Eight Bells: Derek Hatfield
Published on August 5th, 2016
Famed Canadian sailor Derek Hatfield has died in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on July 30, 2016, after a brief illness, at the age of 63. Derek was born in Newcastle, New Brunswick on August 30, 1952. He attended Nackawic High School in New Brunswick. Derek joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1971. He then graduated from York University in Toronto, Ontario with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. His ambition and skill catapulted him to the rank of Corporal in just eight years on the Force as he became a specialist in complex fraud investigations.
In 1986, Derek joined the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE) as the Manager of the Compliance Department, responsible for managing a professional team of auditors completing reviews of the Exchange membership. He was later employed Ontario Securities Commission and National Bank Financial and responsible for all regulatory requirements.
Derek was far more than his resume, though. He made friends easily and adored his family. His courage, strength, humility and love of adventure all found their expression when he discovered sailing, and specifically extreme, solo, offshore sailing competitions traversing oceans and circling the globe. Derek became an accomplished offshore racer and a pioneer of competitive ocean adventures, representing Canada in some of the world’s most challenging and notorious events.
Derek was the first Canadian to complete two single-handed races around the world. His keen sense for business, sponsorship and unrelenting determination established the foundation for Spirit of Canada, a brand that was emblazoned on his competitive yachts and also later the platform for sail training, team-building adventures, and motivational speaking engagements.
Derek competed in three races around the world. The first was the Around Alone, where he finished first in his fleet and became the 126th person to ever race around the world alone. This earned him Canada’s Rolex Sailor of the Year Award. In 2008 Derek became the first competitor to ever fly the Canadian flag in the infamous Vendee Globe and in 2010 Derek once again took the podium in the VELUX 5 Oceans single-handed race around the world; a task he relished as it demanded skill, perseverance, survival skills and intense attention to details.
He often faced adversity, such as being pitch-poled in hurricane force winds near Cape Horn, equipment failures, and the mental and physical trials of sailing alone for months on end. Derek often noted that his sailing accomplishments would never have been possible without the love, support and partnership offered by his wife Patianne and the “shore crew” which often included close friends and family.
Despite a love for competition and pushing himself to extremes, Derek was always approachable, friendly and generous. He showed great respect for the sea, as well as respect for his fellow sailors and those from all walks of life. Additionally, Derek worked with charity organizations like Earth Rangers to raise awareness of the environment and instill valuable life lessons for children. He truly believed that with a clear focus on goals and hard work that one could accomplish anything.
He will be sadly missed by his wife Patianne Verburgh, his children Ben Hatfield, Sarah Hatfield, Devin Hatfield (Tara; Rowan and Duran) and Aron Hatfield (Kanako), his mother, Pauline Hatfield, his brother, Hal Hatfield (Barbara nee James) and his sister, Tammy Hatfield (Kirk Howard) and niece Rebecca McLellan. He is predeceased by his father Arthur Edwin Hatfield.
Memorial services will be held on August 17, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. at the Mactaquac United Baptist Church in Mactaquac, New Brunswick with visitation immediately following the service. A Celebration of Life will be held later in the month in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. For details please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Memorial donations may be made to the Derek Hatfield Children’s Fund at any branch of Scotiabank (Account # 71613 0424080) or Etransfer to email@example.com. These funds will be used for immediate funeral and medical expenses, children’s education and other expenses the family deems appropriate during this difficult time. A donation link will also be available on the Spirit of Canada Ocean Challenges website (www.spiritofcanada.net).