Ontario Sailing expresses it’s sincere condolences to the Phelan family! Fair winds and following seas, Paul! You will be missed!
Obituary published in the Globe & Mail powered by Legacy:
It is with great sadness the family announces the passing of Paul D. Phelan, 70, on May 20, 2021. P.D. passed peacefully in the early morning, surrounded by his children in the family home of over thirty years, just a few blocks from where his parents, Paul J Phelan and Helen Gardiner Phelan, raised him. A truly original character, colorful story-teller, loving father, fireworks enthusiast, devoted sailor, and perennial life of the party, Paul will be leaving a big hole in the lives of those who loved him: His daughters Jennen, Jamie, and Hayley, his son Paul, the mother to his children and dear friend Rundi, his sons and daughter in law James, Amit and Ailey, grandchildren Romeo, Odin, Ava, and Lucia, and longtime friends and confidantes Ian Patten and Stephen Kelley. He will be met in heaven by his beloved daughter, Paula Dawn, who predeceased him.
P.D. accomplished many things in his life. He was a world-class Finn sailor, successful businessman, tireless champion of Canadian sailing, father of five, and, by his tongue-in-cheek telling, the first individual to use a personal computer. In his later years, Paul worked on a book, The Water’s Edge, which explored his theory that human migration and dispersal occurred mainly through seafaring. “This is my way of giving back to the sea, which had given so much to me,” he wrote, crediting his father for introducing him at an early age to the sport which he would remain passionate about for the rest of his life. Paul dedicated much of his years to passing on this great love of sailing: Through his creation of Wind Athletes Canada, he mentored countless young sailors and provided coaching, equipment, funding, and enthusiastic encouragement to the National Sailing Team. In 2011, the Canadian Yachting Association (Sail Canada) awarded him the prestigious Rolex Sailor of the Year award in recognition of his vital contribution, unique achievements and unforgettable presence around the docks and slips in marinas across the country. Describing the time he spent living alone on a sailboat (on which he asserted he had more computing power onboard than the Apollo 11 mission to the moon) he wrote: “On some evenings, the darkness of the water merged with the darkness of space, providing me with a spiritual experience that is still hard to describe.”
We know he’s out there now, sailing through that inky expanse, finally at peace. The family thanks Karen Henderson, ‘super girl’, and the staff at the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital for their compassionate care of Paul in the last year of his life. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the funeral service will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Wind Athletes Canada: https://www.windathletes.ca/donate