gone from our sight

Terrific friend and sailor Rick Merriman does a wonderful job here sharing his thoughts on the passing of Bill Bennett. God damn, life is just so unfair so many times…

bill bennettWilliam (Billy) Bennett (1965-2014) The sailing community lost a great friend and sailor on 17 June 2014 after a tragic accident.  Billy Bennett was a skipper’s crew. With a competitive spirit who hated to lose and his sharp eye for details both on and off the boat, he was instrumental getting many top programs to the podium. He was known by so many because he had the uncanny ability to excel in many different classes and types of boats.

Billy was involved with sailing starting at a very young age. His father, Pete Bennett a great sailor and sail maker, along with his mother, Sally would bring Billy to Star regattas as a young child, which set the stage for Billy’s future.  A very talented athlete, he was an All-County quarterback and baseball player. However it was sailing that won his heart.

Billy’s sentimental favorite boat was the Star. He competed for many years at the top culminating in two 5th place finishes in the Star Worlds. He was a top contender in the Etchells 22 and has been a part of the Jaguar Series in Miami since it’s founding. He was on the winning team for the Etchells 22 Worlds in 2000. He was also on the winning Boat of the Week for Key West Race Week 2000.

Billy was always full of stories and his great memory never spared anyone from becoming the center of one of them. This also made for Billy being a great asset as a crew. He would remember all the rig tune numbers and what the local weather conditions were in the past.

Moving on to more coaching in recent years his great eye off the boat and support for his team were second to none. He called it like it was, which might not have been popular but it was always on the mark and helped to bring the team to the front of the pack.

He was the most loyal sports fan for all the San Diego pro and college teams. He attended as many games as he could and caught the ones on TV he missed. After a long day of sailing he loved to have a “Billy Night” which was comprised of watching football, enjoying a few beers, and most of all being with his friends.

He will be long remembered by his family and friends, for his love of their families and children. He loved children; especially around Christmas time he would dress up as Santa Claus and come over to spread his cheer.

He is survived by his loving wife Leslie, brothers John and Michael, and sister Cathy Hervey.

Sail on my friend, you touched so many lives and will be forever in our thoughts.

Rick Merriman