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Remembering Alastair Anderson

07 Feb 2022 3:18 PM | Millar (Administrator)


1949 - 2021


Words by Bill Roberts

Past-member Alastair Anderson died last week after a short illness in Perth, Australia where he and his wife Maureen had moved a few years ago.

I have a lot to blame thank Alastair for. Having played badminton with Alastair and Maureen for many years, in 1981, Alastair restarted Grace’s interest in sailing when he asked her to crew in his recently acquired Skua. Alastair had joined ELYC a season or so earlier sailing a Fireball. Sailing with his friend Tony, the Fireball had been rescued almost as often as it was launched, and Alastair was keen to find a more stable boat which could still provide some excitement – the legendary “Skua Wind”.

A couple seasons later, Alastair introduced me to sailing when I took Grace’s berth after she went off on maternity leave. With Alastair’s guidance I learnt how to recover a broken mast in a force 5 wind; sail a regatta race with a broken gooseneck; and most impressively, cross the start line last but finish first without overtaking any other boats (this relies on the rest of the fleet starting on the 1min gun!). With better crew onboard (Richard Jones and then his son Graeme), Alastair went on to win the Skua World Championship in ’88 and again in ’95 – the only person to win the Silver Skua in a full fibreglass (very much overweight) boat.

Alastair and his family took a full part in club life with Carrie and Graeme learning to sail – and Maureen taking a turn serving the Saturday afternoon teas – different times!. Alastair served as auditor and as Rescue Officer in the days when the blue launch was manhandled into the store under the Club for its winter maintenance and make-over. Alastair saw this as payback for the number of times the blue launch had rescued him in the Fireball.

Alastair’s interest in bigger boats was fostered crewing for friends on local yachts and led to his title “Mattroid Man” (half man / half mattress) for his ability to sleep through the night-time rigours of a Bell Rock Race. He chartered yachts in Yugoslavia and Greece for family holidays and he kept a Hunter Club 19 in the harbour and later a Jeanneau Fantasia 27 in Largs – bigger boat sailing was much more to Maureen’s liking than the dinghy.

And so, it was once again Alastair who introduced me to bigger boat sailing when our two families chartered a yacht in Corfu and set off for Navagio (Shipwreck Bay) on Zante – it was the only destination he asked to be included in the trip and we made it despite the onboard charts stopping a little short of the bay. The boat was a wreck (before we got it) and when the main halyard came off the sheave at the top of the mast. Alastair stepped forward without hesitation and offered to work the winch.

Another of Alastair’s unique achievements with the Skua was to tow it from North Berwick to Portugal as he and Maureen gradually moved away from North Berwick toward Australia via a spell in Lagos. In Lagos, Alastair sailed the Skua; added surfing to his list of sporting interests; and crewed with our own Brian Cameron (sadly late of this parish )

For those of you who knew him, I hope my reflections help stimulate your own happy memories of his gentle, big smile.

Thanks, Big Al.

East Lothian Yacht Club | 36-40 Victoria Road | The Harbour | North Berwick | East Lothian | EH39 4JL

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