Sir Peter Johnson (GBR), former Chairman of the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) who retired in April 2003, died after a long battle against cancer, on Saturday 24 May, at his home in Lymington, Great Britain.
Sir Peter was a leading figure in the world of yacht racing and held a number of senior posts in clubs and organisations, playing strong roles in the yacht rating development, and was instrumental in establishing the World Sailing Speed Record Council, of which he was chairman from 1990 until 2003. He was a prominent journalist and yachting historian, contributing thousands of articles to the leading sailing journals, and wrote 15 books on yachting. In 1976 he became the Seventh Baronet of New York, an inherited title that was established in 1755.
He started sailing in cruising and ocean going yachts in 1944, and covered many thousands of miles, a pastime which lasted until three years ago when he 'retired' to a 31ft motorboat and enjoyed cruising with his family. He owned a string of racing yachts and competed in more than ten Fastnet races including surviving the gruelling 1979 race in which 15 people drowned, and the 1999 Fastnet at the age of 69.
His involvement with shaping the government of yacht racing included serving in major capacities on racing's leading committees. He held the office of Captain of the Junior Offshore Group from 1965 - 1968 and was its president from 1979 - 1983. He served on the committees of the Royal Yachting Association, the Royal Ocean Racing Club, and was Chairman of the International Technical Committee (Rules Committee) of the Offshore Racing Council. Until several weeks ago he was chairman of the ISAF World Sailing Speed Record Council.
In the late 70s Peter pioneered the introduction of the first offshore one-design classes, chairing think tanks which included such prominent designers as Olin STEPHENS (USA) and the late Gary MULL (USA). The results were the first classes to be introduced in 1977 which included the Jeremy ROGERS built OOD 34 class one of which Peter went on to own and race successfully for several years.
During his career as a journalist he was chairman of the Yachting Journalists' Association. He was offshore correspondent for Yachting World for ten years and contributed historic, topical and even controversial articles until quite recently.
He leaves behind Lady Caroline Johnson, to whom he was married for 30 years. He had four children and three grandchildren.