A tribute to a true friend of the Etchells Class: Kenneth Strong Batzer (7/21/45 – 5/13/2018) was an avid sailor who was passionate about all aspects of the sport; from one design and offshore racing, to organizing regattas and trophy presentation.

He grew up sailing with his family in South Florida.  Shortly after college, he bought a Greenwich 24 which was the first of many of his boats called War Eagle; named after his alma mater Auburn.  In 1974, he caught the racing bug sailing in the SORC as a crew on the famous C&C 40 Red Jacket.  Ken then became active in racing sailboats while living in Newport Beach, California. In the late 70’s, he moved back to South Florida and joined the local Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club, where he later became Commodore.  After several years of racing the SORC, Key West Race and other offshore races during the early 80’s, Ken became more interested in one design racing (Santana 23, J24, E22), and teaching his young son Barr how to sail.  In 1986, he joined Biscayne Bay Yacht Club and actively raced his J24, Olson 30, Melges 24 and E22.  Ken was one of the Founders of Etchells Fleet 20 and one of the organizers of the popular Etchells Biscayne Bay Winter Series in the late 80s.  He served for twenty-nine consecutive years as the Regatta Chairman for that event. Ken’s sailing interests were widespread including active involvement in the resurgence of the SORC, serving as Chairman of the Lime Cup Race Committee, and being an active member of Storm Trysail. He was also involved in the Green Turtle Race, Pineapple Cup, Hospice Regatta, TP52 and Farr 40 events, Bacardi Cup Invitational’s J-70 Class and the Star Western Hemisphere Championship.  Later in life, Ken still enjoyed competing locally in radio controlled Laser racing with his son Barr.

In honor of Ken, the Etchells Fleet 20 has decided to name one of its Etchells which is designated for use by youth sailors, to be hereafter known as “Strong” which was Ken’s middle name. In lieu of flowers, Ken’s family has requested donations to the Etchells Youth Sailing Team to support their efforts to get young blood into the Etchells Class. Please make checks out to Oyster Bay Sailing Foundation, Inc. (Etchells Youth Team) and mail to: PO Box 720  Oyster Bay, NY  11771.

Ken was known as a kind person always willing to help no matter what type of boat you sailed or what race committee job you held. His passing has created a void in Miami’s racing community.

A memorial service will be held at 1 pm, Sunday, May 20th at The First Presbyterian Church of Pompano “The Pink Church” 2331 NE 26th Ave., Pompano Beach, FL.

Scuttlebutt article with photos