Bruce Kirby Passes away

Bruce Kirby

July 20, 2021

A true Canadian Sailing Legend passed away on July 18th 2021 …  

Sailing legend Bruce Kirby passed away July 18, 2021. He was 92 years of age.

No one man has influenced the sport of sailing and helped shape its future as Bruce Kirby.

My phone rang at my apartment in 1971. On the line was Bruce Kirby who was trying to find me. Kirby said , Young Kerr I am going to the Olympic trials in Halifax, and I want you to come and sail with me in a Tempest. Up and until that call we had never met though I knew this great writer and designer. I followed his magazine in the day YACHT RACING and CRUISING, and I knew his fame on the rolls of the International 14 Fleet. He was a three-time Olympian and shared a room with Paul Henderson … Henderson always called him “Roomie.”

That dream opportunity to sail with Kirby got cancelled when his wife Margo took ill as I recall and Bruce ever faithful, caring, and watchful focused at home, but he never forgot me and made sure I got a ride with Bill Abbott in the Soling.

Kirby was always animated and self deprecating, design was not brain surgery was often his comment. Kirby drafted and designed International 14s , Ideal 18s, Kirby 25 and the Laser to name a few.

I found my self at the Quarter worlds In Texas .. in the offshore event we sadly parted our rudder, drifting all night we finally got back to the yacht club…. Our Kirby 25 was being lifted from the water and I anxiously looking at the damage and all that was left was the rudder stock….  then I felt a huge hand on my shoulder “Christ Young Kerr Kirby said, “I don’t think I designed it that way, might have to make a few calls”… and then he asked “you OK?”  

Most recently Kirby was recognized with the Order of Canada alongside his numerous sailing halls of fame (Canada, United States and International 14). As the story goes Kirby when he heard of the appointment said he had to hang up and call Rideau Hall just in case someone wasn’t pranking him.”  

Bruce leaves his wife Margo and daughters Janice (Kirby) Duffy and Kelly Kirby. He is also survived by 2 grand-daughters, Shannon and Karen Duffy and his sister, Beverley Brown

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 -John Kerr

President, Kerrwil Publications Limited


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