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Meet The Member Interview – Richard Ash, Rear Commodore (Sailing)

(This interview was originally published in the June 2020 newsletter)

In this Meet the Members article our Rear Commodore (Sailing), Richard Ash, gives us his thoughts about his life with PYC. We’re keen to use this slot for all members – if you’re happy to be interviewed please contact PYC Comms

What first interested you in taking on your role in the Management Committee? 
I joined the Management Committee initially as an ordinary member because I wanted to understand the difference between what the MC does and what the SC does. I had been on the SC for many years as Bosun and was frustrated by the confusion – in my eyes and others’ – between what the two committees do.  

What do you do for the Club in this role?
I am now the Rear Commodore (Sailing) which someone likened to the CEO of the club. I am the chair of the Sailing Committee and am responsible for everything related to the actual sailing operations. My main interactions are with the Bosuns and the representatives of the three arms of activity: Cruising, Racing, and Training. I also work closely with the Treasurer on all budgetary matters and with the RC Admin on everything else (bookings, membership, our rules, communications and marketing, and IT – about which I freely admit knowing nothing). Over the years the role of the RCS has flexed a little depending on how self sufficient these different areas have been.

What are the best and worst things about the role?
The best thing is deep involvement in all aspects of our club with such a dedicated group of volunteers who keep everything running.The worst thing is that while “The buck stops with me” on many issues, I still have to keep everyone on board with eventual compromises – and live with them.  

Tell us something entertaining that has happened whilst in the role. 
Entertaining? I don’t know what to say to this. Satisfying, rewarding, challenging all feature, but I cannot view it as entertainment other than perhaps trying to have effective meetings on Zoom!

What drew you to sailing? 
My (later) wife Judith introduced a group of friends to sailing. A bit of a baptism of fire as it was a one way trip from Poole to Ipswich on a Barracuda 45 (Who remembers “Howards Way” on the TV? It was the central boat manufacturer in that series). The skipper was an out and out racing skipper who did not understand how to handle a crew, let alone inexperienced people. Unfortunately his answer to everything was to shout. However we did the trip overnight flying the spinnaker all the time, in less than 24 hours! A little bit hairy when we had to let the spinnaker fly to de-power to avoid the Ramsgate ferry in its narrow channel.

Could you share one or two of your key learning sailing experiences?
As skipper: don’t shout, delegate, watch out for the crew losing concentration or feeing ill, act conservatively at all times, always have a backup plan, discuss with the crew if there are options, but then you have to decide.As crew: remember who is the skipper and don’t issue instructions to crew unless asked to by the skipper, relax and enjoy not being skipper and having to make all those decisions!

Have you learnt anything from sailing which has helped in your personal or business life? 
Make good plans – but don’t get too upset if they don’t work out!Don’t assume that everyone else is working to the same plan as you if you don’t tell them about it.

What is your ultimate sailing aspiration? Have you already achieved it? 
I don’t have  an ultimate sailing aspiration; where would the fun be if you knew what the ultimate was, and could just go and do it? My aspirations are mostly smaller steps – the anchor that holds first time in a perfect spot, a satisfying warm summer sail from Poole to the Portsmouth Swashway, and finding new quiet anchorages to visit when off cruising somewhere.

What is your favourite sailing destination in the Solent/South Coast sailing area?
Too many to count, but there is a nice anchorage around the back of Brownsea Island in Poole harbour. I do like Bembridge too. Oh – and Beaulieu river – though I don’t much like the pub at Bucklers Hard, the marina is friendly.  If you’ve not been, then you should visit Gins (RSYC clubhouse) in the lower section of the Beaulieu river too.

Where would you like to see the Club in five years’ time?
Still with two boats carrying out a wide range of activities, with average age creeping down, and with a good churn in the people contributing to running the club.  

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