November 2016 – The Business of Boating – The Pindar Journey

Andrew Pindar had arrived hot foot from the World Sailing Forum in Valletta, where he’d been engaged in debate about the future of competitive sailing – multihulls v monos, whether design should give racing craft a better chance of subsequent use after laurels are won or lost…

Andrew was born by water in the seaside town of Scarborough, North Yorkshire. A close friend came from a mad keen boating family, and Andrew was “dragged along” on water ski boats and Shearwater catamarans. He thought the water ski boats would be a better magnet for the girls, but in the event spotted his wife-to-be rowing ashore from her dad’s yacht. Sailing with her dad, which seemed a good tactic, may have been fraught at times but led him into marriage and later into sponsorship…

pindarInvolvement with sponsorship started small with a North Sea race, from Scarborough to Ijmuiden, and a growing realisation that sponsorship could present superb promotional opportunities for a company of the kind he was then part of (the family business – a world-class printing and publishing business). Through sponsorship he met Chay Blyth, who’d attracted 100,000 onlookers to a race start.

Andrew then proceeded to rattle off the names of practically all the great and good of yachting whom he’d come to know. He spoke of Pete Goss, Ellen McArthur, Alec Rose, Francis Chichester, Clare Frances, Naomi James, Mike Golding, Tracy Edwards, Emma Richards…

He showed us a video of Emma sporting nasty bruises from climbing the mast to sort out a halyard problem in heavy seas during the 2002 round-the-world race, and of her triumphant return in May 2003 with 29,000 miles under her belt to become the first woman and the youngest ever person to circumnavigate.

Andrew is a keen supporter of sailing for the disabled. His second video of the night featured Hilary Lister, a quadriplegic sailor who, in her own words says, “When I’m sailing I go into a different world… it’s like flying!”. The freedom sailing gives her is indeed extraordinary – and the re-use of old wheel chair parts to control a boat rather satisfying. With Andrew’s help, Hilary has sailed the Channel solo (in a little over 6 hours) and has her sights set now on other, bigger, sailing challenges.

Andrew lamented that we were still using 50-year-old designs (and even 50 year old boats) in the clubs open to youngsters to learn sailing, so it was no wonder that interest was tailing off.

The family business hit the buffers a few years ago, leaving Andrew with more time to pursue other things – and he did, establishing GAC Pindar with GAC (Gulf Agency Co.) to act as ship’s agents and handle the ever more complex logistics of ocean racing and extreme sailing. This seems go from strength to strength, with Team Australia and the Americas Cup amongst the customers.

As an encore Andrew told us a rather different story: of “Hatherleigh”, a de-commissioned trawler he’d owned, the fish hold of which he’d converted to a bar. At St Tropez in 2004, he’d run a free bar for the crews, which managed to attract practically all the RIBs in the harbour. In this same trawler he’d staged a rescue that had involved days of cruising to a disabled Volvo 60. “The longest rescue in British maritime history” as he phrased it.

(For the record: Andrew waived a fee for giving us this talk, but asked us to make a donation to Hilary’s Dream Trust, which we have been delighted to do. Good luck Hilary in your next endeavour!)