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Eight Bells - Bill Ficker

20 posts in this topic

Just saw on FB from Tom Ehman that Bill Ficker, 1970 helmsman of America's Cup winner Intrepid, passed away yesterday March 13.

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Bill was one of my sailing heros when I was cutting my teeth racing in Long Beach at Alamitos Bay. My biggest mentor was Henry Sprague and he had won the Congressional Cup in 69 and it was '74 when Ficker won.

 

'Ficker is Quicker' was a popular war cry.

 

http://www.thecongressionalcup.com/content/360/FickerCup.aspx

 

The Ficker Cup

 

 

FickerTrophy_Lg.jpg

 

Bill looks lonely here,

 

mrg283-mrg23pmakingwavesboat.jpg

 

Fair winds, Bill.

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Probably around 1974 or so, I was 16. Called him up out of the blue to invite him to speak to us Sea Scouts at one of our meetings at the Sea Base in Newport Beach. He readily agreed and spent quite a bit of time with us that evening.

 

Nice man, RIP Mr. Ficker.

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Bill was one of my sailing heros when I was cutting my teeth racing in Long Beach at Alamitos Bay. My biggest mentor was Henry Sprague and he had won the Congressional Cup in 69 and it was '74 when Ficker won.

 

'Ficker is Quicker' was a popular war cry.

 

http://www.thecongressionalcup.com/content/360/FickerCup.aspx

 

The Ficker Cup

 

 

FickerTrophy_Lg.jpg

 

Bill looks lonely here,

 

mrg283-mrg23pmakingwavesboat.jpg

 

Fair winds, Bill.

Hey Rasputin,

 

I just tried, but failed, to pm you. I could have written the post your wrote. I went through the jr program and raced out of ABYC from 1965 - 1974. As Tempesta would say, "Do you know who I am?"

 

Bob Shirley

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"Ficker is Quicker" from that i came up with, for myself, Boat Speed makes you a Tactical Wizard. thank you Bill and our condolences to the family. RIP

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Bill was one of my sailing heros when I was cutting my teeth racing in Long Beach at Alamitos Bay. My biggest mentor was Henry Sprague and he had won the Congressional Cup in 69 and it was '74 when Ficker won.

 

'Ficker is Quicker' was a popular war cry.

 

http://www.thecongressionalcup.com/content/360/FickerCup.aspx

 

The Ficker Cup

 

 

FickerTrophy_Lg.jpg

 

Bill looks lonely here,

 

mrg283-mrg23pmakingwavesboat.jpg

 

Fair winds, Bill.

 

Never lonely when he had his boat beneath him. He loved single-handing as much as anyone I have ever known. Fair winds, following seas. Condolences to the family.

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Fair winds Mr. Ficker. RIP.

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lovely man and wonderful wife. last time i saw him was in the NHYC bar for the 1st race in SF of the AC in cats. I told him we could get the band back together and give it a whirl....he laughed....class act all the way around.

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RSE83129_large.jpeg?v=1464138618

 

A true gentleman as well as a great sailor.

Sail on, Bill!

 

FB- Doug

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What an amazing person, fantastic sailor and part of our yachting history. Fair winds Mr. Ficker, fair winds. They simply don't make 'em like that anymore. Very sad day. For those that may not remember...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niWmIDOAFMU

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Class act. I was lucky to spend an afternoon in Newport talking to him about catamarans racing in the Little America's Cup in 2004. What a thrill for me. He was incredibly friendly and engaging. Left me with his business card and told me to look him up if I was in California. Warm winds Bill.

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Bill Ficker was a friend, competitor, mentor, my boss. Bill's 1958 World Champion Starboat NHYCUSA (Newport Harbor Yacht Club USA) was always immaculately prepared. I should know. My Star was parked in an adjacent stall, and I worked a summer job for Bill in his architect's office.

 

Friday afternoons Bill would send me off early from work to wet sand the bottom of NHYCUSA, first with #800 fine grit, then #1200 extra fine. Years later I wondered if Bill didn't enjoy having the kid smoothing his boat's bottom, knowing I wouldn't have time to fine-tune my own boat for that weekend's race. It was part of the psyche, and Bill was very good at that.

 

Bill was a quiet but fierce competitor, finely attuned to both the rules and winning tactics. You knew if Bill got ahead, you'd never pass him back. Bill was always conservative, never taking flyers if behind. And when he got ahead, he would always tack to cross, to consolidate his lead.

 

Bill, encouraged by his sister Sue and father Pete, was already a good sailor as a kid. At Cal Berkeley, Bill, with Lowell North and Larry Shep, made a formidable intercollegiate team. They would likely have won the 1950 championships, but Lowell broke his leg and couldn't sail. Dick Carter and Bobby Monetti came out from Yale and won by a point in a photo finish in the last race. That's Monetti holding the Morss trophy, Dick Carter immediately to his left in the dark shirt and shorts, and Bill Ficker standing tall behind Monetti, second from right, with the towel and head of hair.

 

post-17096-0-38386100-1489556325_thumb.jpg

 

I couldn't help but learn when sailing against Bill Ficker. I knew I was sailing against the very best. Even watching from astern was a pleasure: you just knew Bill was on the right tack, his Baxter and Cicero sails perfectly shaped and trimmed for the breeze and sea conditions.

 

Once, in a Star fleet race, Bill's NHYCUSA and I were starting at the weather end. We had a perfectly timed start, and NHYCUSA, to weather, was a few seconds early and barging. I was about to tell the master, “No room, Bill, you're barging!” when Bill, without looking, said in a firm, level-toned voice, “Skip, I'm gonna need room, I have an absolute.”

 

I couldn't remember what an “absolute” was or if I'd read about it. I wavered at the tiller, and Bill slipped NHYCUSA through the hole we opened and sailed off to another win.

 

That afternoon as we washed our boats off, I mustered the nerve to ask Bill, “what's an 'absolute'?” With a wry grin Bill said to the 14 year old kid “why Skip, an “absolute” means I have absolutely no rights.”

 

post-17096-0-54239900-1489556205_thumb.jpg

Bill Ficker. Great guy, wonderful sailor, true gentleman.

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Class acts...Ficker and that mesmerizing boat!

 

We cannot bring him back, but we can bring back the boats! Embrace the concept, pass it on!

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Pre-trials and selection trials used to be held in WLIS right there off of Bayville Beach. I can remember as a kid being out on Dad's Rhodes Ranger to watch the spectacle. You could get pretty close, not too many boats about and before the racing the 12's would mill about. Close proximity to Intrepid and we shouted over to Ficker and crew wishing them and her the best of luck. Ficker waving back, all smiles and thank yous. Like our words of encouragement meant something to him and their Corinthian efforts. Very special man.

Bill Ficker, you were my Dad's hero, and mine too. Thank you and sail on forever in the lead sir.

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Bill was one of my sailing heros when I was cutting my teeth racing in Long Beach at Alamitos Bay. My biggest mentor was Henry Sprague and he had won the Congressional Cup in 69 and it was '74 when Ficker won.

 

'Ficker is Quicker' was a popular war cry.

 

http://www.thecongressionalcup.com/content/360/FickerCup.aspx

 

The Ficker Cup

 

 

FickerTrophy_Lg.jpg

 

Bill looks lonely here,

 

mrg283-mrg23pmakingwavesboat.jpg

 

 

Fair winds, Bill.

Awesome shot. Tube locked boom with the meat below. Looks like he sailing a huge soling.

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Bill Ficker was a friend, competitor, mentor, my boss. Bill's 1958 World Champion Starboat NHYCUSA (Newport Harbor Yacht Club USA) was always immaculately prepared. I should know. My Star was parked in an adjacent stall, and I worked a summer job for Bill in his architect's office.

 

Friday afternoons Bill would send me off early from work to wet sand the bottom of NHYCUSA, first with #800 fine grit, then #1200 extra fine. Years later I wondered if Bill didn't enjoy having the kid smoothing his boat's bottom, knowing I wouldn't have time to fine-tune my own boat for that weekend's race. It was part of the psyche, and Bill was very good at that.

 

Bill was a quiet but fierce competitor, finely attuned to both the rules and winning tactics. You knew if Bill got ahead, you'd never pass him back. Bill was always conservative, never taking flyers if behind. And when he got ahead, he would always tack to cross, to consolidate his lead.

 

Bill, encouraged by his sister Sue and father Pete, was already a good sailor as a kid. At Cal Berkeley, Bill, with Lowell North and Larry Shep, made a formidable intercollegiate team. They would likely have won the 1950 championships, but Lowell broke his leg and couldn't sail. Dick Carter and Bobby Monetti came out from Yale and won by a point in a photo finish in the last race. That's Monetti holding the Morss trophy, Dick Carter immediately to his left in the dark shirt and shorts, and Bill Ficker standing tall behind Monetti, second from right, with the towel and head of hair.

 

attachicon.gifBill Ficker.jpg

 

I couldn't help but learn when sailing against Bill Ficker. I knew I was sailing against the very best. Even watching from astern was a pleasure: you just knew Bill was on the right tack, his Baxter and Cicero sails perfectly shaped and trimmed for the breeze and sea conditions.

 

Once, in a Star fleet race, Bill's NHYCUSA and I were starting at the weather end. We had a perfectly timed start, and NHYCUSA, to weather, was a few seconds early and barging. I was about to tell the master, “No room, Bill, you're barging!” when Bill, without looking, said in a firm, level-toned voice, “Skip, I'm gonna need room, I have an absolute.”

 

I couldn't remember what an “absolute” was or if I'd read about it. I wavered at the tiller, and Bill slipped NHYCUSA through the hole we opened and sailed off to another win.

 

That afternoon as we washed our boats off, I mustered the nerve to ask Bill, “what's an 'absolute'?” With a wry grin Bill said to the 14 year old kid “why Skip, an “absolute” means I have absolutely no rights.”

 

attachicon.gifbill ficker 001.jpg

Bill Ficker. Great guy, wonderful sailor, true gentleman.

 

 

I didn't know Bill Ficker. Well before my time. But, I now know who you are! And this post was excellent.

 

Very cool bit of history, right here.

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With the boom right on deck Intrepid was the coolest looking 12. When you see the older ones with the coffee grinders up on deck it looks really strange, as 1970 was the first Cup match that I ever knew of, then later you had the cockpits starting in '77. The video posted on FB really shows how well Ficker and Steve Vandyke worked together. (I've had it on VHS for years)

 

His reply after a rambling Turner response of how he was glad to be an American and everything of "Thanks Ted for that analysis of the racing today" was classic, showing how something off the wall did not throw him.

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