, who started a stellar professional sailing career aboard the Grant Dalton skippered maxi-ketch NZ Endeavour in the 1993/94 Whitbread Round the World Race. A decade later, Sanderson won the 2005-06 Volvo Ocean Race as skipper of the Volvo 70, ABN Amro.

"I've known Jack, literally all of my sailing career," recalled Sanderson, a former Rolex World Sailor of the Year.

"He was a hero in the Whangarei Cruising Club and Onerahi Yacht Club when I was growing up. Ahead of me were multiple America's Cup winners, Robbie Naismith and Mattie Mason.

"I started sailing at the age of five of six, in Opti's and P's while Robbie and Matthew were sailing their Cherub. By then, Jack was in his 20's and into keelboat sailing.

"Jack and his Lovelace mates were the heavy-weights of our local sailing scene. Jack was one of our big-time guys that made it to go sailing in Auckland!"

"My enduring memory, when I was a kid, was that Jack was a pro," the still slightly wide-eyed Sanderson recalled.

"All through my time at school, when he had Lloyd Sails, he did all sorts of weird and wonderful sail projects for me. Then in my match-racing days, he was always great to me, although bloody tough, because we were fellow Whangarei boys. Of course, in my whole America's Cup and especially the Volvo. I spent a lot of time with him."

"He was an amazing guy with his background of being a good yachtie, a sailmaker, a practical builder of boats, and such a strong rules knowledge. With that base of practical knowledge, he could just lay out all the scenarios in his head in a very practical way," Sanderson remarked.

In the early 1990's Jack started turning at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron along with his workboat picking up the basics of match-race umpiring.

Along with a few of us, Jack attended the IYRU's first umpiring seminar at the RNZYS conducted by later IYRU President Göran Petersson (SWE).

Jack came into Match Racing via a different route to most - gaining his International Umpire certification from the then-IYRU in 1993, before adding his International Judge's ticket three years later.

Jack worked on the Umpiring team at many Match Racing events and was part of the umpiring team for the 1995 and 2000 America's Cups in San Diego and Auckland. These were long tours of duty, made even harder given that umpiring was still evolving and was being put under enormous pressure by professional crews and team rules advisers. The stakes were high with an error by a team, or umpire, in the closing stages of a series would probably result in the end of a multi-million dollar America's Cup campaign.

"Jack raced regularly. He understood the game from a sailors point of view and brought a down to earth pragmatic approach to his umpiring," recalled long-time Emirates Team New Zealand rules advisor Russell Green.

"As a result, he was highly respected at a national and international level, being well-liked by both the officials he worked with and the competing sailors. "When he worked as a team rules advisor for One World in Auckland in 2003 and Emirates Team New Zealand in Valencia, Jack was a valuable team member with a great work ethic.

"When not busy with his rules work, he would soon use his practical skills to help out in the boat shed or sail loft, Green added.

"He was a true trooper."

"Jack and Joss were also involved in the management of YNZ youth teams. He made a big contribution to youth and the wider sailing community, especially in Northland." "All will sorely miss his calm, thoughtful demeanour and sense of humour. We have lost a true friend and supporter of NZ sailing."

After two Cup cycles in the umpiring teams, the gamekeeper turned poacher, and Jack worked as a rules/umpiring adviser and in-house umpire for the One World (USA) Challenge in Auckland in 2003, and then did the same for Emirates Team New Zealand in the 2007 America's Cup campaign.

"His peers considered Jack to be an outstanding race official," commented David Tillett, who, as Chairman of Olympic, Volvo Ocean Race and America's Cup International Juries, worked with Jack on several events.

"He understood the sport and the sailor's perspective," Tillett recalled.

"Jack was not just a race official. With his broad background including sailmaking and boatbuilding, he was very good at assessing the evidence presented."

"He was a wonderful sounding board on difficult issues."

"We have lost an invaluable member of our team."

Jack was an ISAF International Umpire Test Administrator and Chairman of the Test Administration Group. He served on the ISAF's International Judges Sub-committee and the Racing Rules Committee. In 2013 he was one of the few Kiwis to be awarded the ISAF Silver Medal in recognition of many years' service to the world governing body and sport of sailing.

During the 1990s, Jack and Joss took over management of the YNZ Youth team at several Youth Worlds and provided stability into the situation - helping many young sailors achieve their first major international regatta success.

In 2008 he was invited to be part of the 26 member International Jury for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Regatta - with an on the water component each day, followed by hearing protests at night - again conducted against the tense backdrop of Olympic medals being won and lost.

For the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, Jack acted as rules adviser to the New Zealand team, keeping them out of the Jury room, winning two Gold, three Silver and two Bronze medals.

Throughout all his sailing career, Jack was noted for having a cool head under pressure, always presenting a carefully reasoned argument while listening carefully to those of others. Despite intense pressure at times, he always maintained a calm demeanor, kept the tone of his voice level - and when he thought the issue was done, his sentences got just shorter.

Jack covered a lot of ground, but always his thinking was shaped by a strong base of practical experience learned from outside the classroom.

He was living proof that you could take the boy out of Whangarei, but you could never take the Whangarei out of the boy.

He will be sadly missed by all, particularly by his wife Joss, daughter Ria and son Kobe.

Fair winds, mate.

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