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The Billingham Buoy

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  • The Billingham Buoy

    It’s all in the Bs.
    The B Buoy on the cityfront of San Francisco.
    Bob “Buddha” Billingham. And I know Bob’s not in love with that nickname . . .
    Just as he knows he can’t quite escape it. This comes up because the renaming of the B Buoy became official on the night of March 25, at the St. Francis Sailing Foundation’s 2014 auction fundraiser—think Olympic sailors, disabled sailors, underprivileged youth—where the biggest chunk of the $100,000+ take came, not in the form of bidding on stuff to take home, but in the form of contributions to said renaming.
    we have the Billingham Buoy.

    It’s out of the water for painting at the moment, but soon it will be back in the water in the traditional spot just off the windows of the St. Francis Yacht Club, a familiar sight to thousands of sailors. What would prompt such an outpouring? Well, it’s more than Bob’s list of successes in business or sailing, that’s for sure. It’s somewhere in a realm that you can’t quite put your finger on, somewhere between incredible physical power and a quiet, self-effacing regard for everyone around him. And the successes. And the contributions. Long service on the St. Francis Foundation. Long service with the US Olympic Committee. Winning AC crew in 1992, and so on.

    As a project manager, Bob has run America’s Cup campaigns, and he was the facilities manager for America’s Cup 34—meaning that his job description was to produce miracles. But my favorite Billingham moment goes back to 1988, when he was middle crew and, yes, project manager for an Olympic Soling campaign with John Kostecki driving and Will Baylis on the bow. Not long before it was time to take off for the Games at Pusan and a silver medal, Kostecki and Billingham were in front of an audience on the SF cityfront.

    Someone asked them if they needed more money.
    In the same breath, John said “No.” Bob said “yes.”

    There are plenty of people who have strong feelings about the Bs and the new Billingham Buoy. Further contributions can be made via the St. Francis Sailing Foundation web site.
    Bob, thanks for saying “yes” again. To the renaming—Kimball
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  • #2
    Unfortunately I understand that Bob passed over the bar this past weekend having succumbed to cancer after a valiant battle. Fair winds Bob..


    • #3
      So sorry to here.

      Condolences to the Billinghams.


      • #4
        Fair winds Bob, ye shall be missed!


        • #5
          RIP Hobie Alter and Bob Billingham
          By Kimball Livingston Posted March 31, 2014

          The news hit me when I was living life to the full and feeling every minute of it.
          Somehow, that seems right.

          The last time I saw Bob Billingham, he was setting up to do America’s Cup commentary in a setting that, as Project Manager, he had orchestrated. He showed no sign of the cancer or the treatments that had been in his foreground for years, and I never heard a word out of his own mouth about them. Nothing slowed Bob down until he hit the wall, and he hit the wall fast forward. In 2013, I heard a friend say that the America’s Cup was keeping him alive – to fill its demands – but Bob disappeared over the winter, and I started hearing of a fast slide, not to be talked about openly. Bob was never afraid of having a public presence, as long as it wasn’t “about” him.

          Only a week ago I was writing about the naming of a racing mark in his honor, the Billingham Buoy, a mark on the cityfront of San Francisco. But I was fully briefed to not say what many of us knew, that Bob had run out of time. He died only five days later at home in Grass Valley, California, surrounded by family.
          Hobie Alter? The man altered our world. From surfboards to an off-the-beach catamaran culture all its own to a 22-foot monohull type than can still win races, Hobie was a man, a name, a brand and a lifestyle. He once explained himself by way of saying that his goal in life was to “never have to wear hard-soled shoes or live east of the Pacific Coast Highway.” If he turned into a mountain man later on, well, he never was much on rules, even his own.

          Thank you, Bob. Thank you, Hobie.

          " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

 Photo Gallery


          • #6
            Sad news. Condolences to family.


            • #7
              Fair Winds Buddah!