Industry mourns longtime Bermuda sailracer

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Sailor David Ashton died Nov. 21 after suffering complications from surgery in a Boston hospital. He was 62.

A veteran of multiple Newport Bermuda Races, including the 2012 race aboard the Spirit of Bermuda, Ashton was also co-founder of the local J-24 yacht class and represented Bermuda at the J-24 World Championships in the United States.

In the 1970s Ashton owned a boat rental company and operated a performance keelboat sailing school, using J-24s as the design of choice. More recently he was a member of the International One Design Class of Bermuda and owner of the International One Design sloop Slingshot, according to an obituary in The Royal Gazette.

“We are all very devastated by this tragic loss of such a young member of our fleet and such a good guy,” International One Design class executive Sacha Simmons said. “He’s a great guy and was always very supportive.

“Even though he hasn’t been able to do a lot of sailing the last three years because of health issues, he was still as supportive as he could be. He loaned his boat for the Argo Group Gold Cup and Bermuda International Invitational Race Week and was just a great supportive, along with his wife, Cindy.

Paul Doughty, a former business partner with Ashton, described him as a “reckoning force” in competitive sailing.

“He was a very good racing sailor because obviously he earned the right to go to the J-24 World Championships,” Doughty said. “Usually when he skippered a boat he was fiery, and we used to have a saying — ‘Which one is it today? Is it Sugar Bear or is it Grumpy Bear?’ — because he was very bear-like. David is a great loss to the local community and was always a supporter of any sailing event. My condolences go out to his family.”