Eight Bells: Mark Murphy

Published on June 15th, 2020

With great sorrow, we mark the passing of Eastport Yacht Club (Annapolis, MD) Past Commodore Mark G. Murphy, 71, on June 10, 2020. The sailing community has lost a skilled and thoughtful leader, a seemingly tireless teacher and mentor, a significant contributor to the sport at nearly every level, and a steadfast friend.

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, Mark studied electrical engineering at Purdue University before embarking on a long and distinguished career as a broadcast engineer, first in Richmond, VA., and then in Ann Arbor, MI. He settled in with National Public Radio in 1981, retiring in 2015 as Director of Engineering of the Public Radio Satellite System.

Mark first took up sailing as a student at Chesapeake Sailing School shortly after joining NPR; he was enthusiastically involved in racing by 1983, and soon afterward became an instructor at CSS, teaching from 1984 to 1990, including classes in Coastal Piloting & Navigation, sharing his love of sailing and its challenges with dozens of others.

It wasn’t long before he also became equally wholeheartedly involved in race management. This was an area where his quick intelligence, encyclopedic memory, and innate attention to detail served him – and the racing community – particularly well.

Over more than 30 years, Mark was an essential member of the Race Committees of both Annapolis Yacht Club and Eastport Yacht Club, and served several years as EYC’s Race Committee Chair. Early on, he earned certification as a US Sailing National Sailing Officer and World Sailing International Race Officer, and was one of the first US Sailing Senior Race Officers.

He served as Principal Race Officer for regattas ranging from small club events to the 2000 Star Worlds and at least a dozen iterations of the Santa Maria Cup International Women’s Match Racing Championships as well as numerous national and regional championships, pre-Olympic events, and the 2018 Annapolis to Bermuda Ocean Race.

In addition, he was often found in a variety of roles from Deputy PRO to mark boat captain to judge in regattas far too numerous to mention from California to the Chesapeake, and Canada to Florida, including service as PRO or Deputy PRO at the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta and World Cup Series Miami for most of the past two decades.

A gifted teacher who genuinely enjoyed sharing knowledge and skills with others, Mark served for more than 20 years on the US Sailing Race Management Committee and the Race Officer Training and Certification Subcommittee, and was well known throughout the Mid-Atlantic region as a capable instructor in all levels of race management.

His mentorship helped develop many other race officers and is a lasting legacy. He also served multiple three-year terms as US Sailing’s Area C Race Officer.

Mark had been a member of Eastport Yacht Club for only a few years when he was abruptly thrust into the role of Commodore in 1991, during a turbulent and exciting phase of EYC’s growth and development as the young club dealt with purchasing property and building its first clubhouse.

Along with a finely-tuned sense of humor, his cool head, and steady hand prevailed over the complex and sometimes contentious issues involved, and as his second term drew to a close in October 1992, the new clubhouse opened for business.

Never one to seek the spotlight for himself, since that heady and hectic time Mark remained a steadying influence from the background, acting quietly as a senior advisor to subsequent Commodores with patience and skill. Although he didn’t interject often, whenever he did speak up his insightful counsel was greatly appreciated.

Mark and his wife, Sandy Grosvenor, herself a noted international race official, married in 1994 and were an impressive and perfectly balanced team in all things, whether ashore or afloat in a series of powerboats named Road Trip, which they used for various race management tasks as well as travel and adventure.

Mark’s interests ashore spanned a wide range. In younger years, he was very active in live theater production, participating in all aspects including lighting and sound design, set construction and painting, and running productions as stage manager, from high school productions to community theater and fully staged operas for Opera DC and the Annapolis Opera.

A licensed ham radio operator since 1969, he held an Amateur Extra class license, and was an active member of the Anne Arundel Radio Club for many years. He also supported the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore as a volunteer in the machine shop and a docent in the museum.

In addition to Sandy, Mark is survived by his brother Pete Murphy and nephew Bobby Smith. He was predeceased by his parents, Bob and Sally Murphy, and his sister, Terry Murphy Smith.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Eastport Yacht Club Foundation (www.eycfoundation.org), the Annapolis Yacht Club Foundation (www.aycfoundation.org) or CRAB-Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (www.crabsailing.org) in Mark’s memory.

A memorial will be held on Friday, June 26, at Eastport Yacht Club in Annapolis. It also will be livestreamed. For more information, go to www.eastportyc.org. To leave online condolences, go to www.johnmtaylorfuneralhome.com.

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