Commander Ian Bailey-Willmot dies aged 68

The former director of the Whitbread round-the-world race, has died aged 68. Commander Ian Bailey-Willmot skippered the Royal Naval Sailing Association’s entry Adventure in the Auckland-Rio leg of the second race – 1977-78.

In 1985 he joined the race committee for the fourth race and he was appointed race director in 1989 and was CEO and race director from 1991 to 1998.

He became a leading figure in persuading Volvo – the current sponsors – to take over the backing of the race when the giant brewery pulled out in 1997-98.

He was a successful ocean racer in his own boats including Black Billy, the quarter tonner Midnight Cowboy, Xaviera and Pomelo.

Yachting Monthly’s technical editor, Chris Beeson, who once worked for the photographic agency Allsport, recalls dealing with Bailey-Willmot over coverage of the Whitbread. ‘At a time when the sport was increasingly moving towards corporate control it was refreshing to deal with a man who actually went sailing rather than some suited fatcat. He was gruff in approach but he knew exactly what he wanted: what cameras were we using, which shots we should get.’