The catamaran guru passes away
Brightlingsea’s most famous son, Reg White, Olympic Tornado gold medallist and one the world’s most renowned catamaran sailors and boat builders, died last Thursday aged 74.
For more than five decades Reg White was at the sharp end of the performance catamaran world, initially earning a reputation in the ‘Little America’s Cup’ raced in C-Class catamarans. In the third event, held in 1963, White successfully defended the trophy at the helm of Hellcat 3 and in subsequent years went on to campaign famous defenders such as Emma Hamilton and Lady Helmsman finally losing the Cup to the Danish Opus III in 1969.
White is of course best known for winning the first ever catamaran gold medal at the Olympic Games, following the Tornado’s introduction for Montreal in 1976.
In Olympic circles, White was well known as a builder of Tornado catamarans while with C-Class designer Rod MacAlpine-Downie he created a range of performance cruising catamarans from the 23ft Aztec up to the 41ft Apache, built in Brightlingsea on the UK's east coast by his company SailCraft
White was indirectly responsible for my childhood sailing. Back in the early 1970s my father Patrick fitted out the shell of a SailCraft-built Mk1 Iroquois catamaran in our garden, resulting in the book ‘Catamarans in Close-Up’. This was subsequently replaced by a Mk2 Iroquois, the vehicle for countless Boyd family holidays.
White subsequently set up shop with French fellow Tornado Gold medallist and designer Yves Loday, creating numerous boats from the early F18, the Hawk, to the Hurricane and more recently the Shadow, Spitfire and Storm.
Perhaps most impressive is the dynasty that Reg White left behind him. Son Rob was a long term Tornado sailor and more recently grandson Henry, one of 14 grandchildren, is spearheading their company Swell Catamarans.
Through his life, Reg made a huge impact in the world of catamarans. His departure is a sad loss for the sport and he will be sadly missed.
A memorial service is to be held in Brightlingsea on either 14 or 15 June.
Read Bob Fisher's in depth obituary of Reg here.