Eight Bells: Bruce Sutphen

Published on February 25th, 2018

Bruce Sutphen

Bruce Sutphen, 1987 Sunfish World Champion, passed away after a yearlong battle with cancer on February 22 in San Diego, CA. He was 52 years old.

A graduate of Connecticut College with a degree in Physics/Optics, Bruce was remarkably clever, with his professional life deep in the development of engineering creations. After helping resurrect the Sunfish and Laser brands, Bruce’s far ranging impact spanned from the America’s Cup to subsea vehicles.

As his wife Shelly notes, “He can fix any broken piece or part with scraps from his work bench while explaining the formula for the Pythagorean Theorem, and that’s all while teaching our girls to singlehandedly sail a boat.”

“Bruce possessed the rare dual quality of someone you wanted to hang out with on land, but respected and didn’t mind getting beat by on the water since his character was pure gold,” reflected Scott Kyle, 2-time Sunfish World Champion. “He was also one of the funniest people I ever met.”

Bruce’s passing rekindled memories from his Sunfish peers, with Shelly’s touching tribute capturing the final moment:

Although the skies were grey, the heavens were rapturous, as Bruce Sutphen said his final farewell. His courageous spirit was lifted and carried, with a gentle prayer, to a place of peace.

The next few days, weeks and months will most definitely bring memories, stories and some laughter, as they should. I beg of us to remember how extraordinarily Bruce lived his life.

His mind had no limitations, his spirit was tireless. He loved so deeply.

Too short of time here, but he wanted us to know, even in the depth of his pain and suffering, “I had a great lap” – yes my darling, it was a wonderful lap with you.

As the girls and I begin our healing, we’ll be turning inward to carry one another during our distress. It’s been a long year of missing our home and missing each other. We find peace in climbing into one bed, holding hands, crying and then laughing at all things Bruce. We pray that the quiet of our love together, will allow all of our family memories to fill our hearts once again.

We are comforted by our community, our friends and our family as you continue to wrap your arms around us. You’ve generously shown your love and your compassion; we could not do without either and we will continue to gain strength from yours.

comment banner

Tags: ,

Back to Top ↑

Get Your Sailing News Fix!

Your download by email.

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’ll keep your information safe.