Regarded marine artist, accomplished sailor and class leader in the Etchells fleet among others, Mike Till, 77, passed away at home on 10th October 2016 after a tough bout with bowel cancer. He passed away surrounded by his adoring wife Kathy and his children. Sailing and organizing sailing events were a key part of Mike’s life. He never let his illness slow him, whether it be sailing his XOD two weeks before, sailing with 360 other Finn at their World Championship in May, or working on a disabled sailing regatta.
A regular on the Etchells podium both nationally and internationally, Mike played key roles as Chairman of the British Etchells Association from 2003-2008, representing the British contingent as a Governor in the international governing body, and a number of important roles for the Cowes fleet. He organized 2007 World championships for the Class and pushed hard to build fleets on mainland Europe.
Mike started sailing Etchells in the late 80s, becoming Cowes Fleet Captain and helped rapidly expand the class ahead of the 1996, 2001 and 2007 World Championships based from Cowes and Lymington. He encouraged others to get out on the water by generously lending his boat. A late starter at sailing, he began in a Wayfarer sharpening his skills while raising two daughters, and progressed his way up the fleet. Always quick to help new sailors to each class he sailed, he was a welcoming figure for many to learn how to ply their boats faster, using the knowledge he accumulated. Prior to sailing, Mike was an accomplished cyclist – a sport he continued competitively for a long while – and a Kent county cross country runner.
A highly competitive Finn sailor as well, Mike was a regular fixture at the Finn Worlds, generally with a big grin on his face. Often sailing against his long-time nemesis Howard Sellars, they teamed up on boats together including in the Etchells and in the Quarter Tonners, where Mike and Howard led the fleets around the course with Mike more often than not on the bow well into his 60s.
Born to a tea plantation manager in Ceylon in 1939, Mike was no stranger to foreign travel or languages. His business career was in the insurance industry as a Lloyd’s broker which included later owning his own Lloyd’s broking company, Bradstock Haywood Till. His career led him to conduct business in many countries in Europe and the Middle East and was a major respected character in the London Insurance Market.
Early in his career, Mike spent some years working in Paris. Living in Paris together with his wife Kathy, he arrived with only a school boy level knowledge of the language. He quickly mastered French to become totally fluent, as he was also in Spanish and Italian. His skills helped the Etchells develop fleets in France, Italy and Ireland.
Mike will be missed around the world, by family, friends and sailors who knew and respected him.