Legend of ocean sailing

Bill King, whose 42ft junk-rigged schooner, Galway Blazer II, was capsized and dismasted during the ill-fated Golden Globe solo, non-stop round the world race, has died aged 101.

Galway Blazer II, designed by Angus Primrose, after consultation with Bill’s wartime friend, legendary solo yachtsman Blondie Hasler, was hit by a hurricane 1,000 miles south-west of Cape Town.

In September 1970, Bill set sail once more.
Seven days out of Fremantle, Western Australia he was rammed by a great white shark which holed the boat on her port side.

‘Seeing that blue water through my hull was definitely my worst moment at sea. It was time to ring up God, but I didn’t have the number,’ said Bill.

He eventually made it round the world and was awarded the Royal Crusing Club’s medal and the American Cruising Club’s prestigious Blue Water Medal for his circumnavigation.

 Bill, who died at his castle in Oranmore, Galway, Ireland, was the only man to go right through World War II as a submarine commander on both the Allied and Axis sides, being decorated with the DSO and bar and DSC.

After the war he crewed as navigator, for yacht designer John Illingworth in his boat Myth of Malham, competing in the Bermuda and Fastnet races.

He wrote four books in co-operation with his wife, writer Anita Leslie, who predeceased him: Adventure In Depth, The Stick and the Stars, Capsize and The Wheeling Stars. Anita also wrote a poignant biography of Sir Francis Chichester.

He leaves a son, Tarka Dick, daughter Leonie and four grandchildren.

An obituary of Bill King will appear in the November issue of Yachting Monthly.