Olympic Sailor Jordy Walker Dies

December 13, 2010

Following a battle with cancer, Olympic sailor and International IOD Sailing Class President B.W. “Jordy” Walker died at age 71.

Born on May 7, 1939, he went on to become an instrumental figure in Bermuda sailing – both on and off the water. He competed in the in Mixed Three Person Keelboat at the 1972 Summer Olympics, placing 15th. He also participated in a supporting role in the 1992 Olympics, and was responsible for the design and building of fitted dinghies ‘Spirit’ and ‘Bloodhound’.

Mr. Walker, a past Commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, was one of the founding Directors and later twice President and Secretary of the World Match Racing Association, during which he travelled extensively at his own expense promoting and organising the association. He worked on reformatting the King Edward VII Gold Cup here in Bermuda, including moving the racing to the spectator-friendly Hamilton Harbour from the Great Sound and introducing the use of water umpiring to the event. Mr Walker worked with various committees and assocations including the Bermuda’s Olympic Association and Sports Hall of Fame Committees.

The Gold Cup is the oldest match-racing trophy in the world for competition involving one-design yachts. It was first presented at the Tri-Centenary Regatta at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1907 by King Edward VII in commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the first permanent settlement in America. In 2006  Mr. Walker was presented with the Wedgwood Heritage Trophy by race organisers in recognition of the vital role he played in the renaissance of the modern Gold Cup. He provided the initial underwriting funding and piloted changes into the modern professional format in 1989. Presenting the Heritage Trophy to him was an important recognition of his key contribution to the event’s revival.

An architect for OBM, Mr Walker passed on his love of sailing to his son Blythe Walker, who followed in his father’s footsteps competed in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in the Men’s Two Person Dinghy event.

Mr Walker received the Llew Gibbons Trophy at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Annual fleet racing Prize Giving in 2008, pictured below in a photo courtesy of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club:

Alt_RBYCnews-GibbonsTrophy

Then Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Commodore Ralph Richardson said: “Jordy’s role in keeping Saturday fleet racing and the Gold Cup alive grew largely by his commitment to the IOD, which began in 1974 when he purchased ‘Seahorse’ and restored her. The fleet, which began in Bermuda in 1937, at one point had only four boats. In typical Jordy fashion, he hired two boat builders from Maine to get the rebuilding of the class started. Eventually with help from others he took over the rebuilding project which led to the completion of 12 new boats. Jordy worked tirelessly at his profession as an architect by day, then as a boat builder at Dockyard from 10 pm to 5 am, returning home for a few hours sleep before heading off to work.”

Mr Richardson added: “Jordy has given abundantly of his time and resources over many years to sailing in both Bermuda and on the international stage. Jordy’s commitment to the sport of sailing is unshakable. He has earned his place as one of Bermuda’s most committed supporters of the sport of sailing.”

Yesterday Somers Cooper, past Bermuda Sailing Association President, said “Jordy was one of the most unselfish, hardest working supporters of the sport of Sailing in Bermuda. A complete gentleman, Jordy was also clever, kind and had a great sense of humour. He will be truly missed.”

Mr. Walker is survived by his wife, Mary and three children. The couple were longstanding members of Bermuda’s Baha’i community.

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  1. Nicole says:

    Thanks Pat and team – this is a great tribute to Jordy. He will be sorely missed by all the sailing community along with Dick Kempe who also passed last week :(

  2. God bless the family he will be miss my he rest in peace.