If you sought a multi-faceted example of contemporary Galway and the way the city and its surrounding area interact both with the sea and the most modern research industries, then the late Henry Lupton would be an eloquent example. He has been taken far too young from among his many sailing and other friends at the age of just 52 after a long and gallant battle with cancer, and Galway and Ireland is much the poorer for his passing.
His first interest in boats was in rowing, and at NUI Galway he was a very successful captain of the rowing club, while his personal achievements were such that he was the Galway Sports Star of the Year in 1987. And although his interest in sailing gradually took over as he built his pioneering medical and surgical business with Bribant, he continued as a mentor to rising rowing stars, and played a key role in Gavan Hennigan’s solo Transatlantic rowing achievement, completed on February 1st 2017.
But Henry’s interest in helping others get afloat whatever their particular interest went much further than this, and he and Marina (nee Furey), his wife of 26 years, were in the forefront of the very active branch of Accessible Sailing in Galway.
However, it was through his personal joy in sailing and boats that he became most involved with others, and he owned a selection of interesting craft at Galway Bay Sailing Club, starting with the GK 29 Young Nick, and then developing his sailing interests further with a Formula 28 called Starlet, followed by the First 31.7 Quelle Surprise which he campaigned in the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race.
Then when his rapidly growing research, development and manufacturing company was taken over by a large conglomerate, he and Marina fulfilled the voyaging dream with the First 40.7 Beoga and an Atlantic circuit cruise, starting with involvement in the ARC. Many Galway sailors had their first taste of the true ocean sailing experience through the generous hospitality of Henry and Marina on this extensively-used craft.
Yet the Lupton interest was not limited to one boat, and a particular pleasure for them was their additional ownership of a 1720, which they used for club racing and major 1720 events. They sailed long distances to some of these championships despite the fact that the 1720 had not been designed with offshore passages in mind. But the Luptons were more than game for it, and it was a matter of special pride that their 1720 Class Apart was the first one ever built.
Throughout all this, Henry continued as a source of warm encouragement and useful information for other owners at every boat size level and experience range – the GBSC forum reveals fond memories of a man of wisdom and inspiring example. He would encourage others not to dream of the unattainable, but rather to “sail the boat you have”, and in his final years he re-ignited his enjoyment of club-based round-the-cans and WIORA racing with a share in another Formula 28, RhocStar.
As for his cruising interests, where others might have seen a weekend of poor sailing weather developing, Henry and Marina always felt sure that it would relent at some time or other. Almost invariably, when that flash of unexpected sunshine came through on the Sunday afternoon, it would illuminate the spinnaker of their last cruiser, an Ovni 485 - also called Beoga - breezing back up Galway Bay, having succeeded in getting to the Aran Islands for the weekend against all the odds, and now returning with glorious sailing in a fair wind. That is how Henry Lupton will be remembered, and our heartfelt condolences are with Marina and their many friends and shipmates.