Eight Bells: David Howard

David Howard

January 26, 2023

David Howard passed way this week. He was the past commodore of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club and a man so accomplished at so many things. I remember Mr. Howard as a mentor and a great helmsman. In my mind he was the sailor’s commodore, competitive, tactical, and fearless.

This picture reminds me so much of the man, helming Marauder in the 1975 Canada’s Cup. When this shot by Rob Mazza was taken, we were thick in the long-distance race and as Rob Mazza recalls, “the speedo was pinned at over 10 knots (the highest it could read) and the bow wave was breaking at the chainplates! We had the #2 flying on the spinnaker pole because David said that was legal because the #2 was a symmetrical sail.”

David Howard was 57 then in the cockpit watching every wave, shift and driving Marauder hard for hours at a time. Here with his son David Junior, “Red” Wright, Phil Kerrigan, Bryce Christie, Brent Roberts, and me we won that race against Golden Dazy by light years, testament to a man, tempered by his naval career who knew the calculated risks we needed to take. 

David Howard was an Olympian, competing in the Dragon Class in Melbourne in 1956 with his brother Cliff and Donald Tytler. He was inducted into the Canadian Sailing Hall of Fame in 2018.

In his letter to the Marauder Crew dated October 20, 1975, Howard wrote, “Every one of you did a superb job and from my observation better than them (Golden Dazy) most of the time.” He added, “Naturally, I regret as you do, we did not win the Canada’s Cup – I hate losing!” Just before he closed the letter, he was looking ahead asking us all to come back in 1978 and then credited his wife and David Junior for their support (Mrs. Howard’s;’ brownies were wonderful) leaving us with the following quote from Theodore Roosevelt;

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

We will all miss David Howard because he showed so many of us how to compete, live and leave no stone unturned to win!

– John Kerr

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