Wednesday, April 4, 2012

In memory of Norman Priebatsch

CBI's President, Karyn Brudnicki has authored today's blog remembering  Norman Priebatsch.  Reflecting the complexity of life, we all have our own memories, recollections and feelings when we lose someone. I know I'm not alone in expressing deep sadness that comes from losing a friend. Karyn has remembered Norman beautifully.  Thank you Karyn.


Walking out on the new docks, it is impossible to miss the red shed hosting a fleet of windsurfer sails and the array of windsurfing boards hanging on racks beside it.  Perhaps like me, you’ve even abandoned the comparatively stable (and dry) boats to check out a windsurfing class.

Our windsurfing program has come a long way from where it was when I first joined CBI in 2002.  We now have an impressive fleet of over two dozen windsurfers, with a range of beginner to advanced boards, a dedicated crew of volunteers that fixes the equipment, and robust class offerings including windsurfing clinics.

All this is possible largely due to the efforts of one particular volunteer, Norman Priebatsch. 
He dedicated countless hours to improving CBI’s windsurfing program, leading working groups to acquire new equipment, as well as to maintain and improve the quality of the programming offered at CBI.  He was passionate about infusing his zest for windsurfing into countless members’ lives. 

A week ago, Norman emailed out to announce that Dan Weiss of US Windsurfing would open the season with a rigging class in the morning of March 31st.  On that Saturday, Norman led his last volunteer effort for CBI, helping rig sails and prepare the equipment for the season.

Thus it is with a very heavy heart that I write to share this news with you.  Norman was hiking the Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington on Sunday afternoon with friends and family when he fell into a deep crevasse.  Rescue efforts have been suspended.

I always knew Norman as the go-to windsurfing guru, but it was not until I joined the Board in 2008 that I got to know him on a more personal level.  He welcomed, encouraged, and supported me on the Board.  An award to recognize the efforts of our volunteers was his idea.  At his request, I drafted the wording for the volunteer award, the first of many policies I created or reviewed, thanks to his initial inspiration.

Norman always had a bright smile on his face and an even brighter idea to share about how to improve CBI.  It was a challenge to keep up with him – he was more energetic than 10 members, putting those ideas into action and spurring others to participate.  A noted entrepreneur, he employed his business talents serving CBI as a Board Member from 2007-2009.

You could always find Norman on the water.  The classic Norman outfit was a pair of sneakers, white socks, and sporting a walkman.  How many people do you know who still rock a walkman, much less on the water?  Norman carried it in a plastic bag in his fanny pack, while both windsurfing and running on the Charles.  (Yes, on the Charles, not just by it!)  He didn’t care if it got wet – it was only a walkman after all.  He generally listened to books on tape, turning to rock and roll only when it was particularly windy.  This truly embodies the type of person he was – someone with strong intellectual drive and a passion for active living.

An avid outdoorsman, he enjoyed exploring nature through windsurfing, cycling, running, skiing, and hiking, among other pursuits.  He truly seized life by the horns and would wish for no regrets.  In his honor, I plan to try windsurfing again this summer and I hope you’ll join me.

He leaves behind a strong legacy on the Charles River:  a superb windsurfing program with top-notch equipment and enthusiastic volunteers and sailors.  His efforts will be felt by members of our community for generations to come.  Norman, you will be sorely missed.  I invite members to share your favorite memory of Norman, to celebrate his life and impact on CBI.  


  1. I used to put on little grommets and enjoy windsurfing. It's a lot different back then.

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  4. Group Boating is respected to report that the Friends and Family of Norman Priebatsch have set up a blessing in his memory to bolster the Community Boating Windsurfing Program.

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