A Final Conversation with Harry Anderson

Only days before the world shut down last March, I interviewed Harry Anderson at the retirement home where this legendary sailor spent his final years. Six weeks later, as Seahorse editors were finalizing photos for the June issue and the rest of us were adjusting to life in lockdown, word came in that Harry had crossed the bar—just a few months shy of his 99th birthday. I’m sure he’d nod with twinkling eyes at my immediate takeaway: don’t postpone any opportunity to get out of the house and talk to people.

One hour was not nearly enough, but Harry was well-practiced in sharing his personal perspective on just about every highlight of 20th century sailing. He also told me about just-finalized plans that will likely impact sailing for many years to come. Back at my desk, I filled in any biographical gaps with a close reading of The Strenuous Life of Harry Anderson, a biography by Roger Vaughan (with a foreword from HRH Prince Philip). The result was an article I’m very proud of, and Seahorse has given me permission to share the PDF with all of you. (For their other articles, you’ll have to subscribe.)

The morning Harry died, I went out for a paddle and decided to round a few government marks instead of the usual out-and-back. Even at the time, I smiled to think that I was paddling what sailors call the Harry A—and an hour later when I learned the news, it seemed like he was smiling down at me.

Thanks, Harry, for taking the time to share part of your story, one last time. Thanks also for everything you did (and continue to do) for our sport.

Previous Seahorse profiles: Vince Brun, Dave Perry, and Jud Smith

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