In the early hours of Saturday morning, our race committee received the news that a sailor aboard one of our entrant boats had lost his life. The news was sobering and sad. It will be with us for a long time, if not forever.
We didn’t know Simon Smith personally, but he had deep roots in our sailing community and the tributes show that he was very highly regarded.
We have learned that Simon was a teacher and sailing coach at Westlake Boys’ High School for more than 30 years. He had sailed in the first Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race.
He was a husband, father, and friend to many of the sailors in our race.
In his classic boating blog, Alan Houghton said “Simon was one of the finest men I have had the pleasure to meet via the classic boating movement. From the first meeting – Simon a true blue yachtie, made me a launch owner, very welcome, we continued to converse regularly and he wore his WW cap well.”
Westlake headmaster David Ferguson said, “He was also a much-loved colleague with a great sense of humour and an incredible knowledge of New Zealand history.”
Ferguson described Smith as a “Westlake legend”, saying the school wouldn’t be the same without him.
Yachting New Zealand chief executive David Abercrombie said, “I knew Simon from my time at Westlake Boys and he was a remarkable person and a much-loved teacher, husband, father and friend.”
Simon’s obituary says that he was “doing what he loved best, on the ocean in a yacht, sailing up the coast. A strong, caring, fearless man who will be missed by everyone he met.”
Simon's obituary suggests that donations can made to Coastguard in Simon’s memory.
Our thoughts and love are with Simon’s crew, family and friends. Words cannot express our sorrow and as organisers of the Coastal Classic, the NZMYC are working with Police and Maritime NZ to assist with their enquiries.