We’re sending our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of David Pelly who has passed away after a long illness. This obit has been provided by his daughter Tessa and is accompanied by a favourite family photo of this delightful, gentle man.
Born in 1941, David Pelly remembered London during the war, with breakfast crockery shaking on the table. He first took the helm of a boat at the age of seven and was closely involved with sailing ever since, even sailing a Firefly on the East Coast last autumn. He was an active participant in virtually every type of sailing from offshore racing to board sailing and was one of the first people in Britain to own a Windsurfer.
After training initially as a newspaper reporter he transferred to the magazine Yachting World and worked there for a number of years, becoming the Assistant Editor. After work in public relations, and as Editor of the magazine Offshore Sailing he became yachting correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph. David was a yachting journalist in the heyday – when every broadsheet sent someone to report on major regattas. There were tales of long dinners, late night bicycle crashes at Olympic venues and various other adventures.
David’s interest in high speed sailing went back to the early 1970’s when he helped to organise the first speed trials at Burnham-on-Crouch. He was a member of the Icarus syndicate which campaigned a hydrofoiling Tornado and was aboard on several of her record-breaking runs. In 1984 he wrote Faster! Faster! the quest for sailing speed which told the story of speed under sail and the hydrofoiling boats of the day.
He was a long serving member of the World Sailing Speed Record Council, a founding Chairman of the Windsurfer Class Association and Chair of the Yachting Journalists Association 1998 – 2001. He spent many years writing for Boat International, marvelling at the marble baths and gold sinks on opulent Superyachts.
David died, aged 79, after a long illness. He is survived by his wife, Philippa, daughters, Tessa and Lorna and four Grandchildren.