Well-known Cowes author, broadcaster, sail-or and boatbuilder, Steve Sleight, has died aged 64, after a long illness
Steve Sleight was an author, broadcaster, sailor and boat builder with an infectious enthusiasm and a passion for the very latest “bleeding edge” technologies, writes Rupert Holmes.
After a degree in economics and sociology he became a yachtmaster instructor and coach at the National Sailing Centre, based on the site that’s now UKSA in Cowes. He then wrote the best-selling Handbook of Sailing, which he swiftly followed with a further a further five titles, as well as producing ITV’s The Boat Show series.
He left the National Sailing Centre to work as a producer and sponsorship consultant to Worldwide Television News, before focusing on the sponsorship field for more than a decade, working with clients including Federal Express, VISA, Nissan Europe and America’s Cup challenger Peter de Savary.
He returned to Cowes in the late 1990s to write four more books for Dorling Kindersley, including The New Complete Sailing Manual, a title that has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and has been translated into numerous languages. He also wrote Information Technology, Moving to E-business, and the KISS Guide to Sailing at this time, before taking the helm of the monthly marine title All at Sea.
Steve’s next venture is the one for which he will doubtless be best remembered by many, thanks to the constant stream of sailing news and the countless video reports of racing taking place in Cowes and the Solent area he produced with his late partner, Sara Coombes. At the time Cowes Online was one of the world’s most visited boating websites, despite the narrow geographical coverage, and the big Cowes TV RIB was a familiar sight around the Solent.
Steve was immensely proud of Cowes and its heritage. He tried wherever possible aimed to commission work for his various enterprises from the hugely varied talent to be found in the town, making many lasting friendships in the process. He was an avid and accomplished sailor, gaining at least one national championship title. In later years he focused his enthusiasm on boat building, correctly identifying Nick Skeates’ 35ft steel Wylo ll gaff cutter as one that would find appeal as a production built boat.
Such a traditional and rugged design might appear a surprising choice for an innovator who had for so long worked with the very latest technology. However, the Wylo is ideally suited for its purpose as a strong, low maintenance long-distance voyager and a buyer was soon found for the first boat. Sadly the venture was curtailed by Steve’s cancer diagnosis, but he continued to write, completing the fourth edition of The New Complete Sailing Manual, which will be published in June 2017.
About the author
Rupert Holmes is a yachting journalist, editor and media consultant, who knew Steve both through work and as a friend.
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