When you lose someone who meant so much to a sport and who, in his own quiet and methodical way, gave so much, it’s time to pause and reflect. Steve Tupper my old Olympic team and national coach, passed away on Monday July 4th of complications from Parkinson’s. Born in 1941 Tupper rose to love the sport through his days sailing as a youngster building and racing numerous boats from Sabots to Dragons. He made our country’s Olympic sailing team in 1968.
I met Tupper as a young sailor in Halifax in 1972 where as our national coach he oversaw and watched intently as his buddies from the RVYC tied up the Soling trails (Miller, Cote and Ekels got an Olympic bronze medal that year). He was affable and welcoming, encouraging and never distant. He made an impression on me that stuck.
As my career and those of many others like Josenhans, Bastet and McLaughlin evolved, Tupper was always there. Steady hand, encouraging words, positive thoughts. He was a great influence on me as I am sure he was on everyone around him.
Tupper was part of the mindset and team that made sure the new boys were looked after and nurtured, that they were given opportunities to win and lose and learn. Always in the background was Tuppers’ teaching expertise.
Tupper was one too who identified with and was not afraid too to have a little fun. I remember one night after Hans Fogh, Dennis Toews and I had won our first Europeans, Tupper was there toasting us numerous times. The team he built was all there too, a testament to how he brought all the sailors from all classes together. And as the night wore on Tupper was at my shoulder encouraging me as I drove a bobsled simulator down the alps, saying Kerr you look good at this sport … I can coach you to be faster, when we get home we are buying you a bobsled and we will do a summer and winter games together.”
He was the kind of guy one would walk through fire for.
Tupper left the boats and worked tirelessly for sailing globally. With his buddy and long-time friend Paul Henderson, they brought and evolved sailing on almost every platform and finally after so many years he was recognized by Sail Canada with their Rolex Sailor of the Year award and by World Sailing in 2004, receiving the World Sailing’s Gold Medal for Service.
Tupper was an Olympian , a coach, a mentor and judge. He was a builder and he was a gifted man who gave so much to our sport. He will be missed by many.