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EIGHT BELLS: John Biddle
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The Publisher
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Oct 1, 2008, 9:46 AM

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John Biddle

1925-2008


(October 1, 2008) The sailing world lost a pioneer journalist today. John Biddle was an internationally recognized filmmaker and lecturer who passed away in his sleep this morning. The cause of death was from cancer.

From 1956 through 1997, John Biddle, 82, dazzled over 3,000 audiences with his beautiful show films and informative, witty narration. During this period, Biddle filmed ten Americas’ Cup Race events (1958-1987).

Among the thousands of images he captured, by being in the correct place at the precise moment, included:

· Gretel surging past Weatherly in 1962
· The fatal crash of a press helicopter
· Baron Bich taking the helm of his challenger
· President’s Eisenhower and Kennedy watching the Cup races in person
· Alan Bond unveiling his secret winged keel of Australia II
· Exclusive footage shot onboard 12 meters with Ted Turner, Dennis Conner, Bus Mosbasher and Bill Ficker

In addition to the America’s Cup Races, John Biddle filmed many Bermuda Races, the Tall Ships including the infamous collision between four sailing ships in 1976. He was aboard the Christian Radich. His audiences ranged in size from 100 to over 3,000. For many sailors throughout the United States the only time they got to see the America’s Cup Races is when John Biddle came to present his films.

In the summer of 2007, he re-edited his America’s Cup films for the reunions of both the Courageous crew (1977) and the Intrepid crew (1967). Biddle’s experience and knowledge of sailing was a major asset in his presentations.

John Biddle graduated from Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut in 1950. He worked for over 40 years as a professional cinematographer and lecturer. His film archives is one of the most comprehensive and important yachting libraries in existence.

John Biddle was scheduled to be inducted into the Herreshoff Marine Museum America’s Cup Hall of Fame on October 23, 2008. The induction ceremony is being postponed until the Spring of 2009.


Gary Jobson




The Publisher
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Oct 2, 2008, 2:41 PM

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Re: [The Publisher] EIGHT BELLS: John Biddle [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

What a great man! When I first started sailing here in Dallas, TX way back in the mid 1960’s on a Flying Scot, one of the winter “highlights” was to go to the John Biddle show which was generally held during the dead of winter in either January or February. The annual event was “nominally” sponsored by the local United States Power Squadron/U.S.P.S. – but was instead almost totally underwritten by a couple of John’s great friends David Steere (the owner of the S&S 56’ ‘Yankee Girl’) and his brother Bruce Steere who generally handled the navigation duties onboard Yankee Girl. I had the great privilege of actually doing a partial S.O.R.C series on that great boat

We would all head over to McFarlin Auditorium on the SMU campus here in central Dallas and pay something like $3.00 for the show. I can guarantee you that they never even came close to covering John’s charges or the expenses of renting out a 5,000 person auditorium (hence the sponsorship by the Steere brothers) – but it was a very convenient venue. John (all some 6’5” of him if I remember right) would come out and in his very dry delivery announce the schedule for the night’s show which included a brief intermission half way through. His opening line was something like: “And away we go to……” – and the show was on!

Inevitably there were always a few classic examples of sailboats of all kinds being treated badly (wild broaches and the like – remember, this was back in the days of IOR) where John would make some “sly” comment about maybe easing a sheet here or maybe trimming a bit tighter here in his classic New England understatement way! His shows were my very first exposure to the mystery and grandeur of the America’s Cup and some of their earlier heroes in the 12 Meter days. I also saw racing in some of the more exotic racing venues in Europe and Australia/New Zealand that I have yet to see – but still hold out hope to do so.

He was a true pioneer in the sailing field, and probably inspired many of the current video-journalists that are continuing his great early work.

Fair winds John!

Respectfully submitted by Rick Tears




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