Friday, December 28, 2012

R.I.P. That Guy 1948-2012

Long time readers of this blog will be familiar with a character I called That Guy. I introduced him in 2007...

There's this guy. About my age. Good Laser sailor. I've known him for years and after we moved to this area he was one of the first to welcome me to the local fleet. We've raced in a few regattas together this season. And every single time he finishes in front of me. Not by much. A place or three. A few points maybe. And it's driving me crazy. 

And he made regular appearances over the years in my accounts of Laser racing on this blog. Almost always the same story. I was forever chasing his transom around the race course and could hardly ever finish ahead of him.

I haven't mentioned him for the last couple of years as he had to give up Laser sailing because of health problems. Then earlier this month, actually while we were away on our vacation in the BVI, I received the sad news. That Guy passed away on December 9 after a long battle with cancer.

That Guy was the well-known and much-loved New England Laser sailor John Bentley. Here is his obituary.

One of his many sailing friends wrote that "John was the best thing about Laser sailing." There's a lot of truth in that. It seemed like he befriended everyone with whom he sailed and his outgoing personality and sense of humor livened up every regatta in which he sailed and every party he attended. He knew how to have fun and he helped everyone else to have fun.

He wasn't the kind of guy you expected to be winning every regatta but, all the same, he was a hell of a good sailor, full of enthusiasm, always working hard on the race course, and always sailing fair. He almost invariably finished a few places in front of me when we raced and I never really minded because he made me try harder and, in any case, he was so likable that everyone enjoyed his company.

I think the last time I talked to John was when we did race committee together one Sunday last winter for the Newport frostbite fleet. By then his illness had already forced him to give up Laser sailing, but he still showed up on a cold winter's day to do RC duty for others. That's the kind of guy he was.

Here are some pictures of John...

 How I will remember him. 
Big smile after a day of sailing.

John on the left wearing his trademark 'do-rag' 
at the Caribbean Laser Midwinters Regatta in Cabarete in 2007.

Frostbiting at the New Bedford YC in the winter of 1992/93.
Ted Scott, John Mayer, Bob Saltmarsh, Peter Seidenberg, Mark Bear, John Bentley.
The photo is from the Spring 1993 edition of The Laser Sailor.

John on the left with Mark Bear and Peter Seidenberg again
at the Laser Masters Worlds in 2009.
Thanks to Kim Ferguson for the photo.

There will never be another "That Guy."


Baydog said...

Sorry to hear about that guy. For a second, I thought you were talking about 'who is that guy'.

Tillerman said...

No, that was who is that guy, not the guy who was that guy.

JP said...

Sorry to hear about that guy.

Impressive recovery technique

Tillerman said...

I think the sailor about to do a gybe to avoid the capsized boat was pretty impressive too. Scariest sailing day of my life.

Anonymous said...

As you didn't post anymore for a while I feared for your health, Tillerman. Happy to read something for You. Best whishes and a happy New Year.

Tillerman said...

Sorry if I gave readers cause for concern. I took the opportunity of our vacation in the BVI to take a break from blogging for a couple of weeks. I did the same last year. although last year I was closer to giving up blogging altogether. When you've been blogging almost every day all year, I think it helps to have a break.

O Docker said...

It's sad enough losing a friend, but sadder when the friend is a contemporary.

We're all sailing the race your friend just finished, but I'd gladly give up a few places in this one. Let's hope he beat you to the line by a mile this time.

Reminded of that tagline at the top of your blog.

Tillerman said...

Good point O Docker.

John and I were born in the same year, and so were always racing in the same age group at Masters regattas. And of course when a contemporary passes on it is especially sad, and it inevitably makes you more aware of your own mortality. It's one thing to lose a parent; you expect that's going to to happen one day. But when your own generation starts disappearing it's a lot more unsettling.

Doug / Pam said...

John was a classy guy and a great competitor. He came to many Master Worlds and was one of the people who made it special. It's a privilege to have known him and his family.

meech said...

I hope you continue blogging for some time.

Joe said...

A very nice tribute, Tillerman.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

What Joe says...

Thanks for this posting, Skipper. J.C. Bentley and I have more in common than sailing Lasers. I will be making a contribution to P.C.F. in his name.

ITMT, sorrow for your loss.

Tillerman said...

Thanks Doc. I hope your comment doesn't mean what I fear it means.

Post a Comment