Neil King

Neil King.

With great sadness I post to tell you all of the Loss of a big man, my good friend and shipmate Neil King. Sadly Neil left us over the new year after a  long struggle against depression and post traumatic stress disorder he found the peace he had been seeking.

Neil was one of those rare people who everybody remembers, truly once met never forgotten . A big man in every sense, open , gregarious , generous , compassionate and of course pretty outrageous at times. The man who sailed a Hawk 20 from Exmouth to the Arctic circle and then presented it to a group of Sea Scouts. Who lived  on the Hawk on a sand bank for months paddling out in his kayak, sometimes from the pub, often having spent the day teaching others to sail or supporting the Exe Sailability project. A zero to hero yachtmaster having undertaken a uk winter yachtmaster course on some rather clapped out yachts, dismasted, nearly been run down by a submarine when the lights failed, mid passage re rigging and repairing broken engines. He was brilliantly practical and certainly as far as sailing was concerned had a near vertical learning curve. A great asset and companion on any of the many boats he joined especially when the going got rough.

Neil King. Yachtsman, Norwegian lumberjack, Western Australian light house keeper, Swiss purveyor of fine scotch whiskey , in a kilt no less, landscape Gardner and drystone Waller, care worker the list goes on not much Neil has not done in a varied if a little chaotic life.   

Those of us who knew Neil a little better were aware of the demons he fought. It says much of the man that he gave so much to and for others despite his own trials and tribulations. Neil  gave us the gift of fun and friendship and many many wonderful memories, but mostly he gave us  joy, the joy of being around a man who exuded life and energy. A light has gone out of our world far to early but his presence will  stay with me and I suspect many many others long into the future.

Fair winds and following seas. Sail on our friend, Kings Global Adventures.




Mike Coleman

Thanks for posting this Rick. Really sad news.


Dale Lawson

Thank you for sharing this Rick, such sad news!


Tracey Hindmarsh

So very sad to hear this, he was truly a larger than life character and a heart of gold. Sailing with him from Svalbard to Norway will be fondly remembered. His tenacity, resilience and approach to situations can only have admiration.

Rick, you did everything you could for Neil to thrive, I hope you can have consolation from that, you were a great team. Your words are beautiful.


Jennifer Miller

Oh my gosh. I’m so sad to read this. Despite the demons he fought, I’m glad he followed his dream and had spent the last few years out on the water where hopefully, he could find some tranquility at times. I’ll always remember you Neil. With love and peace, Jen 🌹😘


Phil Pryor

I cant believe it. Such a loss. The world will be a less colourful place for his absence. It was a privilege to have known such a true legend and lovable maverick. We swapped some pretty cool stories. Fair winds shipmatey.


Tineke Dixon

It’s the loss of a great man, and a great friend…so many stories from his bonkers, exotic, and colourful life shared on passage and in pubs to remember. I will miss him deeply


Sam Woolner

Such sad news Rick, such a character and all round nice guy, he will be greatly missed!


Claire Sharp

Such a loss, fair Winds and calm seas Neil ⛵️

I will remember his smile sat on the stern of eXehibitionist always x


Annabel James

Such dreadfully sad news about our lovely friend. Instructing alongside Neil was always good fun and full of laughter, but he was so much more than that. A deeply reflective and sensitive man with a wealth of life experiences under his belt, he was al… See more

Allison Siveyer



Sue Frost

I’m so sorry to hear this. He was indeed an amazing man.


Dan Cooke

Very sad news Rick, he was a great character.


Tracey Hindmarsh

Rest in peace Neil


Ben Lowings

Such sad news. Rest in peace Neil


Ian Holder

Really sad to hear this, great eulogy Rick. I remember him day 1 RYA level 1, he learnt fast and was smitten by lunchtime!


Tom Dunstan

Very sad news. Just as you said Rick, I only met him once but I remember him vividly. He was preparing the Hawk for his Artic trip so must have been 6 or 7 years ago. It sounded like a crazy plan but from our brief conversation I had absolutely no doubt that he would do it.

Allison Siveyer


Amy Webber

Such sad news 😔 such an inspiration with fascinating stories to tell.


Kuba Szymanski

Oh Geeeeee. What a terrible news. Rick – thank you so much for letting us know. It must be very, very hard for you !!! It is for all of us who have known Neil.

R.I.P Neil – you must be sailing already ;(

Allison Siveyer


Sue Buzzard

So hard to believe. I didn’t know Neil well but will always remember the two trips I did with you Rick and Neil on Exehibitionist. I remember Neil as being great fun and as having a brilliant way of explaining things. I still use the way he taught me to tie a bowline which I couldn’t get my head round before!

Allison Siveyer


Rupert Holmes

Very sad news – as others have sad it’s hard to believe such a larger than life character is no longer with us. I will never forget how amazingly welcoming he was to all the 2019 AZAB competitors, or his inspirational voyages on boats of all types and the brilliant stories he told about them.


Johannes Scharf

Oh no, very sad news indeed. We will never forget you Neil, thanks for the short but intense period of time we could share with you! Fair winds and following seas! R.I.P.


Vicki Allen

Heartbroken by this news today. Our wonderful, crazy, generous friend, how I’m going to miss him and his outrageous stories and brilliant laugh. Rest well x

Sue Blick

Very very sad to hear this, such a great loss. Xx


Nick Solidaire

Lovely words Rick, a sad loss. 🥲


Amanda Turner

So sorry to hear this news- what you have written Rick, has paid an amazing tribute- I enjoyed sailing with you both on Exehibitionist. You are right – he has peace now and his living touch so many and that is what I shall remember when I think of those sails! 🙏


Allan Leach

An amazing tribute Rick. Only bumped in to Neil once as he was about to set off north with the Hawk. An extraordinary trip by an extraordinary man. R.I.P.


Henry Massey

Shocking news Rick. He was an amazinga man, a skilled sailor and an all round “good bloke’. He will be missed.


Shaun Griffits

Terrible News, thanks for sharing Rick. RIP Neil

Agi Malleike

It is with great sadness that I read this, but with loads of admiration and love that I remember the man! Neil you have conquered our hearts, when we meet on that small island on the west coast of Scotland 😊 the kids still talk about you and Simba 🐱😍 R.I.P.

Rick wonderful words,and thanks for sharing, big hugs!


Kate Cope

It’s so sad to hear the loss of such a fantastic guy. We had a great race to St Malo after Azab 2019…he shared plenty of inspirational stories.


Lesley Stacy-marks

Lovely words

Rick…Neil touched many: a light has gone out but I reckon there’s a huge big shiney star up there who will always sail with you ….


Becks Campbell

What a great loss! A Great spirit that will be sadly missed. Be at peace my freind. X


Oliver Richard Hooper

Hope the winds have taken you were you need to be Neil


Tony Wood

Very sad news. Sail on Neil.


Mel Sharp

Very sad. A true spirit. RIP. Sail on.


Sam Jacklin

So sad to hear the news, he was on hell of a character and always up for a laugh, RIP Neil


James Nicholson

Gosh, Rick I am so very sad and shocked to hear the news. Neil was an incredible man and I have many fond memories of him. I remember first meeting him volunteering with him on a safety boat for a junior champs at Exe SC around 5 years ago. Back then he was only recently returned to the world of boats and wanted to learn everything! – within months, the tables turned and he was teaching me things! He achieved more in his sailing career over a few busy years than many do in a lifetime. I remember following his Norway exploits while sat in the university library feeling inspired to choose a path less travelled and more adventurous. My only regret is that our paths did not cross more in recent years. He was a real gentleman, and always fun to be with afloat or ashore. I will remember him fondly and will try my best to ask “what would Neil do?” – it will make us better sailors, better fun and we will achieve far more if we take a little of his spark and carry it with us.

Reply Rick Newcombe

James Nicholson wow thank you James you have captured the man.

Allison Siveyer

Such beautiful beautiful words James x

Elizabeth Finney

Very sad news. Neil was a great character and a fun and knowledgable sailing companion. I only sailed with Neil once from Scotland to Ireland and down to Dublin on Exehibitionist, but will never forget it – we had so many laughs. RIP Neil, you will be much missed.

Thanks for letting us know Rick, big hugs!


Rachel Cox

So sad to hear this Rick. Sending much love to all who knew Neil xx


Eileen Wragg

Sincere condolences to all who knew Neil and all the good that he did and was still trying to do. As a Sailability supporter, I am well aware of the value of the work of such caring people involved, not just in the project, but in other areas of their lives. Thanks to them all for their unsung support and self-sacrifice. We realise the burdens that the mental health services are under, especially now, and have engaged a Mental Health Officer at EDDC who is due to start tomorrow. Please contact your local Councillor if you become aware of someone who might need support or help.


Steve Jacklin

Very sad news – a real character who will be missed RIP


Helen Warren

That’s such a sad loss Rick. I met Neil a few times and he was definitely a character you don’t forget. Given all the comments above from those who’s lives he touched it’s tragic to think he left this world maybe not realising how loved he was. RIP Neil and I hope he gets to conquer plenty more Kings Global Adventures in the next life.


Fiona Bolt

Very sad to hear this. I didn’t know him too well but always found him great fun in the chats we did have. Sail on in peace Neil. X


Jessica Olmedo

Your words are beautiful Rick. What an extraordinary man and dear friend. We love you Neil and you will always sail with us.


Jayne Toyne

Oh no, what a huge loss of a fellow sailing soul. Those are lovely words Rick. I don’t know what to say, other than he will be missed. 🖤


Marcel Misset

Thnx for having me, Rick. My sincerest condoleances with the loss of your buddy. I’m Ellen’s new friend, met Neil, and got his blessing. I would love to share your beautiful and moving post on my timeline – I can’t now; you’d have to press a button ‘share’ somwewhere…


Bobby Drummond

Sad to hear the news. I can’t say anymore than what has already been said. He will be watching over all of us. All the best with the new adventures Kings Globaladventures


Thomas Chapman

Thank you Rick for sharing. Such and awful loss of such a great character. I will miss the posts of his great explorations. Safe travels Neil, I will miss you.


Sophie Palmer

So many incredible memories from our time in the Azores! RIP, such a wonderful person


Nick Watton

This is such sad, sad news, I will always remember him as a friend and shipmate. Thanks for letting us know Rick. Farewell Neil.

“Guided by the Lonely Star,

beyond the utmost harbour-bar,

I’ll find the heavens fair and free,

and beaches of the Starlit Sea.

Ship, my ship! I seek the West,

and fields and mountains ever blest.

Farewell to Middle-earth at last.

I see the Star above my mast!”



Victoria Bridge

So sorry to read this very sad and tragic news Rick. I never sailed with Neil but I do remember Neil for his sense of humour which made me chuckle. RIP Neil ❤️🥲 xx


Dave Penn

Very sad news Rick. Sounds like he was quite a character. I’m sure you and others will miss him.


Chris Ling-Django

Rick. This is so well put. Like everyone else, I was shocked to hear of Neil’s passing a couple of days ago and still can’t believe it. The overwhelming messages from around the world bear out just how much he touched people’s lives.

Neil was a charismatic, caring and highly capable person who brought fun and joy into everyone’s life and who could turn his hand to anything. Neil cared about people and supported Sailability. In a world of “Don’t Do”, he was a real “Can do” person. He was an avid learner, he planned carefully and he sailed courageously to the Arctic in his Hawk 20 dayboat.

He and I shared a passion for passage-making in smaller boats. I was messaging Neil towards the end of last year, when he was selling Arctic Fox and we discussed what might be his next smaller boat and what could be his next project when his back problems allowed him. We shared pictures of boats – he was getting into photography., but he wrote, his focus was on his “health and surviving the winter”.

I hope that you have finally found peace and release from your pain. RIP Big Man.


Andrew Rowsell

such a nice guy and a huge personality, even though i did not know him that well he was always chatty, friendly and not adverse to the odd glass of something a bit warming 🙂, remember him well at several regattas over the last few years. Definitely a larger than life character, not one you forget in a hurry. such a sad loss


Kate Ashmore

Such very sad news and such a loss to this world. I do hope he has found his peace. I will remember Neil as a happy sailor and a sensitive & generous soul. Wanting and willing to lend a hand, share some knowledge, a story or a laugh. Sending love to those that will miss him most x



Comments from the AZAB (Azores and Back Yacht Race Site)

Rick Newcombe


There will be few of us who sailed the last race who do not remember Neil. He was a sailor through and through so I felt I should post.


Such sad news. Neil was a star of AZAB2019 and so fondly remembered. Rest in Peace sailor your watch is done.


Inge Nederveen

A wonderful person is lost


Bert Janssen

So sad to hear this… Sail on, Neil…


Philippe Piron

😭a great man and a nice person !


Tim Vaughan

Very sorry to hear this, such a lovely guy.


Tony Irwin

Sorry to hear this


MailASail Satellite Communications

This is such sad news Rick – Ed and I will always remember the warm welcome that both you & Neil gave us onboard Exehibitionist in 2019. Sorry for the loss of your friend and sailing companion. Sue & Ed


Paul McSorley

A very sad loss. He was a great competitor, good friend & drinking buddy on the last AZAB. He will be missed. Paul, Viking Lord






Rick Newcombe

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