Tributes paid to a ‘true explorer’

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  • Warren Brown photographed during his final interview this month in the wake of Bermuda being awarded the 2017 America’s Cup (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)

    Warren Brown photographed during his final interview this month in the wake of Bermuda being awarded the 2017 America’s Cup (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)


Warren Brown, one of Bermuda’s most successful sailors and a well-known businessmen, has died.

Mr Brown, who was 85, passed away on Christmas Day in the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

Mr Brown logged more than 300,000 miles in his War Baby ocean racers and was one of the most prominent figures in local sailing.

He represented the Island at the 1972 Munich Olympics and managed the Bermuda team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

Roger Davidson, former chairman of Bermuda Press (Holdings), the parent company of The Royal Gazette, paid tribute to Mr Brown’s talents as a businessman.

Mr Davidson said: “He was a consummate entrepreneur — he was always thinking ahead and he had great ideas.

“He was a good Bermudian businessman and set up and ran a lot of companies over the years. Some were successful and others were ahead of their time.”

Mr Davidson added: “He travelled a lot, sailed his boat around the world and I’m sure he got business ideas from that.”

He said that, in addition to a printing firm, Mr Brown’s interests included, at one time, a hardware business.

Mr Davidson said: “This was at a time when Bermuda was growing and he provided employment for Bermudians.

“We were competitors, but I also got on with him.

Mr Brown, a former Commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, took part in a total of 20 Newport to Bermuda ocean races in 11 different boats, including four owned by him.

And his love of the sea took him to both ends of the earth, from some of the most remote parts of South America to the North Pole.

He also took part in the gruelling Fastnet race in the UK eight times and transatlantic competitions.

During his sailing career, he broke course records for the Marion to Bermuda race and the Middle Sea race. Paul Doughty, ocean sailor and sailing coach, said: “He was a fantastic guy, a true explorer, adventurer, yachtsman and sailor.

“He was the kind of guy who knew how to run a boat in the middle of the ocean in the most extreme conditions.”

Mr Doughty added: “He also survived a hurricane in the Gulf Stream on his boat 47 and he also sailed to the Arctic from the Antarctic, did work for the Chilean navy and knew everybody you could ever conceive of at the top end of yachting.

“He is arguably one of the greatest sailors we have ever produced and we will sadly miss his presence in terms of his influence, even in his later years.”

And he said: “Warren was always a big backer of Bermudians advancing themselves in sailing and back in the early 1970s he was taking children across the Atlantic who had very little ocean racing experience.”

Somers Kempe, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Commodore and ocean sailor, said: “Warren Brown was a Bermudian sailor really of no equal.

“He was an adventurer who put Bermuda on the map wherever he’s gone and inspired generations of sailors.

“He’s an irreplaceable figure who is going to be sadly missed by the club. But his exploits and his travels will be remembered forever.

“Warren Brown is an international Bermudian who travelled everywhere. He is known by many and will be missed by just as many.”

Alan Williams, ocean sailor and ex-Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club Commodore, said: “He had wonderful opportunities, which he took total advantage of.

“He was a great guy to sail with and I did a Marion to Bermuda Race with him years ago when we broke the record.

“My dad Herbert knew him through business for many years and he has been friends with the whole family for years.

“He is a great loss to the sailing fraternity and the who’s who of sailing from the 1960s right along through to now will know of Warren Brown, respect him, and probably will have learned something from him as well.”

Mr Brown’s first experience of the sea, however, was almost his last.

As a three-month-old baby, born prematurely in America and en route to Bermuda from New York with his mother Mabel on the RMS Fort Victoria, he was rescued along with 269 passengers and 165 crew after it was rammed in thick fog by the SS Algonquin.

Years later, Mr Brown left Bermuda to attend Yale University and went straight into business on his return, joining the family firm, the Archie Brown & Son clothing store on Front Street.

He also started Preview Magazine with Ann Brown and Roxanna Kaufmann, and founded Island Press with Donald French, which later produced the Bermuda Sun newspaper.

In addition, Mr Brown opened the Hog Penny Pub and introduced Marks & Spencer to Bermuda.

He also headed the team that introduced the Junior Chamber, known as Jaycees, a US-founded leadership training and civic organisation, to Bermuda. Mr Brown was later elected as world president of the organisation.

During his tenure, he was credited with bringing Newfoundland into the movement and he helped reunite the French and English speaking Jaycees in Canada.

Mr Brown also served as a member of the board of the Young President`s Organisation.

He played a key role in securing that prestigious global network of young chief executives’ international convention for Bermuda in 1976.

Guest speakers at the Bermuda event included former British Prime Minister Edward Heath and Israeli war hero and future Defence Minister Moshe Dayan.

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Published Dec 27, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 27, 2014 at 8:45 am)

Tributes paid to a ‘true explorer’

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