Celebration of his life to be held


Ed Whelan, formerly the RYA’s deputy secretary general and legal affairs manager has died after a short but typically spirited fight with cancer.

He started sailing as a small boy in enterprises and Albacores, but it was in yacht racing where he really made his mark. Starting on RORC and Admirals cup boats in the late 1960s through to 3/4and 1/2 tonners in the late 1970s, Impala’s (National Champion) and J24s in the 1980s whilst still racing in RORC and Sigma 38s through the 80s and 90s.

He and his wife Teresa competed successfully for three decades in JOG, RORC and Royal Southampton Double handed series in which they won many events, but more importantly enjoyed the camaraderie of the clubs. From 2000 they successsfully campaigned their X342 Xarifa both inshore and offshore.

His work for the RYA started in 1981 when, as a barrister, he was appointed as the legal and governmennt affairs and general purposes manager.

It was in this role, and latterly as the deputy CEO that he came to help hundreds of yachts clubs and yachtsmen around the country, deal with their legal matters. He saw one of his main roles as that of a parliamentary advisor and lobbyist fighting for the rights of sailors to enjoy uninterrupted sailing in UK waters, unimpinged by regulation and licensing; in addition to his unstinting work with the RYA regions and clubs.

To help achieve these goals he also acted as secretary and treasurer to the House of Lords and Commons Yacht club and as Secretary of the European Boating Association.

He was well known internationally through his involvement with ISAF. He wrote many articles for yachting and boating magazines and published several books including Marine Law for yachtsmen, an essential handbook for all prospective and current boat owners. Also, Around the Red Tape, which became the ‘bible’ for all club secretraries.

Additionally he was a Director of Central Council for Physical Recreation; was very involved with Harbour masters; and hosted the annual boat show conference for club secretaries and chairmen.

As an RYA lawyer Ed Whelan felt he was the luckiest man in the world to be a barrister working in the sailing industry. The sailing industry and all sailors greatly benefitted from his influence.

As some colleagues said ‘he was always there to listen to anybody’s problem and make time to help them solve them. He always a good sense of humour and was a wonderful guy’.

Since his retirement in 2007 he become a Yachtmaster ocean instructor and has been regular face on the Oceans as he has worked with amateur yachtsmen helping them achieve their goals of transatlantic crossings and achieving their own Yachtmaster certificates.

He loved helping new sailors to become proficient and enjoy their sport. He completed his last crossing in December 2012, by which time he had logged over 100,000 ocean miles.

He died leaving behind Teresa, three children and 8 grandchildren and many hundreds of friends from the sailing family across the globe. He will be missed at the bar!

The celebration of his life will be at St Pauls Church Sarisbury Green at 2pm on 18th June – with Ed’s preferred meeting place afterwards at the Boathouse cafe at Swanwick Marina where there will be a Guinness bar set up in memory of all those wonderful boatshows he and many of his friends shared.