It was with great shock that we heard the news on Sunday of the sudden passing of Ethan Banks, one of the Clubs young sailors. Ethan had crewed for Alan Carr for the last 2 seasons on his IDRA 14/38 Starfish. Ethan was only 18 and died after a brief battle with a rare and aggressive form of meningitis.
There will be a Guard of Honour of sailors, & families & friends of sailors at the gate of Sutton Dinghy Club at 1 pm on Friday 7th October when the hearse & funeral procession will drive past. We would ask you to give this your support.
A short and touching tribute to Ethan from his skipper Alan Carr:
We were sailing together in the Clontarf IDRA 14 Autumn series on Sunday. He went into hospital on Thursday. He died on Saturday. It was all so sudden. So shocking. So heart breaking. A bright light extinguished in the blink of an eye.
Ethan lived next door to me on Shielmartin road. Until June of 2021, the only thing I knew about Ethan is that he was a great drummer. I loved to listen to him practicing. He had great rhythm.
Then, last year out of the blue he came into my front garden when I was rigging my IDRA 14 – Number 38 Starfish. Ethan and I rigged her, brought her down to Sutton Dinghy Club, and took her for her first sail since the start of the pandemic. It was a great day. Blue skies. Moderate Wind. High tide.
Ethan had never sailed dinghies before that day, and only done an introductory J80 course. But from the moment we went on the water, I knew he was a natural. He took to trapeze and spinnaker work like he had been doing it all his life. After that first afternoon, we sailed together almost every day for a couple of weeks. Practicing tacking, gybing, spinnaker hoists and drops, light wind drills, heavy weather drills, starts, mark rounding, and recovering from every mistake we imagined we might make when racing. It’s a rare thing to find someone who, in such a short space of time, can become a top class dinghy crew. Well Ethan did just that. He was so curious, sharp and determined. He was delighted when we performed well in club races, and then won the Sutton Dinghy Club Regatta in 2021.
In 2022 we sailed together at the IDRA 14 Northern Championships in Rostrevor and the National Championships in Foynes. We got light winds in Rostrevor and at Foynes it was honking. Ethan rose to both challenges. He sailed brilliantly, getting us in the top 3 at both events. In light winds he was patient, thoughtful and still. In heavy weather he pushed himself to the limits. He was courageous and tireless. He also pushed me to up my game when my energy dropped. No matter what the conditions he was always very competitive, and brilliant fun to sail with.
Ethan made great friends in the IDRA class. Although he was only with us for a short time, it feels to many of us like he has always been there. This a reflection on the kind of person he was. Friendly. Enthusiastic. Full of joie de vivre. Ethan was ‘full on’. At the late night sessions at the IDRA Nationals in Foynes, Ethan came into his own. He excelled at the ‘Indoor Olympics Obstacle Course’ and the ‘Indoor Parkour Speed Championships’. He was quirky, funny, and generous. He warmed our hearts with his own distinctive style.
Of course dinghy sailing was only one side of Ethan’s sailing life. He also crewed on Puppeteers, Howth 17s, and with Pat O’Neill on Mojo, the high performance J80. It was no surprise to me that Ethan was in such demand as a crew at Howth Yacht Club. He was a champion sailor in the making.
In the week before he died Ethan was considering his CAO options and had his heart set on engineering; he played a practice gig with his band; he went to some culture night events with his family; he sailed with Sara on a Puppeteer in HYC; and sailed with me in Starfish at Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club. He was living life to the full. Giving it his very best shot and enjoying every minute.
That’s how I remember him. A bright light. A force of nature. A champion sailor in the making. A true friend. I miss him and wish him fair winds.
Skipper of IDRA 14 / 38 Starfish.