October 30, 2018

Vale Kim Thomas (KT)

To all Hobie Sailors and friends.

Kim Thomas IHCA Life Member, Australian Hobie Class Life Member and New South Wales Hobie Class Life Member passed away today at noon in Thailand.

In 1972 I bought my first Hobie 14. I wandered into the factory in Brookvale and met owners Malcolm McCartney and Denny Keogh.
They soon introduced me to Kim Dexter Thomas, affectionally known as KT. He came from Kempsey, Northern NSW, a country boy.
We were to become life long friends. Building boats was a significant life change for KT as he started life as an Air Traffic Controller.
KT worked for Hobie Cat Australia under the ownership of Malcolm and Denny and then for new owners Hobie Cat NZL, then for Ian Bashford, then more new owners Hobie Cat Co USA.
At various times HCC owned Hobie Cat Australia. KT built the boats for Hobie 16 Worlds in Airlie Beach 1988.
He also worked in USA for Hobie Cat Co and in France for John Dinsdale at Hobie Cat Europe.
After his last job with Hobie Cat Europe (John Dinsdale), KT started building various large Catamarans in Ko Samui in Thailand.
His boat building skills were always much in demand.
John Dinsdale told me on a couple of weeks ago that while KT lived with his family he taught John’s son Andy to speak English.
In his time KT was a prolific reader and an excellent commentator on USA politics.

During his various stints building Hobies he also sailed Hobies in Australia, New Zealand, PNG, Europe, parts of Asia and parts of USA.
We sailed against each other over many years and in different parts of the World. One National Championship in New Zealand stands out. At lunch time on the last day three of us were leading the event but not sure who was actually in front. The wind had built to 65 knots. KT suggested we call it a series. The Kiwi guy and I quickly agreed. Of all people, my tough guy mate believed sailors and race management had done enough. He was probably the only one fit and strong enough to go out again. Well done KT.
He normally skippperd his own boats but he crewed with me on my Hobie 16 at World Masters Games in Sydney just a few years back.
KT also worked as a volunteer for Hobie events in Dubai, Philippines, USA, Europe and many events in Thailand. He was the best Race Officer that I ever worked with, who hadn’t bothered to get official ISAF (World Sailing) qualifications. “Cant handle the bullshit”, he said
He was also a National Judge and we worked many events together in that role. He was fair minded and practical.
KT was a bit of a drinker and socialiser. He was a really tough guy and a fatalist.
He enjoyed the lifestyle so much in Thailand that he settled there. Early in 2017 I stayed overnight in his large rented two bedroom house in a small quite Thai village.
Next morning when I asked for a bath towel, he lent me his only one. We shared it. That was KT.
His vision was fading and I did the night driving in his MG. For the past few years he struggled with a worsening limp. He never saw the point of going to Doctors
I last saw KT in Sydney when he stayed with Nancy and me at our home in Sydney late in 2017. Our house was his home away from home.
KT was due to arrive at our place on Tuesday morning 26th June and stay for a few days to sort Passport, Pension and Bank.
We spoke a few times by phone and text a few times during proceeding few months. Then having heard nothing for a week I called him and he had just returned from a week in hospital and was cancelling his trip. A disappointment all round.
Then I visited him during his palitative care stage in Ko Samui Thailand in August. He was confined to bed but it was a wonderful experience for us both.
Recently Nancy was in hospital for 7 weeks recovering from a foot reconstruction. During that time three weeks ago we managed a wonderful video call, with KT and Nancy both in hospital beds.
He wasn’t making much sense but he clearly loved seeing Nancy. Sadly that was the last time we spoke.

For years Kim was vague about what was wrong medically but previously quite clear about how he wanted his affairs handled.
The hospital doctors stated that Kim was suffering:
Arrhythmia, Atrial fibriltation
Chronic obsrtuctive pulmonary disease
Chronic kidney disease, Renal failure Stage 5 (end stage)
He never complained and, although he was reluctant to admit it, knew he was near his end.
I flew to Ko Samui in Thailand to see him while he was in palitative care. He was being cared for by a husband and wife for whom he buit a large catamaran 15 years ago. They lived 100 meters away and they hired two full time lady carers to live in and cater to his every need. David and Tracy Morland cooked many small meals for him each day and spoon fed him. A wonderful couple.
They took him on a number of occasions to Doctors and Hospitals. They loved KT as many of us did. I stayed in their home while visiting KT and witnessed the level of care, attention and affection that they heaped on KT. They were with him in hospital as he passed away. An amazing couple. Thank you David and Tracey.

Attached is the latest photo of KT in good times in Ko Samui Regatta 2015 with David Brookes and me.

Kim Thomas…Born 7th December 1952, Died 30 October 2018

Mark Pryke