Eight Bells: Bob ‘Buddha’ Billingham

Published on April 2nd, 2014

Bob ‘Buddha’ Billingham passed away following a lengthy illness on March 30, 2014 at home in Grass Valley, California. He was 56 years of age.

Bob had graduated from Amherst College in 1979 with degrees in Geology and English. Born in England, he immigrated to the United States when he was five years old with his parents, who were professors at Stanford University.

Bob had an accomplished sailing track record which included representing the United States at the 1988 Olympics, winning the Silver medal in the Soling Class with John Kostecki and Will Baylis. Bob is a five-time World Champion in Solings, Etchells, J/24s and Maxis. Bob had also served on the management side of the US Olympic Team for 20 years.

Bob’s involvement in the America’s Cup included crewing on the 1992 America’s Cup winning team America3, and then roles as Chief Operating Officer for Paul Cayard at AmericaOne 2000 and Artemis Racing. Prior to the 34th America’s Cup, Bob worked for the America’s Cup event organizers in San Francisco, preparing facilities to host America’s Cup racing in 2012 and 2013.

“The last time I saw Bob, he was setting up to do America’s Cup commentary in a setting that, as Project Manager, he had orchestrated,” noted yachting journalist Kimball Livingston. “He showed no sign of the cancer or the treatments that had been in his foreground for years, and I never heard a word out of his own mouth about them. Nothing slowed Bob down until he hit the wall, and he hit the wall fast forward. In 2013, I heard a friend say that the America’s Cup was keeping him alive – to fill its demands – but Bob disappeared over the winter, and I started hearing of a fast slide, not to be talked about openly. Bob was never afraid of having a public presence, as long as it wasn’t ‘about’ him.”

When not involved with sailing projects, Bob had built a successful project management career overseeing design and construction of large projects from residential and office high-rise buildings to high end custom homes.

There will be a Celebration of Life held at a future date.

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