Bill Ficker, who skippered Intrepid to victory in the America's Cup in 1970, has died at the age of 89

Tributes have been paid to Bill Ficker, who passed away last week at the age of 89.

Ficker is best remembered for skippering the 12-metre class yacht Intrepid to victory in the 21st America’s Cup in 1970.

According to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, his defence against Sir Frank Packer’s challenger Gretel II is considered by many sailing experts to be “a watershed in the post-war history of the Cup”.

Ficker beat the Australia/Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron by 4-1, despite Gretel II being the faster yacht in the conditions.

Intrepid was skippered by Bill Ficker to win the 1970 America's Cup

Intrepid, which won the 1967 and 1970 America’s Cup. Credit: Aaron Doucett/Wikimedia Commons

The racing was intense, with Gretel II smashing into Intrepid’s port side during the third race – making it one of the most controversial races in America’s Cup history.

Ficker first started sailing in the mid-1930s during family holidays to Newport Beach.

He was chosen to skipper Intrepid by the New York Yacht Club after he served as tactician and co-helmsman on Columbia in the 1967 America’s Cup trials

In addition to his America’s Cup success, Ficker won the 1958 Star World Championships together with Mark Yorston and finished third in the 1959 edition.

Find out about the America’s Cup 2017

The former Newport Beach architect was also a winner of the Congressional Cup in 1974.

Ficker was inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame and US Sailing’s Hall of Fame in 1993.

“RIP Bill, you were truly one of the greats,” posted the America’s Cup on its website.

To honour Bill Ficker, the Long Beach Yacht Club established the Ficker Cup Match Race, a World Tour WS grade 2 qualifier event for Congressional Cup.

Bill Ficker died on 13 March 2017.