Its was with huge sadness I heard of the passing of Graham Elmes on Sunday. Graham was a member in Sutton Dinghy Club only a season but his arrival was a hugely positive one for both the GP14 fleet as well as Sutton Dinghy Club itself.
I got to know Graham while sailing Etchells in Howth Yacht Club some years back. Then in 2012 my son David was taken to the GP14 Autumn & Youth Championships in Sligo for his first race in a GP14. Finishing 9th overall in the event and top U16 in tough conditions, he was greatly taken by the boat and the support from his crew. In the Youth event he was crewed by Graham Elmes.
The following week, I called Graham to thank him for looking after David. Graham had no idea David was my son but had been delighted in helping give the younger sailors an opportunity to experience racing a GP14. He talked about getting his own GP14 and felt sailing from Sutton Dinghy Club might afford him the ideal opportunity to get back into racing dinghies again.
In 2013 Graham bought himself a decent boat with the aim of building a campaign through to the Barbados Worlds in 2016. He campaigned out of Sutton Dinghy Club throughout 2013 including some great performances in the Championship and at our end of season frostbite event in November last. Following this Graham had sent his boat up North for some repair work and a re-paint in preparation for a busy season in 2014.
As recent as March, Graham gave a rousing presentation at the ISA Conference on behalf of the GP14 Association outlining why he was back sailing dinghies and how the GP14 might be a key boat in helping keep youth sailors in dinghy racing. A successful Mirror sailor himself in his day, finishing 3rd at the 1995 Mirror Worlds, Graham saw a natural transition from Mirror to GP14.
Graham was well known to many of our junior and youth sailors in Sutton Dinghy Club in his role as coach to the Irish Mirror fleet, especially in preparing for the Mirror Worlds in Lough Derg last year. Many of those youngsters took inspiration also seeing Graham race his GP14 in Sutton throughout 2013. Graham never had a problem sharing his time and his experience when coaching or indeed when down preparing his own boat in the dinghy park.
Taken far too soon, Graham will be greatly missed by Sutton Dinghy Club and by all who knew him in sailing. Our thoughts are with his family.
Andy Johnston (Commodore, Sutton Dinghy Club)
[whohit]-Graham Elmes (RIP)-[/whohit]