MIKE WILLIAMSON 1932 – 2020
Mike died on Tuesday 3 November.
Mike was born in 1932 and it was in the early 60s that he entered into Dragon sailing, crewing for Nicky Streeter in his newly launched Sandpiper for the 1966 Poole Bay Olympic training week – they won all six races! Writing at the time Yachting World reported; ‘New Names at the top. The success of the week – and the surprise – was the performance of Nicholas Streeter and his new Pedersen and Theusen ‘Sandpiper’ crewed by Mike Williamson and Graham King’.
This was the start of what was to become a long-standing Dragon partnership over the next 35 years, during which no less than nine Dragons, (nearly all named ‘Sandpiper’), earned them more than a fair share of successes which included winning the prestigious Edinburgh Cup twice, as well as a number of International regatta successes including 2nd at the Gold Cup and 6th at the Worlds of 1973, and a well-deserved entry into Dragon history!
Mike was Honorary Secretary of the International Dragon Association from 1997 to 2001 and was the last to serve in this unpaid role. He was an efficient and dedicated administrator and with his legal background he made a significant contribution to many aspects of the IDA including updating the Sailing Instructions for major events, the Regatta Guidelines, and the IDA Constitution. He travelled far and wide to regattas around the World and was always willing and able to give advice and support to the National Associations with whom he maintained regular contact. Mike was Vice Chairman in 2001/2.
As well as always crewing for Nicky, when time permitted, Mike also enthusiastically sailed his Sunbeam in Itchenor (always saying it was the only opportunity he had to helm!).
The partnership ‘retired’ from Dragon ownership in early 2000 but not to be deterred borrowed ‘Jerboa’ to compete in the International Dragon Class 75th Anniversary Regatta in 2003 in St Tropez.
Gavia recalls; it is thanks to Mike and Nicky not only that I had years of fun crewing for them, but that my love of sailing the international Dragon circuit was born. In lending Jerboa to Mike and Nicky, and once again crewing for them, at the 75th, I was invited to take Jerboa to the Yacht Club de Cannes for the forthcoming winter series. I asked Mike if he would ‘mind’ driving Jerboa to Cannes, as against back to UK. Mike obliged, we drove to Cannes, left the boat – and the rest as they say is history! I now (well not in 2020!) regularly enjoy a busy international sailing schedule.
Stavros recalls; there was an occasion, some 20 years ago, that he called upon Mike’s crewing expertise to help him crew for an inexperienced Spanish helm at a regatta in Cascais. Typical Cascais huge winds, huge gusts and huge rolling seas! Following a spectacularly bad drop Mike, as bowman, found himself stuffing remains of spinnaker into the chute whilst hanging off the forestay ‘hanging on like a cat’ Stavros reports!. Returning into the cockpit Mike took to pumping – and in response to Stavros asking why he was facing aft, they both agreed they were too scared to look ahead at the surf!
Mike never lost his interest in the Dragon class. He closely followed the fortunes of the class both on and off the water, nationally and internationally. Up until a couple of years ago he regularly attended Cowes Week never missing the Dragon class socials as well as the annual dinner in London.
This tribute was prepared by Gavia Wilkinson-Cox, with contributions from Chris Dicker, Chris Brittain, Nicky Streeter, Stavros, Fiona Brown and Mike’s many other friends in the Dragon Class