Derek Hatfield set out on his second global sailing race in 2008 (above), but was forced to pull out when a large wave broke two of the mast spreaders on his boat. Hatfield's wife confirmed Monday that her husband had died suddenly at the age of 63.  We see a handsome man with short, greying hair and a greying moustache dressed in a black coat. He squints at the camera as he holds a section of mast with his left hand.

Derek Hatfield set out on his second global sailing race in 2008 (above), but was forced to pull out when a large wave broke two of the mast spreaders on his boat. Hatfield's wife confirmed Monday that her husband had died suddenly at the age of 63.
Photo Credit: AP Photo / Jacques Brinon

Sailing legend Derek Hatfield dies suddenly at 63


Derek Hatfield, a sailing legend who cast fear to the wind to become the first Canadian to complete two solo around-the-world voyages, has died suddenly at 63.

In 2002-2003, Hatfield, a former RCMP officer, became the 126th person to complete the Around Alone around-the-world sailing race on his own.

Piloting the “Spirit of Canada,” a 12-metre sailboat he built with friends and family, Hatfield sailed 28,700 nautical miles in nine months in completing the voyage.

He accomplished the same feat in 2010-2011.

In both races he placed third in his class.

In an interview with the CBC prior to his 2010 attempt, Hatfield explained how he did it.

“You have to feel so secure in what you are doing on the boat all the time that you really don’t feel that you’re at risk just because you are a thousand miles from land,” he said.

“If there was any fear at all of the ocean or being alone, that fear would stop you from going and you would never leave the dock.”

In 2008, Hatfield was forced to pull out of an around-the-globe race when a large wave broke two of the mast spreaders on his boat.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Sail Nova Scotia called Hatfield “a true champion of offshore sailing at all levels and a tremendous ambassador for the sport.”

A friend and fellow sailor, Eric Holden, told The Canadian Press that Hatfield was an inspiration to “follow one’s dreams.”

Hatfield, a native of Newcastle, New Brunswick who spent much of his life in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia performed years of charitable work and earned a living as an entrepreneur and motivational speaker.

The cause of his death has not been disclosed.

With files from CBC and CP:

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One comment on “Sailing legend Derek Hatfield dies suddenly at 63
  1. John Macdonald says:

    In April of 2015 I had the privilege of sailing with Mr. Hatfield from Antigua to Lunenburg. The experience was nothing short of a life long dream come true. In order to fulfill such a dream I would only sail with someone I could trust with my life. Derek was that man.