Friday, January 22, 2010

Tribute For Brian Palfreeman

By Pierre Jasmin from the Montreal Etchells website

To all sailors,

As many of you know by now, our friend and fellow Etchells racer Brian passed away last Sunday. Louis B. asked me to write a few words about Brian as I knew him very well throughout the years of racing both with and against him and I am honored to do so.

It is always difficult to write about some one in situations like these and I wonder if I am up to the task of writing about a great man, but here goes anyway...

I have known Brian since joining PCYC around 30 years ago. I was a Fireball racer back then, and Brian was already a well known champion around the club. It was about 1988 that I bought my first keelboat, a Kirby 25 that I finally got acquainted more personnally with Brian, mainly through the Hudson annual dock parties on his Mega 30 and because of Mark, his son, who became a good friend of mine (and excellent party animal!). The years went by, and so did Brian's victories in PHRF and all that time Brian would always volunteer some wise advice after the race with his tongue in cheek style.

In 1995, I sold my Kirby to start my brewpub in Tremblant. Sylvie and I soon became Brian's crew and we sailed through to 2003 with him. About 5 years on the Mega, and then two more on the Etchells. There was never a single moment of yelling or panic aboard Brian's boats and always a good lunch provided by Mado. Sailing with Brian was always a relaxing experience and I had the chance to observe this master up close. What I learnt from him was to stay focused on basics, nothing fancy. Keep the boat moving with proper sail trim, make quick decisions on the game plan and stick to it, and in close encounters with doubtfull results, be a gentleman and let the other boat through (we'll get them later...).

The rest is history, a bunch of us bought a number of Etchells in 2003 and 2004 to build the actual PCYC fleet, and to this date Brian and crew were always a force to be dealt with. This fleet would never of happened without him.

Of course there is so much more to Brian than what I just wrote. I recall many long warm conversations with Brian and Mado during those endless hours of waiting for wind that us racers are so familiar with. My own dad passed away in 2000, and I felt a special bond with Brian building since then. He always had kind words for me and always took the time to stop by and say hello and chat about all and nothing. He was a genuine kind soul, the type of guy I would like to be.

I am not afraid to admit I loved him very much, and I feel as if my own dad has just passed away again. Brian has helped me become a better sailor, and more importantly, a better person.

I am sure you all join me in saying: "Good bye Brian, farewell my friend."