Sadly we have to announce the recent death of Brian Saffrey Cooper. Brian was a longstanding member of Tamesis very successfully sailing two merlins – Buccaneer and then Racketeer. He joined Tamesis in the 1950s. His father was also a member and presented the Geoff Cooper Memorial Trophy which is raced for on the last Sunday of the Merlin Winter Series.
Brian went on to sail Finns, winning the English Nationals, the Finn Gold Cup, and representing Great Britain in Finn at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.
He started offshore racing in the 1970s, competing in the Fastnet Race in 1979 where they saved the boat by throwing out a sea anchor to slow the boat down. He was twice a member of the Admiral Cup team, including the winning team in 1982.
Thanks to Colin Stokes for the following:
Brian sailed, mainly, three Merlins, Joy, Racketeer and Buccaneer. He sailed Joy with his dad, Geoff, before and during his National Service in the Navy.
When the Merlin Association voted to allow reduced rig height and compensatory increases in sail area, Brian and Geoff chopped 2′ 6″ off the top of Joys mast and this became the Topmast Trophy, presented for inter club Merlin team racing.
After being demobbed he couldn’t afford a new boat so he bought an old one, Racketeer, off Bob Hoare. He took the stem out, removed the transom, added an additional top strake and rebuilt the boat. He now had a Merlin that was 8″ wider and more powerful on open water.
In 1958 Salcombe had agreed that the Merlins could have their own start in Regatta Week and Brian wanted to have a go, but he had no way of getting there. So he and a mate filled Racketeer with camping gear and set off down the Thames and round North Foreland (!)
First stop was Rye Harbour for the Conquerors Pint, second stop was Bognor Regis for the Bognor Barrel – which they won!!!!
After adding a makeshift trapeze to the boat and having various adventures they arrived at Salcombe where they won the regatta !! He won the regatta again in 1960.
In 1958 he took Racketeer to the Championships, having fitted a centre mainsheet, the first in the class, and came third.
Next came a period campaigning Finns. In 1964 he won the British Championships and the Olympic trials, thence representing the UK in the Tokyo Olympics, competing against Andre Nelis and Paul Elvstrom.
He then went into offshore racing and was a member of a British winning team in the Admirals Cup.
Latterly he and Pam spent most of their time cruising from their base in the West Indies. They would have the boat shrink wrapped (!) in the off season and return to, first, Blackheath and, later, their house, near Egypt Point, in Cowes.
His funeral was on the Island and attended by about 130 friends and family.