Obituary: Roger Aubin, pillar of yacht club, taught young to sail

The Victoria sailing community is mourning the death of a longtime member of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, who spent years teaching people the art of sailing on his boat, Annie.

Roger Aubin died May 26 of a heart attack at the age of 53, leaving wife Marilyn and daughter Charlotte.

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Marilyn called all the kind words that have been passed along to her since Roger’s death “amazing,” adding, “But he was an amazing man.”

She said Roger was an educator throughout his life, by profession as well as through his volunteer sailing instructor work. “Most of his career was tutoring or adult education,” she said. “He was always involved in education to some facet.”

Al van Akker, now a serious sail racer, said Aubin took him on a sail in the early 2000s when he was new to the sport.

He said he had stopped by the yacht club to show it to his out-of-town girlfriend.

“We went down to the yacht club and encountered Roger, who introduced himself and said: ‘Would you like to go for a sail?’ ”

Van Akker said Aubin was legendary for such friendly gestures.

“He had a little log book that he had on the boat, and so when you went for a sail with him, he would ask you to put your name in the book.”

Randy Diamond, immediate past commodore of the yacht club, said Aubin took “literally thousands” of people out on Annie.

“If you had an interest, he was happy to have you on board,” Diamond said.

“He was a very extroverted personality, outgoing and [he] engaged people.”

As well as being passionate about sailing and “just a tremendously friendly, open, enthusiastic kind of guy,” Aubin was a pillar of the yacht club, van Akker said.

“It was hard to be around without knowing who Roger was.”

He said Aubin would often take part in races with a crew of people new to sailing.

“You would regularly hear Roger’s voice providing clear direction to his crew at fairly high volume.”

Van Akker said Aubin augmented his sailing lessons with a learn-to-sail DVD he had put together and would often hand out.

His aim was to do whatever he could so people “could get on the water and have some success,” van Akker said.

Tributes to Aubin have been growing on a memorial page compiled by Earth’s Option Cremation and Burial Services.

One contributor said Aubin taught lasting lessons about living every day to the fullest, caring for one another and letting people know they are appreciated.

“Those are lessons I will take with me forever, thanks to Roger.”

A celebration of his life is scheduled for 2 p.m. June 16 at the yacht club.

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