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One Family's Sailing Story

Paul, family and crew collect trophies at the prize giving
Paul, family and crew collect trophies at the prize giving

Paul Pratt is Vice Commodore of Liverpool Yacht Club. Five years ago he’d never sailed, yet he became an offshore sailor and boat owner in less than two years.

Following a trip to Anglesey where Paul and his family had tried their hand at dinghy sailing, he rolled up at the Water sports Centre in the Queen’s Dock not knowing what to expect. His timing could not have been more perfect because he bumped into long standing LYC members Alan and Mary Dickinson who helped get him out on the water again there and then.

During the next couple of hours Paul tried his hand in a Topper dinghy. He quickly learnt what it was like to capsize! Despite the dunking Paul was hooked and certain sailing was a sport for him and his family.

Paul with Natasha and Josh
Paul with Natasha and Josh

He encouraged his children Natasha, still in junior school and the  slightly older Josh to get involved. By the August of 2012 they were learning the ropes in their weekly sessions with the LYC dinghy section. The following Spring Paul and Josh signed up for the Introduction to Keel Boat course staged by the yacht club.

After the training the guys managed to secure race crew positions aboard the newly arrived boat ‘Joyrider’, a J35. Andy Bracken, the boat’s skipper, is known as an unconventional sailor among LYC members so in many ways it was a baptism of fire for the Pratts. Paul tells us:

‘One of our first trips on the boat was a delivery to Holyhead. Aged just 12 Josh was helming through the wind farm at night under sail. He saw Andy as an exciting Irish man whilst I was just grateful to be sailing with an ex-national dinghy champion. Bracken is very competitive so sailing and racing with him that year on more than 100 occasions was invaluable.’

Because of Paul and Josh’s dedication to turn up week in, week out, they were never short of a boat to sail on. By 2013 Paul had been asked to join the crew of 38ft  yacht Diva for the challenging Fastnet Race.

Paul told us that it was an accomplishment just to take part and complete the race. His confidence boosted, he decided to invest in his own boat. It was serendipitous that a local boat with a trusted provenance came on the market: 24ft quarter 7 tonne ‘Di-Rich’. Paul put an offer in that was accepted.

Along with his partner in the boat, experienced yachtsman Tim Hare, they went on to fill a cabinet with local sailing trophies.

Paul tells us: ‘We had great times sailing on Di-Rich. At well under £10k she was an ideal way to get into boat ownership. Josh, myself and Tim could take her out to race on our own, but most weeks  it was good to have the help of a couple of crew as well. Managing a boat and racing crew is a job in itself. I am glad I started with  a small boat but I'm ready for the challenge of something larger and have the boat up for sale.'

Josh now instructs other youngsters in dinghy sailing
Josh now instructs other youngsters in dinghy sailing

Alongside all of this Paul and Josh were still turning up for dinghy sessions nearly every week. Natasha was slowly becoming more interested. She quite regularly gets out on the river in fairer weather or to sail   in the less competitive Venture Class.

Paul became Vice Commodore of the yacht club last year; he takes responsibility for helping manage the club. Paul and Josh are now helping run kids’ dinghy sessions every week to help mature
local sailing talent. Mum Carole often takes advantage of the social events run by the yacht club.

He adds: ‘What captured my imagination with sailing is that it is l sport you can do all your life, young or old. That in turn makes it a fantastic family pastime. There has been the odd challenge over the last few years but I wouldn’t change it or all the friends I have made along the way for anything’

This story was courtesy of Liverpool Marina

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