SYDNEY - Hundreds of mourners celebrated the life of high-flying businessman and convicted fraudster Alan Bond on Friday, gathering in the Australian port city of Fremantle where he was remembered for his historic America's Cup triumph.
Bond, who died in the Western Australia city of Perth last Friday aged 77 after complications from open heart surgery, was a larger-than-life entrepreneur who became a national hero after leading the first non-American team to win the yachting competition in 1983.
Family, friends and supporters spoke of their love for the colourful character at the public service in Fremantle's St Patrick's Basilica church, 20 kilometres (12 miles) southwest of Perth.
"A remarkable man, an extraordinary man, a truly extraordinary man," prominent local businessman John Hughes, the cousin of Bond's ex-wife Eileen, told the congregation at the Roman Catholic church.
"I don't think we'll ever see the like of him again," he added in the service's only eulogy, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
"This morning we're seeing the passing of a legend, Alan Bond." British-born Bond, whose family moved to Fremantle when he was aged 11, was at the height of his powers in the 1980s and bankrolled Australia II's win over Dennis Connor's Liberty that ended the 132-year US dominance of the America's Cup.
Fremantle was also where Bond mounted a defence of the America's Cup in 1987, with locals crediting him for bringing the port city back to life.
But Bond's empire fell apart the following decade and he was eventually bankrupted. He was convicted of swindling Aus$1.2 billion dollars (S$1 billion at that time) from his company and served three years in jail for what was then Australia's biggest corporate fraud.
Bond's daughter Jody Fewster and grandson Dash Fewster read the prayers.
"All of us here today give thanks for the friendship, inspiration, love, humour and generosity that pop showed us," his daughter said.
"We will miss him."