Eight Bells: Bob Fisher
Published on January 26th, 2021
Bob Fisher, the larger-than-life yachtsman, journalist, and author, crossed the bar peacefully on January 25 surrounded by family in Lymington, Hampshire UK. He was 85.
Bob Fisher was born and bred in the coastal town of Brightlingsea, Essex UK and made sailing his life, engaged by stories from the professional Brightlingsea fishermen who crewed the big yachts of their day, including Sir Thomas Sopwith’s two British J Class America’s Cup challengers Endeavour and Endeavour II in 1934 and ’37.
He first made a name as a top crew, winning seven national and world titles in the National Hornet and Fireball high performance dinghy classes. He also won the International Yacht Racing Union trials to select a 2-man trapeze catamaran trials with his Brightlingsea friend Reg White which led to the Tornado being chosen as the first Olympic multihull class.
White was Britain’s top multihull sailor, and it was on his recommendation that Bob went on to claim international fame, winning the 1967 Little America’s Cup in C-Class catamarans, racing the British defender Lady Helmsman with Peter Schneidau against the Australian challenger Quest III, winning the series in dominant style 4:1.
Bob’s prize was an all-expenses paid trip to Newport, Rhode Island to watch the American 12m yacht Intrepid beat the Australian challenger Dame Pattie in the real America’s Cup. It led to a life-long obsession with Bob covering all the matches since, bar the current racing off Auckland.
The author of 30 books on all aspects of the sport, they including eight covering The Whitbread/Volvo Round the World Race and 1986 Book of the Sea award winning tome – Greatest Race: Official Story of the Whitbread Round the World Race, 1985-86 – and seven on the America’s Cup.
In 1992, Bob set about to write the definite history of the America’s Cup, supported by that year’s Cup winner, American philanthropist Bill Koch. The 2-volume An Absorbing Interest took 15 years to research and write and has become the go-to opus to answer any question about the Cup. His latest work, An Absorbing Interest Vol III, covering the past two decades of Cup Races is due to be published in the autumn.
Bob’s greatest hope had been to see Britain finally win back the famous ewer first competed for in 1851 in a race around the Isle of Wight. That has not happened in his lifetime, but he did follow the INEOS Team UK come-back from oblivion in preliminary races in Auckland before Christmas to win a place in the finals of the Prada Cup challenge trials, and was cheered even more by Sir Ben’s last race dedication to our Mr America’s Cup.
The final chapter of Bob’s last book may yet record his greatest wish fulfilled.
Bob Fisher is survived by his wife Dee, two children Alice and Carolyne, three grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Donations in Bob Fisher’s memory are welcomed to be sent to the Sir Thomas Lipton Foundation with a very brief reason why: http://www.sirthomasliptonfoundation.org/
Messages and condolences are welcome on Bob Fisher’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bob.fisher.167527
1958: 1st Hornet World Championship: John Partridge/Bob Fisher
1961: 1st Hornet National championship: John Partridge/Bob Fisher
1965: 1st Hornet National championship: Mike Patten/Bob Fisher
1966: 1st Fireball World Championship: Colin McKenzie/Bob Fisher
1966: 1st Hornet National championship: Terry Wade/Bob Fisher
1967: Winners – Little America’s Cup – Lady Helmsman – Peter Schneidau/Bob Fisher
1969: 1st Hornet National Championship: Colin McKenzie/Bob Fisher
1970: 1st Hornet World Championship: Colin McKenzie/Bob Fisher
1989: 1st Class IV – 2-man Round Britain Race: Bob Fisher/Sir Robin Knox-Johnston
• Trustee of the Sir Thomas Lipton Foundation
• Former Chairman of the Yachting Journalists’ Association (YJA)
• A founder member of the Society of International Nautical Scribes (SINS)
• America’s Cup Hall of Fame selection panelist
• Rolex/World Sailing World Sailor of the Year selection panelist
Books by Bob Fisher:
1. Small Boat Racing with the Champions
2. Learning to Sail
3. Crewing racing dinghies and keelboats by Bob Fisher (1976-08-01)
4. Better Sailing – with Ted Hood
5. Catamaran Racing – with Reg White
6. The Longest Race: Whitbread Round the World Race – with Peter Cook
7. The Admiral’s Cup by Bob Fisher (1985-12-02)
8. Fastnet Disaster and After
9. 12-metre Images
10. Beken of Cowes: The New Ocean Thoroughbreds – with A. Keith Beken,
11. Grandes courses oceanes
12. The Armchair Sailor
13. La voile sans problem
14. The America’s Cup 1987 : The Official Record – with Bob Ross
15. America’s Cup The ACC Yachts 1992-2007 – with Karl Urtz
16. Sailing on the Edge: America’s Cup
17. Der America’s Cup: Eine Regatta setzt Maßstäbe
18. An Absorbing Interest – The America’s Cup – A History 1851-2003 2Vs
19. The Poisoned Chalice: Dirty Tricks and Double-Crossing at the Heart of the America’s Cup
20. Greatest Race: Official Story of the Whitbread Round the World Race, 1985-86
21. Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race 1985-86: Official Souvenir Edition
22. Great Yacht Races
23. La voile sans problème
24. Faster and Faster: Story of the Whitbread Round the World Race, 1993-94 – with Barry Pickthall
25. Ocean Conquest: The Official Story of the Whitbread Round the World Race, Past, Present and Future – with Barry Pickthall
26. The Greatest Race: The Official Story of the Whitbread Round-The-World Race 1985/1986
27. Volvo Race Regatas Legendarias – with Barry Pickthall,
28. The Fabulous 40s: A History of the Farr 40 Class 1996-2011
29. Les légendes de la voile – with Barry Pickthall
30. Sailing Legends – with Barry Pickthall