David Cook >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News

The Canadian Paralympic community lost one of its longtime champions and ambassadors with the passing of David Cook of Victoria on January 14, 2022. He was 62 years old.

Cook teamed with John McRoberts, Kirk Westergaard and Kenneth Kelly to win the mixed crew silver medal at the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta. Sailing at these Games was a demonstration sport and would become official in 2000.

“He was a mentor and an inspiration who loved sailing,” fellow Paralympian Stacie Louttit of Victoria told The Times-Colonist of Cook. Louttit won a bronze medal in the two-man keelboat alongside McRoberts at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

“David was a smart sailor. He was a character. He was one of a kind. He was brave and daring.

At 17, Cook was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative neurological disease. However, that never stopped him from playing sports and at 19 he caught the sailing bug, which was to become the greatest passion of his life.

On his site davidcook.ca he wrote: “I first got the idea when I was 19 from a couple of colleagues who were young but seasoned sailors. One of them had sailed around Vancouver Island with a friend on a tiny 18-foot keelboat. After hearing their stories, I immediately started dreaming of sailing and soon bought my own boat. I wanted to create my own memories for life.

He retired from competitive sailing in 1997 at the age of 38. In 2008, he entered the competition of radio-controlled model sailboats and became one of the most prominent model designers and builders.

Cook, who is survived by his wife Raewyn, was also the founder of the Victoria Sailing Foundation, which helped young people and people with disabilities build their confidence through sailing.

At the time of his death, Cook was working on a book about his life, sharing his “life challenges, solutions and lessons learned”, most of which he had completed.

A celebration of life will take place this summer at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club.

Source: Canadian Paralympic Committee

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