Walker’s legacy hailed by Coutts
By Colin Thompson
Jordy Walker's vision to bring the America's Cup to Bermuda has been fulfilled.
In the 1980s, the late sailor laid the groundwork that ultimately led to Bermuda being awarded the 35th America's Cup.
Through a collaboration with others, the past Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Commodore helped form the World Match Racing Association and introduce professional sailors to the Argo Group Gold Cup held annually in local waters.
Competing in World Match Racing Tour events such as the Gold Cup went a long way towards moulding the careers of accomplished sailors such as Sir Russell Coutts, of New Zealand, who is a five-times America's Cup winner.
“It was through that event and others like it that we, as sailors, were able to practice and refine our match racing techniques,” Coutts said. “Jordy was responsible for getting the Bermuda Gold Cup to where it is today. It would never have happened without his enthusiasm and support.”
Blythe Walker, the son of Jordy Walker, said: “Russell had a good relationship with my father.
“I think Jordy recruited him as a racing engineer graduate and he was a pretty hotshot match racer, coming here and racing in the Gold Cup many years ago and subsequently going on to win seven of them.”
Had it not been for the integral role Walker played in revamping the Gold Cup in the mid-Eighties, Bermuda's bid to host the America's Cup would have been shipwrecked.
“The America's Cup would never have come to Bermuda if the Gold Cup hadn't provided the sailors a platform to experience the local conditions and learn about the infrastructure on the Island,” Coutts said.
“Bermuda is different to how many people perceive it, especially if they have not had the opportunity to travel to and stay on the Island. So through Jordy's work, he allowed many of us to discover Bermuda for what it really represents.”
Blythe Walker added: “The Gold Cup attracted a lot of these America's Cup sailors and just going back to how we got the America's Cup and the groundwork laid, had those sailors not come through Bermuda, experienced our hospitality, the quality of the conditions and the beauty of the Island, we would not have not even been on the map.
“People would have laughed at the proposal from Bermuda.”
Sadly, Walker did not live to see his vision of Bermuda hosting America's Cup racing come to fruition. He died in December 2010 at the age of 71.
“He is dancing on high, I can assure you,” Blythe Walker said. “He's excited and his dream of bringing the America's Cup here is probably a lot sooner than he would have expected.
“In his usual, humble state he would claim no part in it or credit. But he definitely laid some groundwork and was well-respected throughout the international yachting community for his character, vision and drive.
“I think those qualities are things that continue to inspire many.”