A pursuit race in memory of Rod Little, former RYA regional chair and commodore of Girton SC, is to be held by the club this summer to celebrate his life-long contribution to the sport.
Rod sadly passed away aged 87 just before Christmas and the club is hoping to make its annual Rod Little Pursuit Race an open event this year. Friends of Rod and sailors who knew him from across the region and beyond are invited to save the date of Sunday 1st August for the occasion.
Having started sailing in the mid 1970s with the Mirror dinghy boom, Rod built not one but three of these boats in his garage to involve his whole family in the sport – his wife and their four children Anthony, Roddy, Lindsey and Tracey - taking them all over the country to training events, opens and championships, a highlight being a podium finish at the East Midlands Ace of Clubs event in 1979.
Rod went on to sail Miracles, Enterprises and Kestrels, returning in recent years to Mirrors, which he sailed well into his 80s. A few short years after joining Hoveringham, now Girton SC, he became Commodore in 1979, and a member of the RYA East Midlands Committee a year earlier. His dedication was recognised with an RYA Volunteer Award in 2008.
As Commodore, he saw the need to increase membership and fronted the building of a new club house, trained to Senior Instructor level and encouraged the club to become an RYA Training Centre and later a Champion Club for youth and junior sailing. Rod’s many RYA regional committee roles included Technical Officer, Vice Chair and Chair.
Gareth Brookes, RYA Regional Development Officer Manager, said: “Rod was the Chair of the East Midlands when I started in post as a Regional Development Officer, and was active, enthusiastic and known to all across the region. He was of great support to me and I am ever forever grateful for his kind words and backing.”
Rod’s knowledge and expertise was pivotal in enabling Girton SC to buy the club from its landlords, while on the water his passion for the sport saw him introducing hundreds of youngsters to sailing through clubs, classes, youth clubs and the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.
Tony Bleasdale, Commodore of Girton SC, said Rod had been a guiding light for the club, bringing recognition as an RYA regional chair and literally helping to cast the foundations of the club house: “He helped train many of us with many of the skills we own today, personally in powerboat handling as well as sailing and club management law.
“He also worked tirelessly, hands on, assisting in the development of the breadth of water sport training opportunities. This can be especially appreciated in the legacy of grassroots assistance to disadvantaged individuals and groups, a mantle carried forward by his friends in the Tuesday Mirror sailing group he founded.
“In many of these achievements and efforts Rod was a team player, and he knew, better than most, how to get the best out of any team. A lot of that was due to the man himself; for many who knew him he was a warm, fascinating and generous person.”
Tony said when Rod was made President of Girton SC, the club’s sailing sub-committee had named a Pursuit Race in his name. He added: “We will honour Rod every year, in sailing at the pursuit race bearing his name, and in the 2021 season I will invite members past and present to join in sailing and remembrance at the Rod Little Pursuit event. We will also make it an open meeting so all those who knew Rod, far and wide, will feel welcome to attend or compete. Please put it in your memory calendar now, so we can make it a dinghy racing turnout he would be proud of.”
Entry forms and further details will be made available by Girton SC in due course. The event will be run in line with whatever Covid guidance is applicable at the time, with a modest entry fee and a meal raising funds to support a sailing charity chosen by Rod’s family.
Rod's funeral takes place on Monday 11 January at 13:30 and will be available online to watch live or afterwards for those who knew him. For further details contact the family here.