A great sailor, sailboat builder and promoter for the sport. Glad I have one of his boats also. He was always willing to lend a hand to help improve performance but always finished with “just put her back to stock...”
Below is the Obituary:
William C. Roberts, Jr. died peacefully Friday evening April 12, 2019 at his home on the St. Lucie River in Palm City, FL doing what he loved best, preparing to go long distance racing on one of the world’s fastest production sailing catamarans of his own design.
Billy, as he was then known, was born in 1938 in Chattanooga, TN. Bill was first and foremost a true Southern gentleman….soft spoken and sweet….funny and witty….with an infectious smile and beautiful blue eyes. He was humble about his accomplishments and generous with his knowledge and time spent helping others. He loved giving gardenia flowers from his yard to his friends and family.
Bill was an exceptional athlete at Baylor School, in Chattanooga winning Mid-South individual and team championships in wrestling, track and football. Even more exceptional was his winning the Junior National Snipe Sailing Regatta the summer before his senior year. Billy sailed out of Privateer Yacht Club, which his father was instrumental in establishing. He attended Vanderbilt University, graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1960. For his senior mechanical engineering project, he hand-built and raced a “rail job” dragster powered by a Chrysler “hemi” V-8 engine fueled by Purple Gulf Crest gasoline because (ever the engineer) “it had the highest octane rating and highest energy density of any available automotive gasoline.”
Following graduation, Bill began a long and productive career at Pratt & Whitney at its research and development facility in Palm Beach County, FL. Many patents were obtained on innovations he envisioned and perfected for the J58, F15, and F16 aircraft. Most notable was his solution to a metal fatigue issue on which Pratt and other aircraft engine manufactures had spent hundreds of millions of dollars on metallurgical research. Bill’s mechanical system solution increased jet engine life by 200% - 300% and increased fuel efficiency. This patented solution was so important that the Federal government required Pratt to provide this solution to GE and other manufactures of military jet engines.
Sailboat racing and going fast were Bill’s passions. He won the Flying Dutchman class national championship and was an alternate on the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team for the 1968 Mexico Olympics. In 1970 Bill began sailing in the Contender class, a one man trapeze boat. Bill was US national Champion on the Contender six years in a row. Ever the engineer, he designed and built a succession of catamaran sailboats that were rated the fastest production sailboats in the world. In 1980, Bill was the first American to win the world’s largest and most competitive catamaran sailing race around the Isle of Texel in the North Sea, sailing a SuperCat 20, a boat of his own design, and setting a new course record. Never one to rest on his successes; Bill went on to design, build, and race the RC-27, RC-30, and ARC 22 catamarans. Bill’s boats can be found sailing in numerous areas around the world including Holland, Switzerland, Spain, Barbados, the Virgin Islands, and throughout the United States.
Over the years, Bill won numerous overall sailing championships multiple times including the St. John’s River Mug Race, the Miami to Key Largo Race, the Key Largo Steeplechase, and the Fort Walton Beach Round the Island Race. Bill and his son Eric hold the elapsed time race records for many of the races. Bill and his children, Sydney and Eric, sailed together for decades and formed a special bond while sharing great adventures. He continuously sought to improve the performance of his boat and to share his knowledge and enthusiasm with his fellow sailors. Bill, may you always sail faster than the wind!
Bill was preceded in death by his infant son, Blake; his father, “Dixie” Roberts; his mother, Louise Roberts; and his sister, “Trish” Morrison. He is survived by his daughter, Dr. Sydney Roberts, and wife, Susanne Keough, of Atlanta, GA; his son, Dr. Eric Roberts, and wife, Dr. Lisa Estes, of Tequesta, FL; his brothers, Larry (Marty) Roberts and Alex (Priscilla) Roberts of Signal Mountain, TN; and the children and grandchildren of his siblings.
Bill Roberts was a magnificent and amazing man who will forever be remembered in our hearts and minds. No words can express the impact he had on those who had the pleasure of knowing him.
A private service will be held at a later date. Memorial donations may be made to organizations that promote sailing, YMCA of the Treasure Coast (Stuart, FL), or to a favorite charity.
Last edited by cyberspeed; 04/22/19 12:31 PM.