Gerry Norton

14.12.1929 – 3.2.2006

THE PERFECT GENT

 

The first records of Gerry’s sailing prowess commence in 1979.  Gerry had joined the Club in the mid 70’s and owned ‘Nautilus’ a 17’ Skipper which he trailed to the Lake District where he kept a caravan.  That is until the sailing seriously took over.  Word soon got around that Gerry was a Lay Preacher – better watch our P&Q’s we thought.  However, Gerry’s sense of humour, sense of fair play, sense of socialising and sense of sailing soon showed us he was an all round good guy.  He was called Captain Neemo by many who sailed with him. He won the Robert Bruce Trophy in 1979.

 

John Cuthbertson remembers one year in the Upnor Race with Gerry on ‘Nautilus’and John on his Felicity. John and Gerry both picked up a mooring on the inside of the Dragon Moorings in the Medway with Gerry using his snap-on mooring hook. They went up to the Club had a few drinks and went back to their boats.  About 5a.m. John woke up (call of nature) and the easiest way out of his boat was through the forward hatch and as he looked around he noticed that ‘Nautilus’ had broken free of the mooring and was drifting towards the shore. John went up on the deck (in his birthday suit) and called to Gerry.  Gerry poked his head out of the cabin and laughed at John who told him he was drifting. Gerry immediately started his engine and as he was motoring away he called out to John ‘you’d better get below before anyone else sees you’.

 

One of the Harty Ferry races almost ended in disaster.  It was agreed that as Gerry had the shallowest draft he would ferry everyone ashore.  By the time he had gone round to all the boats he had collected 21 Club members onboard his 17’ Skipper which had twin daggerboards.  After Gerry had made the last pick up of people someone shouted hurry up your sinking.  The weight of all the bodies onboard had submerged the boat and there was so much water coming up the daggerboards casings.  Needles to say they made it to the shore but on the return trip another dinghy was also used as a Ferryboat.

 

One of the stories Gerry used to tell was the time we were arriving back from a sail Bob and I owned ‘Jayronda’ then and Gerry had the next jetty to us.  I was wearing a bikini top and shorts (much younger in those days and the summers seemingly warmer). We had tied our boat and I was getting ready to take the ropes from Des, Gerry’s crew at that time. When Gerry saw me he forgot what he was doing and crashed into the Jetty.  Gerry retold this story of the 25th January this year when Rodney, Chris, Bill and I went to visit him in Barts Hospital.

In 1986 Gerry won the Overall Points Trophy and in 1988 the A&B Cup, the Yachts & Yachting Trophy and the Cruiser Points Trophy.  In 1989 he won the Small Gains Cup. By now Gerry owned ‘Aphrodite’. He was 1st Class B Cruiser in the Whitbread Race in 1990 and 1st B Class in the Cruiser points trophy.  In 1992 Gerry was 2nd Class B in the Sunnyside Cup,  1st B Class in the SmallGains Cup, 1st B Class in the Fisk Cup, 1st B Class in the A&B Cup, 1st in the Koningstein Cup and the Gin & Rum Cup and also 1st B Class Cruiser Points – 7 Trophies that year.  This is getting serious sailing.

 

Gerry came onto the Committee for the first time in 1983 as Sailing Secretary which he did until 1998 when he became Rear Commodore Sail, I guess he knew enough about it by this time! Also in 1993 he purchased ‘Aires’ a boat which was well known in the Club as belonging to the late Roy Lucas and secondly Rod Abbott.

 

Obviously now sailing ‘Aires’ Gerry wanted to continue his winning ways and in 1993 he was 2bd A Class in the Fisk Cup, 2nd A Class in the Yachts & Yachting Trophy, 2nd A Class in the Overall Points Trophy.  Getting used to the new boat in 1994 was 2nd A Class in the SmallGains Cup, 1st in the Ellen Rapkin Trophy and 1st A Class Cruiser points Trophy.

 

1995 and everyone is busy with the new Club House but this does not deter the racing and in this year Gerry was 1st Overall and 1st A Class in the SmallGains Cup, 2ns A Class in the Ellen Rapkin Trophy, 1st Overall and 1st A Class in the Yachts & Yachting Trophy and 2nd in the Koningstein Pursuit Race.

 

1996 sees us in the new Club House and members celebrating this wonderful achievement.  Gerry was celebrating too, this year sees him winning 1st Overall and 1st A Class in the Fisk Cup, 2nd A Class in the Greene King Trophy, 2nd A Class in the A&B Cup, 2nd A Class for the Cruiser Points Trophy.

 

Gerry won the 1st Overalls and 1st A Class in the Sunnyside Cup ib 1997, he was 2nd A Class in the Greene King Race, 1st A Class in the Ellen Rapkin Trophy, 1st A Class in the Yachts & Yachting Trophy, 1st A Class in the A&B Cup, 1st Overall and 1st A Class in the Cruiser Points.  Does this man ever give up.  In between all this racing there was the Calais Rally trips and latterly the Gravelines Cruises – they will miss him in the Camboursier Club House at Gravelines.

 

1998, yes Gerry is still winning trophies.  1st Overalls and 1st A Class in the SmallGains Cup, 1st In the Ellen Rapkin Trophy, 1st A Class in the Greene King Race, 1st A Class in the Yachts & Yachting Trophy, 1st in the Cruiser Points – oh, and yes that year he was part of the team that won the Combined Cruisers Race – not won again until last year, guess what Gerry was part of that winning team too.

 

I am not sure what year Gerry won the Nore Race but one of his crew Mark Smith was being interviewed by the local paper.  The interview was relating to Mark’s job (nothing to do with sailing) but somehow Mark mentioned the Nore Race and that they had won the race.  We all know how local papers work, print what they want – the paper read Mark Smith owner and skipper of  ‘Aires’ etc etc., Gerry laughed when he read the news but we do not know what he said to Mark.

 

When you take into consideration that Gerry is by now, no youngster, he drove down from Romford most weekends for the Sailing and helped alongside his good friend Bill Mahon improve the Bar takings.  Gerry always had time for everyone he chatted to and helped everyone that he came across and was tireless in his support of the Club both as Rear Commodore Sail and Sailing Secretary.  Gerry rarely missed a social event and for those of you who can remember, especially in the old Club house, he was an excellent ballroom dancer – his favourite was the Foxtrot.

In 2000 he was 1st Overall and 1st A Class in the SmallGains Cup, 1st Overall and 1st A Class in the Sunnyside Cup, 1st Overall and 1st A Class in the Yachts & Yachting Trophy, the A&B Cup and 1st in the Ellen Rapkin Trophy, 3rd in the Koningstein Pursuit Race and 1st A Class in the Cruiser points – some year that was for Gerry.

 

2001 sees Gerry 3rd A Class in the Sunnyside Cup, 1st A Class in the Fisk Cup, 1st A Class in the A&B Cup, 1st A Class in the Shepherd Neame Trophy, 1st in the Ellen Rapkin Cup, and 1st A Class in the Cruiser Points.

 

2002 and 2003 cannot find Club Books for these years.  But in 2004 Gerry was 2nd in the Fisk Cup, 3rd in the Koningstein Cup, and last year despite all the difficulties he was experiencing Gerry took part in all 5 of the IYC cruiser Races and represented the Club in 4 out of 5 Combined Cruiser races, the Nore Race and the Interclub Cruiser team race.

 

On speaking with many members since Gerry’s death so many have got stories, anecdotes and great memories of this truly lovely man,  What a sad loss to both his family, the Club and all those who knew him.

 

As everyone says ‘ a true Gentleman’.

Valerie Deane. Secretary

 

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