Richard Anthony Hoad, affectionately known as “Uncle Tony” to most of the sailing community, passed away on the 21st of August in Barbados, surrounded by his family. He was 88.
Tony was one of the best-known and respected sailors in the southern Caribbean, due in no small part to his outgoing personality and longstanding dedication to the sport. Effortlessly sociable, he could converse with everyone from royalty to small children. Even when not sailing, he was a regular at the Barbados Yacht Club (BYC), where he was a former Commodore and took tea on Fridays and weekends.
Tony Hoad having tea in 1979
Tony was born on 24 October 1930, the third child of Maggie and E.L.G. (Teddy) Hoad, who had 8 children in all (including 7 sons). Teddy was captain of the West Indies cricket team in the 1930s and also a top local yachtsman. A young Tony excelled at cricket and hockey. But sailing was in his blood.
A rebel from a young age, Tony left school early but was very gifted in art and drawing. This led him to become a self-taught architect who produced designs that were outside the box and way before their time. One of his early designs featured a unique inward-sloping roof that was set inside the walls. His family moved into this house in 1951 and it survived the devastation caused by the 1955 category three hurricane “Janet”. A later design, which is surely also hurricane proof, resembles an upside-down canoe.
The “Upside-down boat house”.
Tony started sailing young, along with his brothers George and Bill. He and Bill won a Bronze Medal in the Snipe class at the 1966 CAC Games in Puerto Rico. In 1992 he represented Barbados at the Barcelona Olympics in the Soling class and was the Flag Bearer that led the Barbadian contingent into the stadium for the Opening Ceremony. He was the oldest competitor in the 1992 Games.
Tony was also a staunch defender of fairness and did not hesitate to use his privileged position to fight for the rights of those less fortunate than himself. He was a former President of the Barbados Sailing Association and stayed on the management board long after his tenure ended. He was a strong and vocal advocate for youth sailing and dinghy sailing. There is not a sailor over the age of 20 who hasn’t received his encouragement, advice (often unsolicited) and, if appropriate, reprimand!
In 1966 CAC Games in Puerto Rico he and brother Bill exchanged shirts with the Cuban. When traveling back to their facility, the bus driver told them that they could not wear the shirts for “security reasons”. Tony said he was there to race fairly against anyone and was not taking off the shirt! The whole bus erupted in clapping, the security team left and they went back to the village with no problems.
Tony had a big heart and was quick to extend his hospitality to anyone who needed it. Few visitors to the BYC escaped his notice and his table rarely had fewer than half a dozen guests. In the years when the ARC race ended in Barbados, his wife Sheila never knew how many sailors would be coming home in the evenings, to make use of the washing machine or enjoy a home-cooked meal!
But he was perhaps most prolific in introducing non-sailors to the sport. For many years he could be seen on a Saturday afternoon, in an old Sunfish or Topper, showing a landlubber the simple joy of harnessing the wind in the sails.
Tony teaching in a Sunfish
Young at heart, Tony could often be heard beginning a sentence with the phrase “When I get old…” Although suffering from Parkinson’s disease, he was still mobile and his spirit remained as fiery as ever. Less than a month before his passing, he had been dancing at the Yacht Club’s Friday night party. A few weeks later a fell required an operation and hospitalisation, during which he caught pneumonia and did not recover. His was a life lost too early.
Tony married first Brenda, with whom he had Sonia and Richard, and secondly Sheila, with whom he had David. Our condolences go out to them and all of his extended family. We thank Tony for his enormous contribution to sailing in Barbados. To paraphrase our national anthem, he was truly a Craftsman of our Fate.
A celebration of his life will be held on 24 October at the Coral Ridge Memorial Gardens and Crematorium.