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Eight Bells: Bill Munster

Published on January 8th, 2015

Internationally known World Champion yachtsman Bill Munster passed away suddenly on December 11, 2014 in Bend, Oregon at the age of 76.

Bill was a native and resident of San Diego for over 70 years before retiring to Bend, Oregon. Bill attended Army Navy Academy in Carlsbad, CA and graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Bill worked as a commercial real estate broker for many years at Coldwell Banker and then as owner/principal of Munster Properties in Point Loma, CA.

Bill was a true gentle giant who made a huge mark on the sailing community throughout his life. He began his sailing career in the 1960’s on the late John P. Scripps’s beautiful racing yacht Novia del Mar. As the story goes, Bill was in the bar at San Diego Yacht Club and after perhaps some libations, he challenged the strong man of the day Pete Peterson to an arm wrestling match right then and there. Bill proceeded to break Pete’s wrist, which gained immediate notice and earned him a crew spot on the coveted Novia del Mar. The rest is history.

Due to his size, strength, and quick wit, Bill became one of the most sought after Star class crews long before the days of hiking harnesses. Bill crewed for the late Tom Blackaller in the 1972 Olympic Star Class Trials where they sank Tom’s boat named appropriately “Good Grief” in 30+ knot winds on San Francisco Bay where a keen photographer snapped one of the most famous sailboat racing pictures (click here) of all time.

Bill was instrumental in fostering the growth of the Etchells class in San Diego, also serving as the class International President for many years. Bill crewed for Dennis Conner in the Etchells Worlds on two occasions. After finishing second in Fremantle, Australia in 1990 along with fellow crew mate Andreas Josenhans, Bill and Dennis brought in Norm Reynolds to win the 1991 Etchells World Championships on San Francisco Bay. Bill also skippered his own Etchells for many years, winning the San Diego Bay Fleet Championships and the coveted Orca Bowl among others.

Bill served as Commodore of the San Diego Yacht Club in 1996. He also accepted US Sailing’s One Design Yacht Club of the Year award in 1999 to San Diego Yacht Club in recognition of his efforts to grow one design sailboat racing in San Diego and around the world.

A man that lived a full life, always quick to tell a joke, often not concerned with political correctness yet someone his many friends knew always had their back.

Fair winds our dear friend. – Andy La Dow
A Celebration of Life will be held at San Diego Yacht Club on Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 1:00 PM. Memorial contributions may be made to the SDYC Sailing Foundation/Jr. Program Endowment, 1011 Anchorage Lane, San Diego, CA 92106.

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