Graham Bush, known as Gray to his family and many friends, died in Southampton General Hospital on Friday 21st November 2008 after an 18 month fight against cancer. Gray had been a member of Victoria Nyanza Sailing Club (VNSC) in Kampala, Uganda from 1986 to 1993 and had been given honorary life membership for his service to the club.
To describe Gray as a sailor and sportsman would be like calling Mohammed Ali “a boxer”! As a sailor, Gray had his equals, but as a sportsman he was ahead of the rest. A typical example of his sportsmanship was when he came first in one of the races, in his late 60s, in the Naivasha Laser Open. After crossing the finish line minutes ahead of the rest of the fleet, he realized that he had forgotten to put on his buoyancy aid, a racing requirement. With his windproof jacket over his life jacket nobody would have guessed he had not worn his buoyancy aid, but of course, he immediately retired. His sportsmanship was as evident in such great moments as it was in every decision he made on the water where he sailed fairly, always gracious in his competitiveness, never taking unnecessary advantage over less experienced sailors and quick to offer encouragement, advice and praise.
As a member of VNSC, he served on the committee throughout as sailing secretary, vice commodore and commodore and was instrumental, along with John Wyles, for bringing the club out of the Amin/Obote recession up to its current membership. Gray devoted a lot of his time to helping sailors improve, not only in their sailing ability, but also through improving their gear and rigging, particularly for the 505s and Fireballs, both at VNSC and Entebbe Sailing Club.
Throughout his thirty year sailing life in East Africa, Gray was one of the best Fireball helms, if not the best. Whilst many good helms would find a 90 kg crew that would optimize their chance of winning, Gray sailed with his very much lighter wife, Carol, and together they were a formidable team. Gray also sailed in several East African events with each of his four children; Charlie, Sarah, Harriet and Alistair, as crew, as well as competing in the UK Fireball Nationals. However, at Kaazi, Gray and Carol, who could have won most of the events as a Fireball team, sailed mostly in Lasers. This not only gave Gray more boat to boat competition, but also raised the standard of the Laser fleet considerably.
After returning to UK nearly three years ago he continued his sailing activities with son Charlie in yachts, similar to those that he had competed on in the Fastnet race earlier in his life. Gray was in Cornwall in August this year during the Fireball Nationals where had been instrumental in organising the event and encouraged sailors to attend by giving a presentation to the UK Fireball fleet in advance of the event about the thrills of sailing off the East African coast.
Gray was always ready to help those in need, not only on the water, but in all aspects of life. He has a keen wit, a remarkable memory for numbers especially if they were on a sail, a strong sense of fairness and a gentlemanly approach to all with whom he came into contact. He was the last to complain of an unlucky wind shift and would be the last to complain that his life has been brought to an untimely end. Instead he would be thankful for the full and happy life that he had.