#elmo – Irish sailing is mourning the loss of leading small boat sailor Graham 'Elmo' Elmes (39) of Dun Laoghaire who died tragically at the weekend. His funeral took place this morning. Warm tributes to the talented sailor are being paid from across the waterfront of his home port and beyond. See below from Anthony Shanks, John Sheehy and more sailors below.
Graham, a popular member of Dun Laoghaire's Royal St. George Yacht Club, was a champion in a number of Irish dinghy classes and also a driving force in the development of Irish sailing, where he will be sorely missed.
Graham is survived by his father and mother Frank and Marie, brother Robert and sisters Kathy and Mia.
Most recently Graham competed at one of his favourite events, the long running DMYC Frostbite series in Dun Laoghaire, only narrowly missing out on the overall Laser division title.
A software engineer by profession, 'Elmo', started sailing aged 14, first competing in the Mirror dinghy junior national championships in Howth in 1989. Six years later, he went on to finish third overall at the Mirror Worlds in Wales and fifth at the Team Racing Worlds in Newport 2005.
An avid dinghy helmsman or crew he was equally at home as a race officer or coach, last season working as a coach and mentor to the Irish Mirror Worlds team on Lough Derg.
He took his competitive sailing seriously and was a top performer on the national and international stage in the Olympic 470 dinghy, SB20s, Dragons, Etchells, GP14s, Fireflies and many other classes. He was also a driving force on the varsity and team racing circuits where he regularly coached college teams including his old alma mater, Dublin University Sailing Club (Trinity).
Elmo was a passionate advocate for sailing and consistently argued that more should be done to attract new blood into the sport of dinghy sailing in Ireland. He believed there should be a move away from the current preoccupation with high performance Olympic sailing. 'We need more kids sailing for fun' he commented on this website in a number of thoughtful contributions on the question of the future of Irish dinghy sailing.
A great man of our sport
Elmo, where do I start, there are many who have known him longer than me, but during the times that we spent together racing the Dragon with Andrew Craig I would have to say they were amongst the greatest of days. I first raced with him in 1999 when we won the first event we did, the dragon east coast championships. This was the beginning of a fantastic team which collected many regional championships a national championships and a European Silver medal.
This was only part of the man I knew, with a wit he would keep Andrew and myself from mistakes that could end regattas and his enduring line was 'we are near 90 percent lets tack'. It didn't matter what the conditions he reveled in them, that must have been the mirror sailing... As a tactician he had few equals as a baby sitter he was questionable. We were offered tickets to watch Chelsea and Man United at Old Trafford, Graham climbed into the back of the car with the children and then proceeded to teach them all the bad jokes, then on the ferry he set about schooling them in cards. A trip to the snow dome then to the curry mile was followed the next day by an experience to remember in a box, we were all like children.
Moving to the country took us away from all of my sailing friends yet Graham was a great visitor always chasing the children around the mill pond and latterly with his little dog Jimmy who took no notice of anything he was told to do.... RA Shanks