Loss of a legend

South African solo round the world sailor Bertie Reed loses his fight with cancer

Friday December 22nd 2006, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
South African yachtsman and singlehanded round the world racer Bertie Reed (aka Biltong Bertie) died on Monday aged 63, after a fight with cancer.

Reed began his sailing career while serving in the South African Navy in the early 1960s but entered the limelight on the international yacht racing stage when he competed in the first BOC Challenge singlehanded round the world race in 1982/83. In an age prior to the Vendee Globe and the current proliferation of round the world events, the BOC Challenge was the first race of its kind since the one-off Sunday Times Golden Globe non-stop event in 1968/9. In the first BOC Challenge Reed sailed the 50 footer Altech Voortrekker and despite the boat being originally built for the 1968 OSTAR and her skipper suffering from blood poisoning, he finished second overall behind French sailing legend Philippe Jeantot.

Reed competed in the subsequent two BOC Challenges and the first Vendee Globe, in the latter races about the Roger Martin designed Grinaker. In the Vendee Reed was forced to withdraw with rudder problems and in his third BOC Challenge came perhaps the most memorable moment in his career when he rescued his fellow countryman and protege in the navy (the duo competed together on Voortreeker II in the two handed Round Britain and Ireland Race in 1982), John Martin, who's extreme Open 60 Allied Bank was sinking after a collision with an iceberg on the second leg across the Southern Ocean. For this Reed was presented with South Africa's highest civilian award for bravery, the Wolraad Woltemade Decoration.

After retiring from solo offshore racing Reed earlier this year was back on the water with Martin, sailing the navy entry MTU Fascination of Power on Table Bay in the Senior's Pursuit Race.

Reed leaves behind him wife Pat, four children and three grandchildren.

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