Deceased , Modern



“God”…father of sailing in Hawai’i”


The following was posted on Sail-World on September 15, 2006

Cy Gillette Dies in His 93rd Year

We have been advised that long time US and international Judge and Umpire, and sailor, Cy Gillette has passed away in his 93rd year.

Long Beach Yacht Club Honored Cy some years ago with a Crimson Blazer for his services to Match Racing, at LBYC and around the world.

Hailing from Hawaii, Cy continued to race well into his ’90’s.

We republish the following citation from 1995 when he was awarded the Nathanael G. Herreshoff Trophy for outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing by US Sailing.

On October 21, 1995 Cy Gillette, a long-time Hawai`i businessman, sailor and commodore of the Royal Hawaiian Ocean Racing Club was awarded the Nathanael G. Herreshoff Trophy for outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing by US SAILING the governing body for sailing in the United States.

Commodore Gillette has been involved in yacht racing for most of his 82 years, first as a junior and intercollegiate sailor in his home state of Michigan, and then as the mentor of the sport in Hawai`i since the end of World War II.

Commodore Gillette’s experience covers all aspects of the sport, from dinghies to offshore maxis. He is a member of the Intercollegiate Yacht Racing Hall of Fame and has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Trans Pacific Yacht Club for many years.

‘Transpac’ as it has come to be known, was at one time the longest sailboat race in the world, starting in San Pedro, California and ending in Honolulu, Hawai`i, a distance of 2,250 miles.

He became the first commodore of the Hawai`i Yacht Racing Association (HYRA), when it was formed in 1966, and subsequently served as secretary of HYRA from 1969 to 1985. He has served as commodore of the Kaneohe Yacht Club twice and been Commodore of the Royal Hawaiian Ocean Racing Club since its inception in 1985.

He was one of the first members of the US SAILING judges committee and acted as regional administrative judge for Area H-W from the beginning of that program until 1991. He has also been the Area H member of the board of directors of US SAILING for many years, rotating every three years with the representative from area H-E.

Gillette was one of the originators of the umpiring program that was first tested with the International Class A Yachting Association (Maxis) in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1985, and assisted in establishing the International Yacht Racing Union’s (IYRU) umpiring program.

He has been an IYRU judge and umpire since the origination of both of the above programs and has been involved in numerous America’s Cup programs in both capacities.

In addition, he has been an active member of the Council of Sailing Associations for nearly 30 years, during which time he has made significant contributions to that body.

There are very few people who have spent the number of years dedicated to the sport of sailing that Commodore Gillette has. The award of the Herreshoff Trophy to this outstanding member of the sailing community is a fitting tribute to his tireless and continuing commitment to the advancement of the sport of sailing.

This trophy is emblematic of the highest level of service to the sport, and Commodore Gillette has surpassed it.

The Nathanael G. Herreshoff Trophy was donated in 1957 by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and is awarded annually to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the sport of sailing in this country in any associated activity. It is the United States Sailing Association’s most prestigious award.

Editor’s Note: Cy Gillette – he was a lovely guy – I did an international umpires’ seminar in Long Beach with him in ’91, and worked with him a couple of times in the Steinlager Cup as it then was before that in NZL.

He was always very easy to get on with and had time for everyone involved in sailing no matter how big or small. Although relatively small in stature, Cy was larger than life, and one of those people who always stick in your mind, and who you know will always be the same, and think the same, no matter how old they are.

When we used to umpire back in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s there were no RIBs, and we used large launches or substantial powerboats and did our best.

My last memory of Cy is at the Congressional Cup in ’91, when everyone else got assigned boats and drivers – except for Cy, who grabbed the launch with the tallest tuna tower and he drove and umpired from up there. He looked to be right in his element, and of course he had a fantastic vantage point from which to work. For the sailors, it must have been like they were being umpired by God. Cy was so high up and then behind a screen that you could hardly see him.

Ashore he was great, although he as one of the most experienced at the seminar, he listened to what was being said and then injected his words of wisdom and his perspective. All in a very low-key way which is the trait of great people.

You very quickly realized that Cy was a guy who had spent an awful lot of time hanging around yachts and on the racecourse.

One of the truly great ones, he will be missed by all.

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