(20th March 1942 – 26th Jan 2024)
Roger was a Flying 15 legend, a successful business owner, a keen hockey player and an all-round accomplished sportsman. For the benefit of others he put back into the sports he loved more than he took out.
Roger attended Cambridge University and was part of their successful Sailing team. I’m sure it was team racing which honed Rogers renowned sailing skills. It was at Cambridge where he met his future wife and crew Barbara.
Having served his apprenticeship in Enterprises and Fireballs, where, of course, he was also a legend, he and Barbara bought their first Flying 15, Four Leaf Clover, in 1986 and immediately were at the front of a competitive HISC fleet. Three more brand new Flying 15s followed over a period of 35 years: 3215 Ffascination, 3615 Saffina and 3951 Saffari. Roger eventually and reluctantly for health reasons hung up his sailing boots in 2020.
He served the class as UK president in 1996-98 and FFI Commodore 1999-2002. During his tenure, he helped sort out a lot of measurement issues and along with Nils Bluuman was instrumental in setting up the first European championships in Port de Pollenca in 2004. He was awarded the Uffa Fox medal for outstanding contribution to the Flying Fifteen class in 2011.
Roger competed in seven world championships and many UK Nationals, always (except once) with his wife and super-crew Barbara at the front end. He and Barbara gained 8th place in Dublin in the 2003 worlds, but their best result was runner-up at the 1997 Nationals at Cowes, out of a fleet of 97 boats! Roger was also the excellent Principal Race Officer for the FF worlds at Hayling in 2011 when a record 110 boats competed.
Roger won several Cowes weeks and Chichester Harbour Fed weeks, usually with Barbara but on quite a few occasions with his daughter Helen at the front.
At Hayling, Roger was affectionately known as “Club Champ.” This was down to the incredible number of wins he achieved in lots of different classes, but also due to his amazing tactical knowledge of Chichester harbour. How many times did I see “The Palmers” on the other side of a channel and realise it was too late to swap. More times than not they would be miles ahead at the next mark.
Being someone who always wanted to share knowledge and encourage others, Roger talked and wrote some wonderful articles about racing in Chi harbour. One, I recall, had the wonderful title of “When the Winner doesn’t take it all,” referring to the rare times when it does not pay to cross the infamous “Winner” sand bank at the entrance of Chichester harbour.
Roger loved a home-made cake and was always keen for tea and cake following a regatta or Fed week race. “Greg” or “Mr Race Officer Sir” (as he would often say), “The Saffina Cake Company has produced some fine rock cakes today - please come and join us by the boat and invite your race team”.
Roger was the epitome of calmness with a lovely soft and mellow voice, whether chairing a tricky AGM as Commodore of HISC, in a tense racing situation, running a 100+ fleet regatta in difficult conditions, or as an international juror handling an emotional protest. One always felt wiser and satisfied after any dealings or conversation with Roger.
Roger was particularly wonderful and encouraging when asked for advice especially when it came to boat tuning. He would put a hand on the shroud: “Feels a bit tight Greg – boats like to breathe”. “What’s all this sailing over the ocean – keep the tiller straight.” “Which way today, Roger?” “I can’t see the point of sailing in dirty wind - there are fewer boats over there; it should be cleaner wind and more enjoyable.” To quote but a few.
Thank you, Roger. You were an inspirational friend who will be sadly missed by us all.
FFI Commodore 2011 - 2017