Jeff Martin – Recollections

“All we really wanted to do was go sailing, now look at how it has grown!”

                 – Jeff Martin, in conversation with ILCA Technical officer Clive Humphris


It is with great sadness that we have received the news of Jeff Martin’s passing on 11 January 2019 while on ski holidays with family and friends.

Jeff has been chairman of the World Sailing Classes Committee for longer than I can remember, and for many of us he has been a friend and mentor.

Jeff’s dedication and contribution to the sport of sailing will live on in our memories.

Our deepest condolences go out to Jeff’s family and friends.

– Markus Schwendtner

I was greatly saddened to learn of the sudden death of Jeff Martin. Can you on behalf of the laser class of Trinidad and Tobago extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, family and Friends.
I know I will greatly miss his help and how he championed small countries like ours.
Jeff was a true Gentleman who could both talk to Kings and yet never forget the little people like us. He was always willing to help in any way he could, a small case in point to show his gentle touch.
At the Aarhus worlds a few months ago my daughter had a horrendous flight from our side of the world to Aarhus of about 48 hours that ended with all her bags missing which include her sailing equipment.
Jeff saw her walking around in a daze at the regatta site and asked her what was wrong, on hearing her problem he immediately stepped up and arranged to get another sailor of her same size to lend her sailing equipment that would allow her to measure in and support to get her lost bags found.
I have known Jeff since the first time the laser was used at the PanAm games in 1979 and he has always been a great help with any problems that we encountered along the way. He came and spent some time with us many years ago and helped train some of our sailors, myself included, over a two week period, using pictures he took as the cover of Laser World those many years ago.
I will greatly miss him.
I would be grateful if you could extend on the behalf of my wife and I our deepest sympathies to his wife and children. 
He definitely made the world a better place for all of us.
– James and Jennifer and all of the Trinidad & Tobago Laser sailors 

Waking up to this devastating news on Saturday in Singapore, my heart is broken.

For us in Asia, Jeff has been the face of the Laser Class.

His dedication and passion for the class has been inspirational.

His knowledge of the Laser class, on World Sailing and on being a Technical Official, is unparalleled

Jeff took the effort, time and interest to learn about the sailing culture in Asia, he is one of the instrumental pillars behind the growth of Laser sailing in Asia.

Jeff has been my mentor, teacher, team mate, confidante, pillar of strength and a loyal friend.

He is my go-to person for everything Laser, and sailing.

We were looking forward to making our first Asian event a success. He is my strategist, consultant, and the designated PRO!

I am indeed grateful and honoured to have spent many memorable times with Jeff.

Rest in peace Jeff, you will be dearly missed!

– Aileen Loo

Jeff Martin (left) and Andy Roy
At the 82 Worlds in Sardinia, Jeff had to use his renowned organizing skills to deal with various Italians, customs, etc., in order to get the boats delivered to the event in time. He recently told me it was a miracle that it all came together. 
We Canadians organized a party the night before the lay day that turned out to be quite the event (the good old days when sailors had a beer or two at the Worlds). 
– Andy Roy


Fair winds and following seas to the man that really built the Laser. Without Jeff the sailors would have no champion. He will be sorely missed.
– Bill Crane

I first met Jeff at Port Lincoln in South Australia at the 1980 Australian Laser Nationals. I think he had come to attend the ALCA AGM to try to sort out where some of the money had gone from the 1979 BP Laser Worlds in Perth. Not sure it ever was sorted!

Jeff was firmly in charge from way back then when the ILCA was pretty much a one man band. We formed a warm and open friendship though many Masters Worlds from 1986 on. We worked together to run the Terrigal Worlds in February 2008 and he was a major factor in the success of those worlds especially through some trying weather.

Jeff was very much the strength of our class. He was never flustered and I never saw him angry. He changed large fleet racing for the better through round robin racing and trapezoid courses and the famous one minute rule (now enshrined in the U Flag). He could talk his way through anything and was a master politician in dealings with ISAF/World Sailing. The only thing was sometimes he could talk for half an hour and you still could not be sure of the point he was trying to make!

A sudden and tragic end for a great man to whom we owe much of the success of the class.

– Rob Lowndes
ALCA and NSW/ACT District Masters rep

Jeff sure had a very important role in growing many racing sailors.

I remember Jeff used to write articles on “Beam Reach” on how to present, discuss and win protests. One was about the propulsion rules, that in the 80s had to be lodged by competitors, not the jury.

At a national regatta in Italy I remember having followed his procedure step by step, and I came out from the jury room with the protestee (a much older and more famous sailor than I was at that time) dsq.

I applied the same procedure in many more protest hearings in the following years, mostly with success.

Thanks Jeff.

You will be very missed.

– Alessandro Castelli

At the 2017 Laser Radial Women Worlds in Medemblik (see also the video attached), Each athlete had to sail with a charter boat at this event and it turned out during the allocation of boats that some had damages. As a member of the jury, I arrived the night before the practice race and found part of the officials team, Jeff, Takao, and Ron acting as boat builders, and repairing these boats during the night. There was no question I joined them, it was great fun with this team.

During the six years time we knew each other with Jeff, we had many fantastic adventures and challenges at events together. The act in Medemblik was just one example of his dedication to the class, its events and sailors. ‘He did not know something was impossible so he did it’ – for me, this quote always properly described his problem-solving attitude. Jeff, a teacher, a mentor, a fellow race official, a friend and an inspiration will be truly missed and remembered for a long time in our sailing community.

– Bence Böröcz, IJ from Hungary

It was with great sadness that I read about the tragic passing of Jeff last week.

He and I had known each other for over 30 years, when I was coaching Lasers for the UK attending over 10 World Championships where he was PRO and through many, many ISAF and World Sailing meetings, as well as the London 2012 Games.

Jeff’s tales of travel from Falmouth to whichever destination he was aiming for was the subject of many enjoyable conversation and I have never met anyone who lost so many computers! He was however, a real driving force behind much of Lasers success and kept a high profile for the class over many years. He sought guidance and asked for opinions on a wide range of issues, always acting with great integrity.

More recently we were exchanging stories about impending retirements (for both of us).

Please pass on my deepest condolences to his family and friends – he will be much missed by us all.

– John Derbyshire OBE

It was real shock for us to know that Jeff suddenly passed away on Jan.11th 2019.

Jeff was not just another one- he was сconsiderable personality, one of those who
like steamer moved forward world wide sailing!

His professional profile always was an open learning book for us. We admired his talent of
ruling over the races, lifting this skill on the level of art. On our seminars, especially with
young judges&race officers, we applied to many and many cases from his practice of
running the events.

His personal traits were not less remarkable, meaning his sharp intellect, power of observation,
decisiveness in tough situation on water, his special talent to express his views honestly but in
special, soft and always acceptable way. His sense of humor, kind and precise at the same time,
made his jokes so easy to remember. For joy and as good lessons.

And he was friend- friend in deed! He knew when someone badly needed him, and always did his
best to help.

Together with sailors-mates of the whole world we deeply grieve for his passing away.We will remember him forever.

On behalf of the sailors of Russia
– Oleg Ilyin, IJ