Eight Bells: Graham Henderson

It is with great regret that the NFA have received news of the passing of the legendary Graham Henderson of Felixtowe Ferry Sailing Club on the morning of the 18th July 2019 after a short illness.

Graham was one of the “Ferry legends” from the golden years of Felixtowe Ferry Sailing Club in the ’60’s/’70’s, He crewed Fireflies for many years and was known for his exceptional tactical skill on the racecourse and his wicked sense of fun ashore. As crew of F3113 ‘Lollypop’ (of which he was the first owner) he won the 1972 National Championship sailing with Mike Arnold.

Once his Firefly crewing days were over, Graham became a Principal Race Officer (PRO) par excellence, whose decision making was often likened to being linked to higher powers! His ‘God-like’ ability to make racing decisions was epitomised by his holding the ’82 Nationals fleet ashore for the Gore Cup, until the predicted short weather window in the F6+ had passed through and then running the race in big seas and slightly lighter winds, before the gales kicked in again. Many of the fleet had assumed there was no way they’d be racing and had spent the previous hours in the Ferry Boat Inn imbibing freely of the Adnams (or was it Tolly in those days?)

Graham continued to be very actively involved at FFSC during the intervening years, serving twice as commodore. He would also serve as PRO for many National Championships at the Ferry and the 1989 505 Worlds. Recently he was involved in the organisation and running of the 2017 Firefly Nationals at the club. Graham and the rest of his race team made the 2017 Nationals one for the ages. His influence will be remembered for years to come as one of the factors that has helped reinvigorate the Firefly’s student following. The forty or so students who attended in 2017 loved the venue and the fun of racing (and partying – he was responsible for the boat in the pond) under Graham’s “directives”. Very few race teams could have managed to get every race off first time in such boisterous conditions and yet Graham, Peter and Tim made it look easy.

Graham was also very active within the Ferry community until the present day and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.  His family, the Ferry and his friends have all our class’ condolences. 

Graham’s funeral service will be at Seven Hills Crematorium, Nacton, Ipswich on Thursday 1st August at midday followed by a reception at Felixtowe Ferry Sailing Club.