Obituary: Bob Fisher – renowned yachting journalist and world champion sailor covered 16 editions of the America’s Cup
WORLD champion sailor and renowned yachting journalist and author Bob Fisher has died of cancer aged 85.
Bob, who moved to Lymington in 1980, covered 16 editions of the America’s Cup, and had been due to report on this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
The Royal Lymington Yacht Club member was a world champion in the hornet and fireball dinghy classes in the 1960s, and won the 1967 Little America’s Cup.
He reported for the Guardian from 1958 to 2013, and was also the technical director for the BBC’s 1980s drama Howard’s Way, which was filmed on the River Hamble and the Solent.
Bob’s death was announced by his daughter Alice Davies, who said on Facebook: “It is with such sadness that we have to convey the passing of our fantastic, unique and extraordinary husband and father Bob.
“He lived his whole life to the full and shall leave the fondest of memories not only as a husband and father, as a friend to all the sailing community in the UK, but to the sailing community worldwide.”
Bob was well known and respected locally, with his friend Barry Dunning, a Lymington town councillor, describing him as a “gregarious” and much-loved character.
“Bob and I shared a boat for 13 years and spent many hours out sailing together and racing on the Solent,” he told the A&T.
“We took part in the Round the Island Race and the ‘Old Gaffers’ race, and one of the great things about sailing with Bob was that there was so much laughter.
“He was a great raconteur and his language was often very blue, and he would have us in raptures. I remember walking through Cowes high street with him, and what should have been a five-minute walk took half an hour because he knew so many people.
“He was gregarious and extremely generous, raising money for charities to get kids on the water and giving his time to mentor other journalists, whom he was also very loved by.
“But he could be intolerant and he didn’t suffer fools gladly – he was what you might call a Marmite character; you either loved him or you really bloody didn’t.”
Born in Brightlingsea on the Essex coast and sailing throughout his childhood years, Bob initially trained as a dentist before turning to journalism. A former chairman of the Yachting Journalists’ Association, he wrote 30 books in his lifetime on all aspects of the sport, including seven on the America’s Cup.
Condolences to Bob’s wife Dee were sent over the phone by Olympic sailor Sir Ben Ainslie, who formerly lived in Lymington, from Auckland, New Zealand, where his Ineos Team UK are into the final of the Challenger Series – which will determine who faces Team New Zealand for the America’s Cup in March.
They dedicated a thrilling victory over Italy’s Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli to Bob.
Sir Ben said: “Saddened to hear of the passing of Bob Fisher, whom many considered the doyen of yachting correspondents. 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.’’
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who sailed with Bob many times, including around Britain and Ireland in the boat Barracuda of Tarrant, also paid tribute: “Dear Bob. A great friend, a great character, and a great loss.”
The Royal Lymington Yacht Club said: “It was with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of club member Bob Fisher.
“He had an outstanding career and was a larger-than-life character back in the clubhouse following many an evening race.”
Bob, known as ‘Mr America’s Cup’, leaves behind his wife Dee, daughters Alice and Carolyne, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.