Brian Cook (1965-2017) “Cookie”

Brian’s love of the sea started at an early age . He built a small canoe like craft which he would launch off the beach at Whitley Bay to potter on the sea.
However it was many years later that he got his real chance, a chance meeting with Adam “Addy” Macbride resulted in an invitation to go sailing.
At the same time “Addy” was also inviting one Norman Horsman to go sailing, the two of them hit it off and became great friends.

They sailed and raced with Adie for a few years before Brian decided to join a long list of members who were building their own yachts.  The result was a modified Folkboat which he named BERSERK; he raced and even cruised her to Norway with his young son Raymond on board.
Norman was his regular crew and when the pair decided that BERSERK was a little too small the search was on for a replacement.  As luck would have it a Fastnet Class winner had been abandoned after a fruitless entry into the Observer Single Handed Transatlantic Race. The Yacht was the famous ZEEVALK a Van der Stadt hard Chine boat with Fin and skeg configuration and built in Marine Ply by her owner Brunzeel.
She was in some state but with the help of many friends she was launched and ready to race.  She won many regattas with a variety of crew but her biggest success was winning the Norway Race.
Bill Mackay a famous offshore sailor who took part in the race was so impressed with Brian’s navigational skills that he invited Brian to be his navigator for the Fastnet Race on board his Two Tonner BILLYCAN.  Brian relished in sailing with one of the finest offshore sailors.
Then came another turning point The Round Britain Race, Norman decided he didn’t want to do this and as it was a two handed race Brian had to find someone else. Luckily enough in the same club was John Harrison who quickly agreed to be Brian’s partner.
This was to prove one of his great adventures which he could dine out for years to come, which included after the race, sailing ZEEVALK back to Holland and going to Zandaam and meeting Van der Stadt himself.
However the next year racing at Roker Regatta there was an unfortunate incident when the mast broke and ZEEVALK had to limp home to Blyth, even with Brian’s great joinery skills it was decided that a new mast would have to be ordered.
The new Mast in aluminium was a lot heavier than the old wooden one and the pair agreed the she was not the boat that they loved and hated and that she must be sold.
But that was never going to be the end of the story for Brian along came a Dragon called PUFF a Bolero called DOUBLE TROUBLE and a Six Metre THISTLE.
Brian took her to the Six Metre Worlds, hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes, representing the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club and with crew of Richard Bailey, James Swanson and Gordon Fothergill .They did such a fantastic job and impressed everyone with their handling of the yacht that they were invited to New York.  Brian declined the invitation gracefully and promptly sold THISTLE and retired back to the North East.
His next acquisition was CRYSTALL SEA a Miller Fifie, a retired fishing boat, again Brian’s skills and his friends, especially Arthur Hancock skills, were pushed to their limits.
Not only did they make beautiful wooden masts , a huge wheelhouse saloon and a complete restoration they managed to cruise the Western Isles with friends and family, become a mother ship at regattas and a support vessel for the Tall Ships Race, no mean feat.
But eventually CRYSTALL SEA was sold and the final adventure began.
G.R.P. was decided upon and a Power craft was envisaged and with a new partner Richard Bailey RHUM RUNNER was purchased.
I have to say that this is only the briefest synopsis of Brian’s life.  He was a character, a great advert for the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club; he always made everyone welcome and would never see a stranger stand alone.
He did a lot for this yacht club, which he loved and was very proud of the fact he became a flag officer but above all anyone who has sailed with him will tell you he was a great sailor.
We have been lucky to have had him as a member.

George Parnaby