Eight Bells: Bertie de Speville

Published on April 7th, 2020

Bertrand de Speville, 78 years, passed away March 30 after a long and typically courageous battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife Carol and children Guy and Clare.

Bertie was a key figure in sailing in Hong Kong in the late 1980s and 1990s. He was president of HKSF (HKYA) from 1992-1995 and was largely responsible for creating the organizational structure in use today.

He was manager of the Hong Kong Olympic sailing teams which went to Seoul 1988 and again in Atlanta 1996 where Hwindsurfer Lee Lai San won Hong Kong’s first and only gold medal.

Bertie was an active and popular International Judge and Umpire, officiating at many major events, including the Olympic Games and America’s Cup. His quick legal mind was always effective in resolving rules questions, at ISAF (World Sailing) or at local regattas. He retired from Umpiring, and then from Judging some years ago, but returned to Hong Kong to serve as a jury member of the Flying Fifteen Worlds in 2013.

Bertie’s original family home was in Mauritius and he spent time in Africa and the UK before coming to Hong Kong in the Solicitor General’s office, becoming Solicitor General in 1991. In 1993, he was appointed as the head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption which he led until the handover after which he retired to the UK. He continued working in the anti-corruption area, providing advice to countries in Eastern Europe and Africa, in spite of his illness.

He sailed keenly in England, team racing with the ’Castaways’ while at London University. He arrived in Hong Kong with a red wooden Flying Fifteen, which did not survive the climate for long, but soon his new FF ‘FFLOCCI’ was regularly showing the fleet how to do it!

His common sense, good humor, and friendly personality will be dearly missed.

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