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MR.CLEAN

Donzo Wilkinson

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http://www.theday.com/article/20100905/NWS01/309059854/-1/NWS

 

 

 

 

A sailboat owned by a Groton man ran aground Saturday afternoon during a race marred by a fatality aboard another boat.<br class="hardreturn">

 

The incidents occurred during a race sponsored by the Fishers Island Yacht Club.<br class="hardreturn">

 

In an unrelated incident, the Coast Guard rescued four people Saturday night from a boat, a 28-foot O'Day, that ran aground southwest of Ram Island at the mouth of the Mystic River.<br class="hardreturn">

 

Earlier, Greg Cypherd, chief of the Fishers Island Fire Department, confirmed that a fatality had occurred involving "someone that was sailing" - apparently during the Fishers Island race - but refused to provide any other information.<br class="hardreturn">

 

Police in Southold, Long Island, referred questions to New York State Police, who had provided no information late Saturday night.<br class="hardreturn">

 

During the race, the 29-foot vessel Showdown ran aground on South Dumpling Island, where it was to remain overnight, according to Lt.j.g. John Vasilarakis, command duty officer of Coast Guard Sector Long Island in New Haven.<br class="hardreturn">

 

None of the 10 crewmen aboard Showdown were harmed, Vasilarakis said Saturday night.<br class="hardreturn">

 

Matt Lettrich of Noank and Ted Parker of Mystic, who had set out to watch the race in Parker's 20-foot boat, spotted the Showdown and ended up ferrying the crippled vessel's crew back to Mystic. In photographs taken by Lettrich, the Showdown appears to be seriously damaged.<br class="hardreturn">

 

Calls placed to the Groton home of the Showdown's owner, Bijan Rasadi, went unanswered.<br class="hardreturn">

 

"We saw Showdown's spinnaker in a somewhat ugly configuration and I said, 'Gee, they're stuck, they're going to hit the rocks,' and they did," Lettrich said in a phone interview Saturday night. "We took (the crew) up the Mystic (River), but it was too rough to move the boat."<br class="hardreturn">

 

A commercial towing vessel arrived at the scene shortly after the grounding, as did a Coast Guard boat dispatched from New London, according to Vasilarakis.<br class="hardreturn">

 

The Coast Guard received a call about the grounding shortly after 2 p.m., Vasilarakis said. The wind at the time was 23 knots, gusting to 30 knots, he said.<br class="hardreturn">

 

Lettrich, who races regularly as a member of the Mystic River Mudheads Sailing Association, said Saturday's wind would have made for "an exciting race." He said the Mudheads ran the race, which the Fishers Island Yacht Club sponsored.<br class="hardreturn">

 

Because of the strong winds, the race, which was to have been sailed around Fishers Island, was limited to the waters between Fishers Island and Connecticut's coast, Lettrich said.<br class="hardreturn">

 

In the Mystic grounding, the Coast Guard dispatched two boats — a 41-footer and a 25-footer — as well as a helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, according to Pete Winters, a civilian search and rescue controller at Coast Guard Sector Long Island.<br class="hardreturn">

 

The helicopter turned around en route to the scene after the 25-foot boat was able to maneuver alongside the grounded boat and transfer those onboard, Winters said.<br class="hardreturn">

 

The boat's owner had indicated the boat's keel was about to break off, in which case those on board planned to jump off and swim to Ram Island, Winters said.<br class="hardreturn">

 

"I didn't want that to happen, so we sent everything we had," he said.<br class="hardreturn">

 

No other details were available late Saturday night, including the names on board the grounded boat. Winters said the boat was out of New London.

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Mudheads are in mourning due to loss of "Donzo" Wilkinson. It was reported at the FIYC after the race, that he suffered head trauma during accidental gybe aboard the very well sailed Mumm 30 "One More Time".

 

"Donzo" was an excellent sailor who co-founded the Mudheads. Many tears and sadness and shock throughout the community...

 

Conditions: 6-9' seas left over from Earl, winds mid-20's gusting higher. RC kept all classes inside the Sound rather than rounding Fisher's Island. Also, there were a couple MOBs (recovered without incident) and two other boats boats on rocks, "Persistance", a Pearson 36-2 was pulled off Horseshoe Reef but the J-29 "Showdown" was destroyed on South Dumpling.

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That sucks big time!! Donzo was a terrific guy; RIP. Condolences to family and friends.

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Yes, I got an email from my father this morning that Donzo was lost yesterday. Very shocked to hear such a wonderful guy was lost doing what he loved. Thoughts go out to everyone in the area, including every Med Head, and to Donzo's family and friends.

 

He said conditions were wild and there was a lot of damage to the boats that sailed. A Swan 45 destroyed a jib, two boats lost rudders, the boat hitting South Dumpling and that a friend prevented another possible fatality by rescuing a MOB in his powerboat.

 

Again, my thoughts to everyone in the Mud Head community and to Donzo's family and friends.

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http://www.theday.com/article/20100905/NWS01/100909790/1047

 

Experienced Noank sailor killed in Fishers Island race

By Joe Wojtas

 

Publication: TheDay.com

 

Published 09/05/2010 12:00 AMUpdated 09/05/2010 12:58 PM

 

Fishers Island, N.Y. — New York State Police have identified the man killed in Saturday's sailboat race in Fishers Island Sound as Donald Wilkinson, 54, of Noank.

 

Wilkinson, an experienced sailor who is married with two children, was struck in the head by a boom during the 2:19 p.m. incident which occurred between North Hill and South Dumpling. Police are investigating the cause of his injury.

 

Wilkinson, who was among a half-dozen people on the boat, was taken to Noank by rescue personel and then to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital. Wilkinson, who owns Northeast Storm Protection LLC, is a member of the Mystic River Mudheads and the Ram Island Yacht Club.

 

Saturday's around Fishers Island race was instead held within Fishers Island Sound because of windy conditions.

 

"There was nothing wrong with being out there yesterday for an experienced sailor or boats. There was nothing unusual about the day," said his father-in-law George Hohsenstein who was among the friends and relatives gathering at Wilkinson's Harbor Court home late this morning. "It was just a tragic accident."

 

Another sailboat participating in the race ran aground on South Dumpling and was badly damaged. Its crew was rescued by two men aboard a boat watching the race. There were no injuries.

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post-2393-044283100 1283714827_thumb.jpg

Donzo was a great guy and an awesome sailor. When I was rebuilting EVELUTION, a 1981 Bob Evelyn IOR designed 41 footer, he contacted me, sharing many stories of helping build and campaign her, then offered great advice on the best way to bring her back to sailing trim. He was an UBER-Lewmar rep always will advice you knew you could trust. I remember calling him up looking for advice on the best way to rebuild my 3-speed primaries. That evening he met me on the boat and got down and dirty, showing me the pro way to strip down, clean inspect and restore my winches.....both of them. He then went on to help disassemble, clean, and restore the other 10 winches with me.

 

Later on I called on him at his home during the day, again looking for some advice. He met me at the door with a baby on his hip. That's when I found out he was also an Uber-dad. While I moved away after that I always knew I could all on him. I'm sure I'm not the only one he treated so well.

 

What else can I say.....I miss him already.

 

Bob

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Don "Donzo" Wilkinson. 1956-2010

 

post-22603-041787400 1283716891_thumb.jpg

 

 

Mudhead Commodore 1979-80 1999-2001

http://mudhead.org/

 

Memorial Service

The memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, September 11 at 10 am at Mystic Congregational Church at the Civil War traffic circle in Mystic. This will be followed by a reception at Ram Island Yacht Club.

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Very sad for someone lost far too young. My condolences.

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latest article from the New London Day...http://www.theday.com/article/20100906/NWS01/309069924/1018

 

Friends mourn sailor's death in 'tragic accident'

By Julianne Hanckel

 

Publication: The Day

 

Published 09/06/2010 12:00 AMUpdated 09/06/2010 03:28 AM Photo Courtesy of the Wilkinson familyDonald Wilkinson was the founding commodore for the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association. Photo Courtesy of the Wilkinson familyDonald Wilkinson was the founding commodore for the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association.

 

Noank man struck by boat's boom during race

 

Groton - As an avid sailor, Donald "Donzo" Wilkinson of Noank raced hard and had an infectious laugh.

 

At 54, he had decades of experience on the water and had captained private yachts and sailboats.

 

"Not only did he understand the wind and the waves and the tide and the weather, he understood how boats were built and what made them go fast," said Greg Gilmartin, racing committee chairman for the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association.

 

But all of Wilkinson's experience did not prevent what happened during a sailboat race in Fishers Island Sound Saturday afternoon.

 

Wilkinson was aboard the 30-foot sailboat One More Time when he was struck on top of his head by the boat's boom. It knocked him unconscious.

 

A fellow crew member among the half dozen on board the Mumm 30 performed CPR on Wilkinson until emergency personnel arrived, according to his father-in-law, George Hohenstein. Wilkinson was brought to shore and then to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London where he died. An autopsy is scheduled to be performed by the Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner.

 

"He died doing what he loved and it was just a tragic accident," Hohenstein said Sunday. "To all of us that sail, we are aware that could happen at anytime."

 

Wilkinson was the husband of Anne Hohenstein Wilkinson and the father of Ben and Sarah Wilkinson.

 

Because of Saturday's windy conditions, a small craft advisory was issued and the race was held inside of more protected Fishers Island Sound instead of going around the island.

 

Another sailboat participating in the race ran aground on South Dumpling Island and was badly damaged. Its crew was rescued by two men aboard a boat watching the race. There were no injuries in that incident.

 

But Hohenstein said the conditions had nothing to do with Wilkinson's death.

 

"There was nothing wrong with being out there yesterday for an experienced sailor or boats. There was nothing unusual about the day," Hohenstein said.

 

Described by Hohenstein as a "lifetime sailor," Wilkinson was not an amateur.

 

He was the founding commodore for the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association, serving from 1979-1980 and again from 1999-2001. He also served on the Board of Managers from 1981-1983.

 

Gilmartin called Wilkinson the "heart and soul of the Mudhead organization."

 

He was a graduate of Fitch High School in Groton and for the past 10 years has owned Northeast Storm Protection, a company specializing in products designed to protect and limit damage to window and door openings caused by high winds, water and flying debris.

 

The flag outside the Wilkinson's Harbor Court home flew at half staff Sunday while friends and family members gathered to console one another.

 

Among them was friend and neighbor Peter Bergendahl.

 

Twenty years ago, their friendship began competitively as they sailed against each other in regattas stretching from Newport, R.I., to Key West, Fla.

 

"He was the most competent person on a boat I've had the pleasure of sailing with," Bergendahl said. "We spend a lot of time together other than sailing. It's quite a loss."

 

A celebration of Wilkinson's life will be held Saturday at the Mystic Congregational Church.

 

The family is asking those planning to attend to wear flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts because he was "most-comfortable in that," Gilmartin said.

 

"He had an infectious laugh, he was full of life and he enjoyed it," Gilmartin said. "The way he laughed was just a part of it."

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Fair winds and following seas. Condolences to the family. If I gotta go....could be worse.

 

 

Very sad.

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Mudheads are in mourning due to loss of "Donzo" Wilkinson. It was reported at the FIYC after the race, that he suffered head trauma during accidental gybe aboard the very well sailed Mumm 30 "One More Time".

 

"Donzo" was an excellent sailor who co-founded the Mudheads. Many tears and sadness and shock throughout the community...

 

Conditions: 6-9' seas left over from Earl, winds mid-20's gusting higher. RC kept all classes inside the Sound rather than rounding Fisher's Island. Also, there were a couple MOBs (recovered without incident) and two other boats boats on rocks, "Persistance", a Pearson 36-2 was pulled off Horseshoe Reef but the J-29 "Showdown" was destroyed on South Dumpling.

 

The story above is slightly incorrect: it was not an 'accidental gybe'...it was a planned gybe at a mark of the course.

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My heart fealt condolances go out to Donzo's family and friends as they try to go thru the dificult times ahead. It is never easy losing a loved one.

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Din't know Donzo but know seral of the Anachists spealing up for him, and am choked up over circumstnses. Fair windes and following seas brother. Condolences to his family.

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Another that never had the pleasure of meeting Donzo on this side. Wind at your back forever, good man.

 

Condolences to those left behind.

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Donzo was one of the best and most approachable sailors I've ever known. He had an infectious laugh and had probably forgotten more about sailing than I'll ever know. Fair Winds, Donzo, and my condolences to his family and friends.

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Donzo has been helping sailors since I first met him the mid 80's when he was spending a lot of time with Fujimo.

 

Fair winds Donzo. Rest in Peace.

 

We have lost one of the truely good one's here.

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Below is reprinted from facebook. Thought this would be a nice place for anyone stories or anecdotes that filled a great man's life.

 

-------

 

Hi everybody this is the son of Don Wilkinson. I'm afraid i need to bring some upsetting news about a fellow sailor. My dad passed away on saturday september 4th while sailing in a regatta on long island sound more specifically fishers island sound. He owned a a eveyln 25.5 but for years he's sailed on a farr 30 called One More Time with success in events such as key west race week and block island race week. He was trimming main on the farr in 30 knots of wind (a standard key west race week day) when we went for a gybe and the main didnt come. My dad gave the main a tug and it came. His head was about an inch too high and hit him in the top of the head. He passed away doing something he loved.

 

For years my dad sailed 50 footers around the world and he loved telling me about it and everything he and all his old friends did. Were holding a memorial service at the mystic babtist churt at 11 o'clock saturday september 11th with a reception to follow at the ram island yacht club. I'm inviting all of my dads old friends to join us in a celebration of life. If you do attend flip flops and hawain shirts or blue blazers are the excpected attire. We will all miss my dad and if anybody that knew him could join us for one last goodbye to my dad it would mean alot. My dad loved everybody (i think) and he was one of the best sailors i knew. If sailing anarchy could just mention him on the website along with the place and date of the memorial service and a call out to all my dads old friends it would mean alot. Thank you everybody for all your support now and the support to my dad over the years he was a great sailor, friend and dad. thanks for everybodys time

 

-Ben Wilkinson

 

------------

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Sorry to hear of your family's loss. Head injuries are just plain deadly, and hard to guard against - while we all like to sail in big breeze, that power can get the better of the very best of us. May you find comfort in knowing that your father would not want to be the cause of sadness and upset, and honor his memory by living well. Take care of your mum.

 

Vale Sailor, fair winds & following seas.

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Donald (Donzo) Wilkenson: UberSailor

 

We will miss you!

post-2393-085659200 1283889794_thumb.jpg

post-2393-066409200 1283889810_thumb.jpg

post-2393-053148700 1283889824_thumb.jpg

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Posted · Hidden by billy backstay, September 7, 2010 - i fucked up and clicked the wrong button
Hidden by billy backstay, September 7, 2010 - i fucked up and clicked the wrong button

Thanks for the post; wish I could be there; but have a prior commitment to help run a Bermuda 40 for a charity thing on Saturday.

 

Donzos laugh was like no other. Some might describe it as sounding like a nervous laugh, but it was truly not.

 

Just a boisterous, loving of life laugh. And loving of all things about sailing and the friendships involved.

 

He will be missed.

 

Thanks for the post; wish I could be there; but have a prior commitment to help run a Bermuda 40 for a charity thing on Saturday.

 

Donzos laugh was like no other. Some might describe it as sounding like a nervous laugh, but it was truly not.

 

Just a boisterous, loving of life laugh. And loving of all things about sailing and the very many friendships involved.

 

He will be missed.

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Thanks for the post; wish I could be there; but have a prior commitment to help run a Bermuda 40 for a charity thing on Saturday.

 

Donzos laugh was like no other. Some might describe it as sounding like a nervous laugh, but it was truly not.

 

Just a boisterous, loving of life laugh. And loving of all things about sailing and the very many friendships involved.

 

He will be missed.

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We have created a website for Donzo: www.donzowilkinson.org

 

It is a work in progress.

Donzo

 

 

Also Facebook: Remembering Donzo

 

There is no one I would rather go to sea with, or have a few mount gays and tell stories. Fair winds and following seas my friend...

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Didn't know Donzo, but he sounded like a great guy and competitor. My condolences to his family, friends and his shipmates.

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Here's the Obituary which appeared in the New London Day

 

Groton - Donald Phillips Wilkinson, 54, known affectionately as "Donzo", died on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010, in a sailing accident while racing in Fishers Island Sound.

 

In addition to great friends, he leaves his wife of 17 years, Anne (Hohenstein) Wilkinson and his children, Benjamin and Sarah, both students at Fishers Island School. He is dearly missed by his parents, Robert and Jeanne (Phillips) Wilkinson of Noank; his brother, Alan Wilkinson of Canterbury;, and his sister, Sheryl and husband, Tom Clukey, of New Gloucester, Maine. He also leaves his in-laws, Toby and George Hohenstein of Groton and George Town, Exuma, Bahamas; as well as his sister and brother-in-law, Cynthia and Andrew Davis and his two nieces, Ashley and Allison Davis of Sutton, Mass. The family cat, Harley, will also miss him greatly.

 

Donzo was born in Kingston, N.Y. on Feb. 12, 1956, and shortly thereafter moved to Noank with his family. He graduated from Fitch High School in 1974. He had a passion for sailing and boatbuilding. He started by building a Blue Jay with his father and working at Formula Yachts building Evelyn boats. He supervised the construction of Fujimo in Australia and the rebuilding of Prophet with his family and friends in their backyard. He was a perfectionist and master at finding new ways to improve boat speed

 

He was a member of Ram Island Yacht Club, Storm Trysail Club, Baldwin Yacht Club, Off Soundings Club, a founder and two time commodore of the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association.

 

For over a decade, he enjoyed life as a licensed yacht captain, racing at an elite level at regattas throughout the world. In the early 1990s, he came home to Noank and began a new chapter working for Lewmar Marine in sales and service for large custom yachts including America's Cup, Volvo Ocean Racers, and other innovative boats including PlayStation. In recent years, he founded Northeast Storm Protection which provided hurricane protection products for homes and businesses.

 

Sailing, family, and friends were his life. There were always lots of stories to tell. He raced with incredible friends in the Miami-Nassau, Admiral's Cup, Fastnet, Big Boat series on San Francisco Bay, Newport to Bermuda, Block Island and Key West Race Weeks, Antiqua, Off Soundings, and the Fifty Foot World Cup in Japan, among others.

 

He enjoyed summer cruises with his family to Block Island, Newport, Cuttyhunk, and the Vineyard. He loved vacationing off George Town, Exuma, Bahamas and quiet nights aboard Sirena on the mooring at Fishers Island. Other memorable events included New York YC cruises, delivering the yacht Shadow from Florida to Hawaii through the Panama Canal, and trips through the Erie Barge Canal aboard Fujimo.

 

He fostered his son Ben's growing love of sailboat racing and enjoyed trips with him to numerous youth regattas in his Optimist, 420, and Laser. They particularly had a wonderful time in Wales two years ago at the Optimist British Nationals.

 

He was very proud of his children and loved traditions such as traipsing through the woods to find the perfect Christmas tree, boisterous family dinners, planting gardens, and creating memorable birthday parties, particularly for Sarah. He was an awesome dad.

 

He had a larger-than-life personality with an infectious laugh and always a twinkle in his eye. He couldn't get enough of sailing and loved nothing better than messing around in boats.

 

A celebration of his life will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Mystic Congregational Church, 43 East Main St. There will also be a live stream of the celebration available at www.donzowilkinson.org

 

The family would like to perpetuate Donzo's love of sailing with a named Dyer Dhow dinghy at Mystic Seaport and to support youth sailing.

 

Contributions can be made to The Wilkinson Family Fund, c/o Peter Bergendahl, 135 Prospect Hill Road, Noank CT 06340.

 

Further information can be found on the website.

 

Published in The Day on September 8, 2010

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Sail on sir.

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Can't express how sorry I was to hear of Don "Donzo" Wilkerson's passing. We both briefly worked for Lewmar, he in Connecticut , me in Florida, in the 1990s; but it was when Donzo was running FUJIMO in the 1980s that we first became friends. FUJIMO, of course, was part of the IOR 50-foot class that was one the hottest fleets going back then, attracting most of the best sailors of the day.

 

There was great boat-for-boat racing in that fleet, especially at the SORC- and even better partying after the racing, especially amongst those of us, like Donzo & I, who were certified members of the IBNA (The International Boat Ni... oops, these days I guess you have to say Nanny Association) an organization eventually disbanded through political correctness.

 

Yeah, back in those days, I know Donzo and I shared a whole lot of good times, a whole lot of laughs- but perhaps proving what good times they were- I can't remember most of them...

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I didn't know Mr. Wilkenson. Just wanted to express my condolences. Sad to hear about loosing one of our 'own', especially since I and some friends have taken a headshot by a boom or two over the years.

 

Smooth Turns,

 

--Kevin

 

PS - one thing we've done on other boards in the past is disable signatures out of respect. Just a suggestion.

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My wife and I had the privilege of sailing with Don a number of times locally. He was a great guy, and will be missed dearly. His life is an example to us all.

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I came to know Donzo when he raced with the Bergendahl's on the J/29 Tomahawk--the Hustler guys always respected them and I always loved the good natured banter and ribbing I got from Donzo. He loved to ask me how were things in "Joisey"? It seems incomprehensible that a guy so full of life and good cheer could be gone from our sailing community. It is a tragedy. Makes me appreciate the gift of 'today'--I will try to be there Saturday.

 

Fair winds, my friend.

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RIP....fair winds and following seas.

 

Damn....I guess we all end up on this page at some time.

 

Live large my friends....live full.

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Like many of the other posts....I did't know Donzo either. From the recent stories...I wish I did.

 

Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this time.

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I didn't know Don, but feel the tragedy and shock of it. Keeping a good thought for all those involved and whom he touched. Sorry for the loss. Sail on and Fair Winds.

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I regret that I had so little chance to break bread with Don and Ann. He leaves a giant hole in the Fishers Island Sound sailing community, and will be missed by many.

 

Ben, if you are reading this you have true salt. Your Dad would have been so proud of you being on the water on Monday at RIYC.

 

I will there on Saturday, in a Hawaain shirt and flip flops. I look forward to raising a glass with every one else in Don's memory.

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Ah Donzo. The first thing that goes thru your head is why don't we stay better in touch with our old mates. Knew Donzo through the eighties and early nineties thru me on War Baby, Jubilation and others, him as memory recalls (slightly vague at this stage!!) on Locura, Shadow Fujimo and others. One thing I definitely don't remember is after BBS in 86 or 87, having won the bet for a case of rum, sitting in St FYC by the window, case under the table, and ordering various glasses of sodas. The bartender cast a blind eye while we emptied the case with multiple friends and competitors. Many, many more stories, the eighties being the lost decade, himself, his laugh and smile will be sorely missed

Scotty

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Donzo was a friend, mentor and a contributor to the distruction of many of my brain cells (not many left) - a sad day and way too early for such a great guy to meet his maker.

 

Sailed against Donzo in the IOR 50's and worked along side him for 4 odd years, partied, laughed and drank untold rums.......

Lost contact over the years, but with the odd phone call full of laughter when he was with Lewmar etc - reminded me of the character that was full of life, fun and a load infectious laugh.......

 

Sorry I can't attend the service, with being on the other side of the world. but I'm sure there will be lots of the old IOR 50' crew attending......my condolances and thoughts are with his family.

 

Fair winds and following seas big fella !

 

Deano.

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Posted · Hidden by jester1, September 10, 2010 - re-write
Hidden by jester1, September 10, 2010 - re-write

I got to know Donzo again last summer after being out of touch with the Mudheads since moving to Hawaii 15 years ago. It had actually been 20 years since I had sailed with the Mudheads crowd. I felt lucky to be able to sail with Donzo and his son for the RIYC around FI race. The attitudes on "One More TIme" were nothing but positive. Don knew how to sail well with a great attitude. Something that is to be admired and learned from. My thoughts go out to all his family and close friends. He had a big impression on me.

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I got to know Donzo again last summer after being out of touch with the Mudheads since moving to Hawaii 15 years ago. I felt lucky to be able to sail with Donzo and his son for the Fishers Island race last year. The attitudes on "One More TIme" were nothing but positive and professional. Don knew how to sail well with a great attitude that was contagious. Something that is to be admired and learned from. My thoughts go out to all his family and close friends. He had a big impression on me even though I only spent a little time getting to know him.

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Guest multitranslation
Posted · Hidden September 12, 2010 - xy
Hidden September 12, 2010 - xy

these j-boats gotta die one way or the other, cause they are hatching a new design every 4 days, otherwise we'll end up with a planet crammed with j-boats, how boring is that?

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don't worry Deano, there will be plenty of representation Saturday from the "old" 50'er days, I am going to drive "al" down, and old fella, shakey, scottsman, etc.. will be there, probably a few surprises as well!!

 

I too fell as if he was responsible for the start of my career, and someone I looked up to back then. Yes many less brain cells l8er!

 

We will pass on your best to the family!

 

Going to miss that laugh!!

 

ssssssssssssssnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnaaaaaaaaaaakkkkkkkkkkkkkkkeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

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My deepest sympathies to Don's wife and children, the owners and crew of "One More Time", and the entire Mudhead community.

 

I had the privilege of Don joining our crew for a couple Mudhead Wednesday nights in the early 1990s. I was a regular crew member of a 40 footer, sailed by a group of rank amateurs (including myself). The atmosphere on the boat could often be described as "chaotic" due in large part to the relative inexperience of everyone on board. I distinctly remember Don at his perch trimming the main, offering coaching tips to everyone from the owner on the wheel, to me on the bow in such a calm and professional way that we all just wanted to absorb every ounce of what he had to offer. I think as a crew we gained two season's worth of improvment in those two nights.

 

A devastating loss to a wonderful sailing community...

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Condolences to Ben and the Wilkinson family. I have had my bell rung numerous times by the boom, and have been lucky so far.

 

I will wear some Hawaiian print clothes and down some Miller Lites this weekend to honor your father.

 

Truly sorry for your loss.

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My thoughts and prayers for Anne, Ben and Sara. Fair winds Donzo, you will be missed.

 

And yes, while I can't make it out to Noank, I will be wearing my best flops and Hawaiian shirt tomorrow even though it's getting a bit chilly around here.

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And one other note. For all of you still racing, Donzo was one of the best on a boat. If this can happen to Donzo it could happen to anyone. Everyone needs to sail safe.

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latest article from the New London Day...http://www.theday.com/article/20100906/NWS01/309069924/1018

 

Friends mourn sailor's death in 'tragic accident'

By Julianne Hanckel

 

Publication: The Day

 

Published 09/06/2010 12:00 AMUpdated 09/06/2010 03:28 AM Photo Courtesy of the Wilkinson familyDonald Wilkinson was the founding commodore for the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association. Photo Courtesy of the Wilkinson familyDonald Wilkinson was the founding commodore for the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association.

 

Noank man struck by boat's boom during race

 

Groton - As an avid sailor, Donald "Donzo" Wilkinson of Noank raced hard and had an infectious laugh.

 

At 54, he had decades of experience on the water and had captained private yachts and sailboats.

 

"Not only did he understand the wind and the waves and the tide and the weather, he understood how boats were built and what made them go fast," said Greg Gilmartin, racing committee chairman for the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association.

 

But all of Wilkinson's experience did not prevent what happened during a sailboat race in Fishers Island Sound Saturday afternoon.

 

Wilkinson was aboard the 30-foot sailboat One More Time when he was struck on top of his head by the boat's boom. It knocked him unconscious.

 

A fellow crew member among the half dozen on board the Mumm 30 performed CPR on Wilkinson until emergency personnel arrived, according to his father-in-law, George Hohenstein. Wilkinson was brought to shore and then to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London where he died. An autopsy is scheduled to be performed by the Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner.

 

"He died doing what he loved and it was just a tragic accident," Hohenstein said Sunday. "To all of us that sail, we are aware that could happen at anytime."

 

Wilkinson was the husband of Anne Hohenstein Wilkinson and the father of Ben and Sarah Wilkinson.

 

Because of Saturday's windy conditions, a small craft advisory was issued and the race was held inside of more protected Fishers Island Sound instead of going around the island.

 

Another sailboat participating in the race ran aground on South Dumpling Island and was badly damaged. Its crew was rescued by two men aboard a boat watching the race. There were no injuries in that incident.

 

But Hohenstein said the conditions had nothing to do with Wilkinson's death.

 

"There was nothing wrong with being out there yesterday for an experienced sailor or boats. There was nothing unusual about the day," Hohenstein said.

 

Described by Hohenstein as a "lifetime sailor," Wilkinson was not an amateur.

 

He was the founding commodore for the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association, serving from 1979-1980 and again from 1999-2001. He also served on the Board of Managers from 1981-1983.

 

Gilmartin called Wilkinson the "heart and soul of the Mudhead organization."

 

He was a graduate of Fitch High School in Groton and for the past 10 years has owned Northeast Storm Protection, a company specializing in products designed to protect and limit damage to window and door openings caused by high winds, water and flying debris.

 

The flag outside the Wilkinson's Harbor Court home flew at half staff Sunday while friends and family members gathered to console one another.

 

Among them was friend and neighbor Peter Bergendahl.

 

Twenty years ago, their friendship began competitively as they sailed against each other in regattas stretching from Newport, R.I., to Key West, Fla.

 

"He was the most competent person on a boat I've had the pleasure of sailing with," Bergendahl said. "We spend a lot of time together other than sailing. It's quite a loss."

 

A celebration of Wilkinson's life will be held Saturday at the Mystic Congregational Church.

 

The family is asking those planning to attend to wear flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts because he was "most-comfortable in that," Gilmartin said.

 

"He had an infectious laugh, he was full of life and he enjoyed it," Gilmartin said. "The way he laughed was just a part of it."

 

sounds like a legend guy, sail on mate. you are at the club full of legends now.

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Posted · Hidden by Peter Johnstone, September 12, 2010 - felt uncomfortable after posting
Hidden by Peter Johnstone, September 12, 2010 - felt uncomfortable after posting

That was a great scene at Ram Island YC today after the service. Several hundred people all dressed like Don. Hawaiian shirts and flip flops. Great band and party. Beautiful day. A fitting celebration of life.

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And one other note. For all of you still racing, Donzo was one of the best on a boat. If this can happen to Donzo it could happen to anyone. Everyone needs to sail safe.

 

 

So true; worth repeating...

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I questioned whether I could go up to Mystic for the memorial service. After many emails, conversations and phone calls to a multitude of shipmates who were going up I just asked, "what would Donzo want me to do"?

Since I was already scheduled to race on saturday on a 66'er as part of the afterguard, and considering that I'd be there in a position to ensure safety I made the choice with regrets to sail instead.

I can see myself asking my "What Would Donzo Do? The result will probably be Laugh Longer, Joke Better, Smile Bigger & Sail Faster and now to sail safer and not forget how even the most experienced sailors can be surprised in a moment.

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The service on Saturday was very nice, understated, and the attendance amazing, we got there about 9.15 and were just in time to get into the main section of the Church. Afterwards at Ram islandYC when we got to see how many people, not just locally but from Florida, Maryland and elsewhere made the effort to attend to honor Donzo it gave a picture of how many peoples lives he touched. The overwhelming theme was how many of us have known each other sailed together and spent years doing all of the above, but that we need to be better at keeping in touch and having a celebration of all of our lives without the loss that brings us together too seldom and at such a cost.

All our thoughts and prayers are with Anne,Ben and Sarah

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I may have only met Don once, but it was memorable on many levels, and will be very hard to forget him. Don built my boat. I was introduced to Don during last year's Block Island Race Week. I had just met Bob Evelyn and was talking to him about an Evelyn 26 I had purchased the prior year. Bob asked me a few questions about the boat including what color it was. I told Bob it was yellow and I knew for a fact that was it's original color. Bob turned to the guy next to him and asked "Don, do you remember any yellow 26s?". Don replied to me with a question, "What hull number is it?", "Number 6" I answered. Without missing a beat Don gleefully fired back "Yeah, I built that one!"

 

Don, Bob, and I discussed the boat some more and then Bob excused himself. For what seemed like forever, Don and I spoke like we were old friends. He told me stories about working and building boats for Bob, and racing of course. Don was full of energy and truly engaging to talk to.

 

It may seem strange, but to be someone who's life has been sailing, it's very special to meet the person who built the first boat you bought. To be able to see the human side behind something that brings you pleasure.

 

Thank you Don.

 

 

My condolences to Don's family and friends. It is truly said we have lost one of our brothers. Don, may you eternally have fair seas.

 

--Matt

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The tribute brought back a lot of memories for me. That must have been hard for those who put it together. I didn't know Donzo well, but was around him a bunch in the 80's. The first time I met him I asked him where "Donzo" came from. He laughed (that laugh of his) and smiled. I understood right away.

 

In most of those pictures Donzo is laughing. He had an infectious laugh and I can hear it clearly even now! Next time I'm down, I'm going to think of that laugh. Fair winds Donzo.

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Deep condolences for Don and his family whose he left behind. May his soul rest in peace and sailing a yacht to heaven.

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