Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tribute to Walter Fischer- Long-time J/24 Sailor and Rolex CEO

St Thomas Yacht Club during Rolex Cup- green J/24 in front* The sailing world lost a great friend the night of June 13. Surrounded by his family, long-time J/24 sailor Walter Fischer passed away peacefully in his sleep after a 2 year battle with cancer.  Walter joined luxury retailer Little Switzerland in St Thomas in 1961. Starting as a watchmaker, he rose to become President and CEO. In 1989, he joined Rolex as head of sales for the Caribbean and Latin America. In 1999, he was named President and CEO of Rolex Watch USA. While in St Thomas, Walter was responsible for the creation of the International Rolex Regatta in 1972. It has long been known as the "Jewel of the Caribbean." in the early 80s, Walter and a group of friends brought the first J/24 to the Caribbean. He also served as the head of the Race Committee and Commodore of St.Thomas YC. Walter sailed all kinds of boats from steering his famous J/24 called STING to grinding winches on a maxi.

J/24s saling off St Thomas- the beloved fleet Walter Fischer startedAs President of Rolex US, Walter expanded the company's relationship with the New York YC, of which he was a proud member; many aspects of US SAILING, including sailors with disabilities; Storm Trysail Club's Block Island Race Week and Collegiate Regatta; the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta; and the Rolex Big Boat Series at St. Thomas YC. Perhaps Walter's greatest joy was watching his 8 year old granddaughter, Caroline, sail her Opti off the beach at the St. Thomas YC.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions be made to the St. Thomas YC Junior Sailing program. Donations should be made out to the St. Thomas YC, with the notation "Walter Fischer Junior Sailing Fund" and mailed to Bill Canfield, St. Thomas YC, 8-58, 6624 Estate Nazareth, St. Thomas, USVI 00802.

Sleep well, Walter. Your many friends miss you already. Our hearts go out to Walter's wife Jill, son Greg, daughter Stefanie and his four grandchildren.