Eight Bells: Bruce Sutphen

Posted February 25, 2018

It is with a heavy heart that we let you know that Bruce Sutphen, 1987 Sunfish World Champion, passed away on February 22nd after a yearlong battle with cancer.

Bruce’s wife started a blog after he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma on early 2017.

Bruce Sutphen, 1965 - 2018

Click here to read 1987 Sunfish World Championship story highlighting Bruce’s win in Aruba’s waters.

Peter Johnstone, Lead partner and President of Sunfish Laser from 1991-1997 shared a few words with us earlier today:

“I am very sad to hear of Bruce Sutphen’s passing.  We first raced against each other in High School, and then sailed together on the Connecticut College Sailing Team.  After college, he enthusiastically joined me in purchasing the Sunfish and Laser assets out of bankruptcy.  We were both mid-20’s. Bruce had recently won the Sunfish Worlds.  Over the next several years, we enjoyed racing against each other in Sunfish and Laser regattas and turning around these iconic sailing brands together.  Bruce made me laugh harder than anyone from college onward.  He could find the light through any tough situation, and he was bright as anyone.  He helped design America’s Cup yachts, and then started a new career in deep undersea exploration where he engineered equipment that holds a deepest solo dive record.  Life got in the way of catching up more regularly, which I greatly regret.  Bruce remains one of the more colorful, genuine and original people I have known.  Make the winds be strong on his quarter up above.  We are all better for having known and enjoyed his presence.”

Scott Kyle, 2-time Sunfish World Champion and Past USSCA President:

“I met Bruce in the 8th grade when he moved to Winnetka, IL from the East Coast.  We had a shared passion for sailing and athletics, and fast became best friends.  We were inseparable throughout high school, starting the New Trier Sailing Team together, training endlessly on land and water, and travelling the world competing in Sunfish and other sailing competitions.  Bruce was a great friend and competitor, possessing the rare dual quality of someone you wanted to hang out with on land, but respected and didn’t mind getting beat by on the water since his character was pure gold.  Bruce was always generous with his time and smile.  He was also one of the funniest people I ever met.  I still tell friends about his 1987 World Sunfish Champs awards speech.  I was so proud he accomplished our childhood dream of becoming a world champion, and prouder still to call him my friend.  He will be missed by many.”

Donnie Martinborough, 3-time Sunfish World Champion:

“Bruce was a special friend and I will always cherish the fond memories that I have of him.  What is really weird is I was just thinking of him and each of the other Sunfish World Champions and great sailors that I have met over the years and the moment’s in time each of us have been so fortunate to endure.  I will miss Him. Let’s keep Bruce’s family in our prayers and hope that he is now at peace and in a better place.  I truly feel blessed to have known him.”

Paul-Jon Patin, former Sunfish World Champion and Past ISCA President:

“I met Bruce at my first Worlds in 1987.  He was Scott Kyle’s training partner and was such a presence, an intellectual force in times Sunfish needed, a class act with an edge, a friend with great heart, and a champion who will be missed.”

Eduardo Cordero, Class Office Manager:

“I am deeply saddened as Bruce was one of my inspirations to become a Sunfish World Champion after watching the 1987 Aruba Worlds video when I was about 16.  Great guy on the race course and fun to hang out with.  I will surely miss him.”



Want to stay connected with the Sunfish Class? Join our mailing list and we'll periodically send out Class news and featured news articles.