Passing: World-Famous Sailor Served on Delta Board

Harry C. “Buddy” Melges Jr., known around the globe as an iconic sailboat racer, died on May 18. He was 93 years old.

Buddy Melges Jr., far right, entertains a crowd at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports Show.

A native of Elkhorn, Wisconsin, Melges rose to prominence in the sailing world during the 1950s by winning prestigious racing titles both on the water and ice. He won the North American Men’s Sailing Championships in 1959, 1960, and 1961, and added Olympic medals in 1964 and 1972. His racing career reached a pinnacle in 1992, when Melges was at the helm of America3 as the crew raced to victory in the America’s Cup. He was inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Inland Lake Yachting Association Hall of Fame in 2002.

When he wasn’t racing boats, Melges found great joy in hunting ducks—particularly at his cabin on Lake of the Woods in Nestor Falls, Ontario. An ardent outdoorsman and conservationist, Melges proudly served on the Delta Waterfowl Board of Directors from 1980 to 1995, during which he chaired the Delta Marsh Rehabilitation Committee.

Melges continued to support Delta’s conservation programs throughout his life. He was a Silver Lifetime Member and a member of Delta’s Honorary Board of Directors.

“Buddy loved duck hunting, and he spoke with pride about his involvement with Delta Waterfowl,” said Todd Burns, vice president of major gifts. “He was a strong public advocate for conservation, and all of us at Delta greatly appreciate his legacy of contributions to advance waterfowl conservation programs. He will be missed.” — Paul Wait