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Meet The Member Interview – Ted Sankey, former Commodore

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

What first interested you in standing for office?
Having had the benefit from Phoenix to do such a range of sailing, I wanted to give something back.

What do you do for the Club as a Commodore? 
The formal role is to be a director of the Club and Chairman of its Management Committee, the committee of directors. The most important task is to ensure that the Committee is able to determine overall policy and promote the success of the Club for the members in a timely and informed way. The special enjoyable part is to chair the AGM of the club with its social activities as well, the big occasion when we get together!

What are the best things about the role?
Hearing of the sailing that members do – and their hopes! I get to hear from more Phoenix members than I otherwise would. It is always welcome. Of course sometimes I hear a concern, and it is pleasing when the outcome is some sort of advance in the value of Phoenix to its members. Equally good about the role is that Phoenix has a fine team of committed officers and other volunteers. Aiming, with the rest of the Management Committee, to help make volunteered time for members’ benefit ever more satisfying is a great thing.

Tell us something entertaining about life as a Commodore
It was a bit of fun that the first Management Committee I chaired was the 100th! We celebrated with a special cake! A little later last year, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Club. It was a success as an evening for members en masse to meet, mingle, natter and eat – a neat variation from those other very enjoyable times together in crews. In February last we put more social time into the AGM evening.
What drew you to sailing?
It really took off when I worked at BP and a colleague suggested I join his crew. After spells overseas, on return I got really stuck into BPYC. It is the adventure, the companionship, the enveloping activity that drives everything else out of one’s mind, and the variety of conditions and challenges that is so captivating. 

Could you share one or two of your key learning sailing experiences?
For me, no amount of shore courses, magazine articles, YouTube clips, is any substitute for live performance of a difficult situation. It has been my best way to ensure I really absorb the learning. This might be a real emergency (perish the thought) or a rehearsal, but that way one remembers best from doing and from refreshers. The experience builds self-confidence and faster responses. When on a long broad reach or run, I regularly check astern – that’s where the gust will come from! (with thanks to Andrew Laing – an instructor of mine and Founding Commodore now retired to Australia.)

Have you learnt anything from sailing which has helped in your personal or business life?
Following the above about being prepared, I aim to take precautions for a bad turn of events at the earliest stage. “Think ahead.” It is much easier to get precautions in course early, than hope for the best and then find crew and yacht are struggling.

What is your ultimate sailing aspiration? Have you already achieved it? 
One was the Fastnet. The next aspiration would be a trans-Atlantic.

What is your favourite sailing destination in the Solent/South Coast sailing area?
In one of my Commodore’s Pieces I praised the Solent – it provides every sort of opportunity and challenge short of deep ocean storm seas! But my favourite single destination is Salcombe. I first went in on a sunny day in the school holidays. It was nerve-racking – the estuary, in places narrow for a keel boat, was buzzing with kids in Picos, Mirrors, canoes, etc, and older ones in larger dinghies and motor boats. The kids would come belting across and just under the bow would tack away again turning on a sixpence! But of course the estuary is a delight with scope for further exploring the river, and the town offers a lot of interest.

Where would you like to see the Club in five years’ time?
All membership clubs face a generational challenge – increasingly some people prefer pay-as–you–go experiences, and Phoenix has to appeal to those who want something deeper. One way is for Phoenix to continue to aim to cover all sailing interests from crewing, through training, development and certification, to distant cruising (summer cruise style) and all forms of racing. And to do this with appealing yachts. In an equally important aspect of differentiating ourselves from the pay-as-you-go world , I would like us to be ensuring that membership brings good social and bonding benefits, especially during the winter months, to maintain a feeling of fellowship across Phoenix.

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