Eight Bells: Bill Ficker

Published on March 14th, 2017

William P. (Bill) Ficker quietly sailed his last voyage alone at age 89 on March 13, 2017.

Bill was a “tall” man, in structure, stature, professional life, and in the yachting world. He was a real yachtsman in the greatest sense of the word, a throwback to other times. While he called Newport Harbor Yacht Club (CA) his home, he was a man of the world.

Winner of the Star Worlds, multiple important events, The Congressional Cup, and most notably skippering the older, slower Intrepid to a tightly fought victory over Gretel II in the 1970 Americas’ Cup. He created the very successful Ficker Cup to offer opportunities for the high level match racing that he loved so much.

Bill’s acute intelligence, dry sense of humor, and immense energy and focus were coupled with natural leadership skills that his loyal crews enjoyed and prospered under. Sporting his now famous “bald head,” Bill – “Ficker is Quicker” – never lost his cool demeanor, composure or steely judgement, even in the most intense situations. No wise competitor underestimated Bill on the race course, and no competitor missed a chance to mingle easily with him at the bar to enjoy is open and friendly style.

The America’s Cup Hall of Fame inducted Bill, as did the National Sailing Hall of Fame. Countless individuals benefited from his gracious mentoring as he sought to teach through setting a good example about sailing, leadership, and life.

Yachting and so many individuals benefited greatly from having such a “tall” man give so much to us and our sport. – Stephen A Van Dyck

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