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Obituary – Richard Goodbourn 1932–2016

Member of Brighton Belle Sailing Club

Richard, a shareholder with the Brighton Belle Sailing club and a founder member and long-time supporter of the Marabu Sailing Club, recently died after a rather protracted illness. This brief statement does not do him justice and what follows describes just one aspect of this quiet and determined gentleman's life; never seeking plaudits Richard supported a number of worthwhile projects.

The story of Brighton Belle follows from that of another ocean going vessel, Marabu. When we were searching for a new vessel to continue the idea of a club based round a large ocean going vessel as with Marabu, Richard was one of the first to buy a share even though he knew his own sailing days were over. He would be delighted to see that the club is still flourishing around these same principles.

Richard Goodbourn on Hamilton Island

The simple act of one moment can have a far reaching impact, neither realised by the person who carried it out nor by the hundreds of people who subsequently benefited from that person's generosity and unwavering support. Such is the case with Richard.

The yacht Brighton Belle would not have been purchased had a group of people not bought Marabu, a German sailing vessel built in 1934 and salvaged as reparation at the end of the Second World War, some 35 years ago and formed a club around her. The experience gained of running a club around a large ocean-going yacht, developing the sailing skills and management required for a club of this nature provided the desire for a second vessel after Marabu had been sold.

Back in 1978, at a critical meeting when it was agreed to purchase Marabu, we were £8,000 short of the purchase price. Not a lot in today's market but a lot in those days and we had no idea where we could raise that amount at short notice in order to secure the deal. In a room of about ten people nobody was keen to catch each other's eye until Richard said 'Do you want to buy this boat or not?'. He then rang his bank manager – it was eight o'clock in the evening – and asked him if he could have a bank loan for this sum to purchase a boat, for which he would provide a personal guarantee.

We were all stunned, not only that he could ring his bank manager 'out of hours' but that he could secure that sum of money over the phone; even then the paperwork, guarantees, insurances etc. etc. were enough to make you lose the will to go on! Well, we were then able to buy Marabu and for over 25 years sailed thousands of miles, participating in the Tall Ships races, sailing around Britain and the Baltic …. it goes on but, more importantly, hundreds of people all shared these adventures.

Richard never made any comment about his pivotal role in the purchase and I believe never gave this action a moment's thought. 'Get on, do it and enjoy it' seemed to be the maxim Richard lived by. This one single action however had very far-reaching results with surviving Marabu members still in close contact today.

There are others whose talents helped to form the Marabu Sailing Club and who then subsequently set up the Brighton Belle Sailing Club, but without Richard's moment of personal generosity, which has for the most part been lost in the subsequent years' adventures, this all may never have happened.

Richard would have been amazed by recent technical developments such as the filming of Brighton Belle from a drone during this year's Royal Escape Race. When you are aboard and sailing on her you do not realise just how beautiful and fast she is, you can only nod graciously at other vessels when you pass them by. But I am sure that Richard would be raising a glass to you all and I hope that you too will raise a glass to him and thank him.

Nigel McMillan

July 2016

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