Extracts from the Eulogy presented by Tim Rix
- Hull Minster – Monday, 14 August 2017
- John Robert Rix was born on 13 December 1934.
Dad loved his family, his sailing and his work. He was a life-long member of the RYYC. He has had a full and eventful life shared with his family, many friends and business colleagues. Dad spent his early years being brought up in Cottingham where as a boy he spent a lot of time with his Grandfather, Bob Rix – an old sea captain who had a tremendous influence on his life.
His love of sailing started on a skiff he built with his Grandfather which he sailed on Brigham Canal but he soon graduated to his first boat in Brid Harbour – “Mona”, a Yorkshire One design, in partnership with his Uncle Les. His boats were always in partnership with Uncle Les until his death in the late 80s.
National Service beckoned and, amazingly, he found himself stationed with the RAF Air Sea Rescue at Bridlington. Quite a feat for somebody with terrible eyesight as – without his glasses he couldn’t see 12” in front of his face. Just the job for looking for downed airmen in the North Sea!
Dad always told the story that his papers had been lost after his initial training in the RAF so he had been given the choice of what he wanted to do. I rather suspect that Grandfather had a big hand in it. Dad therefore spent his 2 years National Service in Brid onboard fast RAF pinnaces, patrolling ranges along the East Coast and spending many hours in all weather conditions anchored off the harbour waiting for the tide. He actually volunteered for that job.
So began Dad’s lifelong involvement with the RYYC and Bridlington Harbour.
It was very handy for somebody spending their 2 years National Service with the RAF in Brid to have their own boat in the harbour and Dad lost no time in making the most of it. His knowledge of Brid Bay was second to none. My early recollection of Rix family life was that it was an interesting affair. Due to his father’s illness, Dad found himself running the fleet of company ships at a very early age. Dad always described himself as a “ship owner” when asked to describe his profession.
My enduring memory of those early days was Dad always on radio link calls to the ships, giving the Masters their orders. If I ever picked up the phone when it rang, it was invariably Knighton Radio putting through a very crackling, distant voice on a link call. We could never go out anywhere unless Dad had access to a telephone. (How life would have been different if mobile phones had been around!) The only time a telephone wasn’t the most important item was when Dad was sailing. Sailing – in fact, took precedence over all else. I don’t think as a family we ever attended a christening or a wedding together if it was on a Saturday or Sunday as Dad was always sailing round Brid Bay.
Dad has always taken his yacht-racing very seriously and you will find his name on every trophy the RYYC possesses – and on some many times. Many people have sailed and learnt from Dad – myself included, but one young lad who cut his teeth sailing with him on his Dragon “Monatoo” – Jimmy Saltonstall, went on to compete at the highest level, to become yachtsman of the year and to coach the British Olympic and Youth squads. Jimmy’s achievement was something Dad was always very proud of.
Dad loved his sailing.
He was a lifelong Member of the RYYC, over the years holding every Office of the Club. As Commodore in the 1980s, he oversaw a resurgence of the Club, both in the number of boats and the Club’s finances. In the mid 80s, Regatta Week could see up to 30 J24s racing each other in the Bay. Crazy J & Dad always fighting their way to the front. Dad moved from the YOD fleet to the international dragon in the 60s. Monatoo not only competed in the Bay but at numerous Edinburgh Cups.
Next, it was a move into the Hustler 30’s as family life beckoned. It was a fiercely competitive fleet and Dynamo was always in the thick of it. Dad actually took Dynamo on the Fastnet races and she was one of the smallest boats ever allowed to take part (her rating had to be increased on paper so she could take part). A big yellow Ericson 37 Dynasoar came next in the 70’s and Dad campaigned her very successfully, especially in Cowes where some great trophies were won. Dynasoar took Dad on many of his first cruises before he traded up to Dynastar a Benatau 500.
Fittingly, for someone so associated with Bridlington, Dad’s first boat – “Mona” and final boat– “Patience” were both Yorkshire One designs. In 2016, Dad campaigned “Patience” in what proved to be his final Regatta Week. After 12 tough races, he finished the week exhausted, beating many much younger competitors. Sadly, of course, unbeknown to us all, Dad was ill. In true John Rix style, he had been hiding his illness from us all for nearly 15 years. But he was still in it to win it right to the very end!
As well as competitive racing, Dad has always enjoyed his cruising, including sailing “Dynasoar” to the Arctic Circle and then “Dynastar” into the warmer climes of the Mediterranean. He has always been joined by his friends – all Yacht Club Members, on his many adventures and latterly when embracing the challenge of organising the annual Life Members Lunch – he very much enjoyed reminiscing every one of those adventures. Dad always entered his voyages into the RYYC Cruising Log Competition. Having donated the trophy, I think he felt honour-bound to try to win it back each year. It was easy to tell when Dad was producing his log because of the congestion & chaos created at the office photocopier!
Because some of Dad’s voyages were venturing into potentially dangerous areas, as a family we considered taking out a Kidnap & Ransom insurance for him. On balance we decided not to – for two reasons.
- firstly, when Dad was ashore in his very scruffy favourite sailing clothes – nobody in their right mind would think to abduct him and,
- secondly, because his standing instructions were that under no circumstances should a ransom be paid! Incidentally, that was his instruction for all members of the family – not just him. This stance made for some interesting family discussions around the dinner table!
Some of the highlights of his cruising career must be his Transatlantic crossing on “Dycer” a 35 ft traditional yacht with Roy Cook, John Bullock and Paul Roach. Dad undertook the navigation with his sextant and made a near perfect landfall. “Dycer” had no home comforts, no electronic navigation or automatic steering – in true Rix style she was hand steered all the way across the Atlantic.
On Dad’s boat, the battery switch was always switched to off to save the battery – with the end result that nothing electrical worked! No water could be used so the tanks didn’t always require topping up and the first lecture any new crew member or visitor got was how to work the toilet. It was always wise to listen to these instructions!
On the water, Dad has had many great shipmates – in particular Jonesie, David & Richard Dunk and David & Richard Armstrong. Dad will be sorely missed by all those who have sailed with him or competed against him.
Just how much Dad touched the lives of so many different people has been very apparent through all the wonderful letters, cards and messages the family have received and for which we all thank you.
I have found myself crying through both laughter and grief as so many past memories have come flooding back reading them. I thought I would just share a small number of paragraphs which really summed Dad up …
- “John was physically small but a man of immense stature. He was inspirational to me and taught me a lot.”
- “On a philosophical level, he was a man of great conviction. We were discussing a date which I said I couldn’t make because I had a cricket match. He gave me chapter and verse about the difference between 3 types of people – those who watched it on TV, those who went to watch and those who took part. When I explained I was playing – John went away happy.”
- “A born competitor, I seem to remember a days sailing wasn’t normal without a tangle with a Harbour Master, Commissioner, a Parking Warden or somebody else in authority. For me – that all added to the fun of sailing with him!”
- “As a teenager and 20-something, J.R. was the man from whom I learnt more of life’s lessons and skills than any other. Using spanners, changing trailer wheels, boiling eggs, putting toilet seats down, mooring boats – but never with a bowline …. I could go on! Of course some of the lessons were accompanied by richly deserved bollockings, whether that was from drunkenly filling his sea-boots with water, performing handbrake turns on his front lawn or ramming his boat in Brid Harbour. I was often in bother with J.R! Thankfully, he soon forgave and forgot.”
- “Rix family life has always been an adventure which many of our friends have experienced too over the years, whether at home, abroad, onboard a boat or on holiday in Cornwall. Whatever happened during the day, it was always Rix rummy in the evenings – JR’s rules, his interpretation being final and definitely no television! “
Dad was a very active man, lived life to the full – sadly, stopped in his tracks by his illness.
It saddens me that he will never see that elusive marina built at Bridlington – a development he believed in for the betterment of Bridlington and all the people living in the surrounding area.
Dad was a stickler for table manners and making sure the toilet seat was down after using the facility. I hope heaven is ready for him. There will definitely be no first class rail travel allowed there when he arrives.
John Rix, Husband, Father, Grandfather, a man who always knew his own mind, looked after and loved those around him, fiercely competitive on the water, astute and fair in business, knowledgeable beyond words.
Dad, we will all miss you. Bon voyage. May you sail on forever.