July 19, 2023
By Nigel Cochrane
We all need fans no matter what path we choose in life. One fan can make a huge difference and when I needed a boost she was always there.
We all are only one but we reach many. Edda Stockton was full of life, she called a spade a spade, had a mischievous grin and rarely said no to anything. She could dance up a storm on a moment’s notice and she was my biggest fan.
The super-enthused C&C 34 one-design fleet brought us together. Edda owned “Tilley” a fast beauty of a 34 with simple red and white stripe graphics. I sailed on “Rikki Tikki Tavi” and when we entered the fleet Tilley and Chris Steer’s “Maggie Kelly” were the two boats to beat. Chris and Edda had great battles together on the water and it was such a thrill to join such high-level competition.
During a fun night at the RCYC bar post-C&C 34 racing, I had a crazy idea and Edda was there beside me to share it. I proposed that we do an exchange with the Soviet team behind the iron curtain. At that time, the Wall was still up, Berlin was divided and the world seemed a bit crazy to me. Edda could make sense of it all by making fun of it. I loved that about her. She could laugh off any situation no matter how important it seemed to me in the moment.
“Edda”, I said “Why don’t we do an exchange with the Russian team and go behind the iron curtain and see what Russia is really like?”. I could hardly get the words out and she said “Absolutely, let’s go!!!” I then added “Edda, you know you will have to pay for it as I sure as hell can’t afford a trip like that” and she replied, “I know” and she smiled that mischievous smile.
The trip seemed impossible at the time but turned out the Russians really wanted to train in Vancouver prior to the Goodwill Games in Seattle so the exchange was made. I would host the Russian Finn team in Vancouver prior to the Games and we would go to Sochi for a 470 training camp in the spring of the same year.
In 1990, plans were made bags packed and visas were being arranged. Then, the Canadian Yachting Association in its wisdom told me that there would not be space for Edda as she would not qualify for a visa but great news for me; instead of Edda they would have visas for CYA staff so the trip could still go ahead. I was devastated and did not know how to tell Edda the bad news. When I finally got the nerve to tell her she just laughed. I was caught completely off guard and looked at her stunned thinking she would be so upset that she was no longer going after all the plans we had made. She leaned in close to me and said, “Those (expletives deleted) – well I’m not paying then!”. She had her visa the next day. God, I loved that woman. She just brought me so much joy.
There were so many great stories we had together from that trip to Russia but the best evening without a doubt was a box seat in the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow watching Maya Plisetskaya’s final performance with Edda wearing her newly acquired Russian fur coat. She just radiated with all the attention she was getting. A true aristocrat and a successful independent woman making no excuses to anyone. She was a force to be reckoned with and she made such a great statement as to what was possible in Canada in those times.
Her contribution to my Olympic program was far more than financial. She was an inspiration and she made sailing fun for everyone who was fortunate to be in her company. I will be forever in her debt and forever in awe of her lust for life and the support she gave to our sailing community.
Good-bye Edda and thank you for everything, especially your laughter and of course your mischievous smile.