Celebrations for British ocean sailor's greatest supporter


Happy Birthday, Mr Pindar!

I wrote earlier this month about how Andrew Pindar had become most prolific supporter of British ocean racing and promised to come back to the subject in another blog. Well, British sailing’s Good Samaritan turned 50 on Saturday and this week his friends and fans in the sailing world are putting on a big party to celebrate – where else but at the Transat Jacques Vabre in Le Havre and on the Hatherleigh, his company’s decommissioned 116ft Lowestoft trawler.

Andrew Pindar’s sailing sponsorship (he is chairman of G A Pindar & Son Ltd, a family-owned print and publishing business based in Scarborough) began as a business club member of Sir Chay Blyth’s 1996 BT Global Challenge. Through it he metEmma Richardsand agreed to back her for the OSTAR in 2000.

The programme snowballed. Besides Emma, he has backed women sailorsHelena Darvelid, Sophie LutherandLia Ditton, as well asMike SandersonandPete Goss. Pindar sponsored a yacht in the 2004 Global Challenge and he made it possible for disabled sailorHilary Listerto sail across the Channel. Right now he is sponsoring solo sailorsBrian ThompsonandJo Royle, young 420 sailorHannah Millsand match racerIan Williams.

He has been a Good Samaritan in lots of quiet ways most people don’t realise. He sent Hatherleigh to Portugal with a spare mast when Italian sailor Simone Bianchetti was dismasted in the 2002 Around Alone, he made a personal donation to Canadian sailor Derek Hatfield’s campaign and underwrote the build of a new mast when Hatfield was pitchpoled at Cape Horn.

He again sent the Hatherleigh without a moment’s hesitation to help recover Jean-Pierre Dick’s Virbac when he was dismasted mid-Atlantic in 2004, even though it meant having the trawler re-coded.

He was a great supporter of Tracey Edwards and loaned her £550,000 to buy the maxi cat Maiden 2. It went sour when she failed to repay the sum and, no mug he, Pindar was one of the first creditors to be repaid before the whole sorry Oryx Quest business went belly-up.

His parents are also champions of sailing; his father Tom was a benefactor of the revived Gipsy Moth IV.

Pindar’s pre-race parties on Hatherleigh are legendary. They’ve become a hall of fame, jam-packed with famous ocean racers all seemingly hell-bent on drinking their body weight in Newcastle Brown Ale. Pindar himself, a gregarious, hyperactive man, usually does the honours behind the bar.

And despite having one of most high-tech Open 60s around, Andrew Pindar’s interest is essentially traditional. He once told me: “I love boats and I’m a real anorak. I get Ships Monthly and another magazine called Sea Breezes, which is all about ships and people who went round Cape Horn in 1940.”

So, Happy Birthday Mr Pindar, and like hundreds of sailors and ocean racing fans I say: congratulations, thank you – and let there be many happy returns.