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Sailing journalist Pittman dies at 82

Knowles Pittman, founder of One-Design Yachtsman magazine, died April 28, in his hometown of Ipswich, Mass., due to heart failure. He was 82.

“I was very much saddened when I heard that he had passed away,” says noted sailor and boat designer Bruce Kirby. “He was a great guy and great friend.”

Pittman started One-Design Yachtsman, now called Sailing World magazine, in 1962 and marketed it toward the small-boat sailors of the Midwest and Southern California.

“The magazine spoke directly to the racing sailor, which it still does today,” Kirby says. “It was the only magazine back then that was solely about racing small boats.”

According to his obituary, Pittman served in the Navy during World War II aboard the carrier USS Bonhomme Richard, and was a reporter and editor of the Galena Gazette in Illinois before starting One-Design. Kirby, who served as editor of One-Design for nearly 10 years, says Pittman was known for his knowledge of sailing and his gentle spirit.

“He knew a great deal about journalism and sailing. He was a leader of men but in a quiet sort of way,” Kirby says. “He was an easygoing, bright guy and a good person to work with.”

Chris Caswell, a former West Coast editor of One-Design, also enjoyed working with Pittman. He wrote a passage about Pittman’s death on Scuttlebutt, an online digest for the sailing community.

“We were all young and passionate about dinghy racing and we did stories that still stand as examples of great writing. But it was ‘Knowlesy’ who kept us on course with a wry smile when we needed nudging and always a broad grin and hearty laughter when we got it just right,” he says.

Pittman is survived by his wife, Patience Wales (former editor and current contributing editor of Sail magazine); daughters Ann, Carrie and Lucia; and four grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son, Freeman.

“[Pittman] had a bigger impact on this industry than I think he ever realized,” Kirby says. “He’ll be missed.”