Yachting Monthly's editor Paul Gelder embarks into retirement with traditional pomp

Last Friday was almost a lost day, in that venerable and longstanding tradition of journalism. A leisurely, liquid lunch was held as a retirement party for Paul Gelder, editor of Yachting Monthly, after ten very successful years in the job.

I will really miss seeing Paul in the offices that we share with ‘Monthly’. Most of all I’ll miss his enormous enthusiasm for sailors and high endeavour at sea, because Paul has an incredibly infectious reverence for the everyday heroes of yachting.

Paul (pictured above with his wife Anne) followed in the footsteps of famous editors such as Maurice Griffiths and Des Sleightholme, and counts as one of its most illustrious helmsmen. One of the things I admire most about him, apart from his unflagging enthusiasm for sailing, is his sparrowhawk eye for detail.

He joined Monthly over 20 years ago, quitting as editor of the West Sussex Gazette. His newspaper background told and I hugely admired his dedication to copytasting, technically accurate writing and subbing, captions, layouts and the overall quality of production. He cared about every comma in his magazine, a hallmark of trained skills that may be eroding in a culture of verbatim press releases and self-published websites but are nonetheless indispensable in print and especially in magazines.

That was the fine detail. Paul’s ideas, however, are the ones you’ll remember whether or not you’re a regular reader of Yachting Monthly. He was largely behind the high profile and successful plan to free Gipsy Moth IV from her concrete sarcophagus in Greenwich and get her sailing round the world again. The project allowed many disadvantaged young people to get a taste of yachting and the wider world.

Most recently, he came up with the gloriously inspired Crash Test series, which took a yacht and subjected her to a host of catastrophes, from sinking to being blown up in the Solent, to see what could be learned. As soon as he told me the outline of that project I thought: “Damn!” It was an insufferably good idea that required a lot of time, resources, teamwork and a daunting amount of planning and co-ordination.

We marked the reign of Paul in appropriate fashion by following lunch with a sesh at some unsalubrious pub in the nether regions of Waterloo Station. When I left in the early evening, I found him outside, holed up beside two other yachting magazine editors and heeling slightly as if buffeted by strong wind.

I mention it lest this well-deserved eulogy reads like an obituary. Last seen, Paul was going strong and happily he’ll be getting a chance to do more writing now. His next task is to finish his latest manuscript, a follow-up book to the Crash Test series, and get his boat ready to launch.

Cheers, Paul, and see you on the water.