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Sailing stalwart Walker dies

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Jordy Walker, a former Olympic sailor and ex-Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Commodore, died on Saturday after a nine month battle with throat cancer He was aged 71

One of the most prominent figures in the history of local sailing, Walker competed at the 1972 Olympics in Munich and was a team manager for Bermuda at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona

He also made a tremendous contribution to international sailing and was a founding director, and later twice president and secretary, of the World Match Racing Association

Walker was responsible for the design and building of fitted dinghies Spirit and Bloodhound and revamped the format of the King Edward VII Gold Cup, which included moving the racing from the Great Sound into the spectator friendly Hamilton Harbour

By introducing the Onion Patch Series, Walker revitalised the Newport to Bermuda Race and was instrumental in helping rebuild the International One Design (IOD) fleet and was president of that class until he died

The longest serving member of Bermuda's Olympic Association, Walker had also been on the Sports Hall of Fame Committee since its inception

His son Blythe, one of the Island's top sailors, said the family had been “astounded” by the reams of letters they had received over the past few months from people whom Walker had helped mentor

“Jordy's passion for sailing was legendary,” he said, “as Commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club he brushed aside all of the age old traditions of the ‘men only' club and invited women and people of all backgrounds to join

“The number of letters we have received over the past months has astounded us, he mentored so many people either through sailing or architecture He introduced so many people to the sport of sailing”

Blythe described his father as a ‘man of integrity who inspired people to heights they did not think they could reach' He said the Bahá'í Faith had also played an important role in his father's life

“The other important part of his life was his relationship with the Bahá'í community He became a Bahá'í in 1977 which really helped focus his life on service and led to his desire to help so many”

Walker's wife, Mary, said a real passion of her husband's had been developing young sailors on the Island from all backgrounds

“He revamped the Bermuda Yachting Association, a pre-curser to the Bermuda Sailing Association, because he was very concerned that the youth were not getting sufficient attention to make them really good sailors,” she said

“He brought an executive director (Chuck Milligan) here to really focus on the youth and that's why we've had a lot more youngsters going to the Olympics and youth regattas

“He really supported the Island's youth”

Walker was an architect for OBM throughout his working life His uncle, Wil Onions, was Bermuda's pre-eminent architect, who designed City Hall where Walker's Memorial Service will be held on Thursday

The brother in-law of six-time IOD world champion Penny Simmons, Walker also leaves behind his two daughters Samantha and Elizabeth and seven grandchildren Jordan, Leyli, Ethan, Joshua, Anisa, Maxwell and Dylan

A Bahá'í burial service will be held at the Walker burial plot at St John's Church Cemetery on Wednesday

B.W. Jordy Walker
Racing: Jordy Walker skippers the Bermuda fitted dinghy Bloodhound in 2004. Photo by Kyle Hunter

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Published December 13, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 13, 2010 at 11:19 am)

Sailing stalwart Walker dies

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