Todd Johnson, a sailor from Davidsonville, said he first came across Walker's books in the late 1960s, when he was teaching sailing in Maine. He used Walkers books on tactics and techniques as textbooks in his lessons.

The two later met when Johnson was making a push to qualify for the Olympics, and became friends when Johnson eventually moved to Maryland and joined the Severn Sailing Association.

Walker is "unique in terms of looking at sailing not only as a physical sport, which it is, but it's also a huge intellectual enterprise," Johnson said. "He's very adept at explaining that in an articulate way through his books and articles."

'Life includes sailing'

Despite all of his books and trophies, Walker said he hopes his lasting legacy is his work with the Severn Sailing Association, which he helped launch in the 1950s. He was the club's commodore from 1957 through 1961, and again in 1963.

While other sailing clubs have morphed into yacht clubs with tennis courts, pools and social clubs, the SSA remains focused on racing.

"Fifty-six years later, it's still a small boat racing club," he said.

David Koepper, the club's current commodore, said Walker's influence has been instrumental in maintaining the club's "tone and culture" over the years.

At a 90th birthday party at the club, Walker treated guests to beers served in his mugs that were trophies from regattas and races over the years. Koepper's mug was from 1964.

"He's amazing," Koepper said. "Last Sunday, when he had his party, he was out racing that day and he won. He's a very active sailor."

Walker said he's fascinated by sailing, the infinite variables of winds, tides, sails and tactics. He learns from his wins — and especially his losses — and shares that knowledge through his writing. He relishes a good fight to the finish.

"If I go out and beat everybody, it's no fun. You don't learn anything when you win. You learn when you lose," he said.

Walker has no plans to stop racing aboard his boat, Old Glory, any time soon. He also keeps a sailboat and a car in Europe, where his favorite racing spot is Lake Garda in northern Italy.

"I'm still planning on another 20 years," Walker said. "Life includes sailing. I wouldn't stop any time before I'm dead."

pwood@baltsun.com