We have had the passing of a good friend and a great sailor. As some of you may know, Mark Fortier passed away this last month.
I first met Mark back in the mid to Late 70ís. At that time he raced on a J24 called Low Rider; he was foredeck. Mark Williams was the skipper. What made this team great is the Williams was paralyzed from the waist down. He would strap himself to the starboard side of the boat and away they would go.
One of my favorite memories of Mark is a Trans-Klam on Klamath Lake, OR. Mark was sailing with Ron Fish and I was sailing a San Juan 21. They had come down for the all night race. The wind had picked-up to about 18-20 knots with greater puffs. We had rounded Bear Island and were heading back downwind to Squaw point. They were sailing up fast from behind and barely under control. I told Ron to sail over me, as my crew would not put up the chute - price to pay for pickup crew. Ron and Mark sailed by quickly with everyone sitting in Ron's lap at the stern; my knot meter was pegged at 10 knots. As they went by I thought to myself that is a strange way to store the jib. Then I notice that it was not the jib, it was white water coming over the bow and splitting at the mast; they were driving the boat underwater. The boat slowed and they broached. The boat righted itself as their transom wave lifted the bow out of the water. Mark sheeted in and it was like the boat was shot out of a gun, and off they went never to be seen until the end of the race.
Mark, John and Terrie Ward, and myself were to ride on our motorcycles to the Roadie Fest 2012 at Florence Oregon. It was one of the things that Mark wanted to do one more time after he found out that he had only 3 months to a year left. But he was taken on Monday the 14th of May. We were to ride that Saturday. Let us all remember a Great sailor and friend and the good time that we had.
From Gordon Mattatall