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Interview with P&B's Dave Wade: Finding the balance

by Mark Jardine 14 Aug 2018 12:00 BST
P&B's Dave Wade © Mark Jardine

I recently spoke to Dave Wade at P&B about balancing running a business, family life, his own sailing, P&B's thriving fit-outs of championship-winning boats, his views on sailing events and which boat is his favourite to sail...

Mark Jardine: In 2017 you sailed with your daughter in the Mirror UK Nationals and Worlds. What was the experience of the World Championship like for you?

Dave: It was really good, and we did quite a bit of practice, mostly weekend sailing. She's now doing her own sailing which has progressed, and she's now sacked me! My youngest daughter has now come on board and I'm doing a lot of sailing with her on the weekends. We were a bit disappointed to finish second in the Worlds and are planning to go on a big family trip to Australia this year to try and win the World Championship. I have to go running and lose a bit of weight for it!

Mark Jardine: Is the majority of your own and your family sailing based at your local Pitsford Reservoir?

Dave: Yes, we do quite a bit there. We have a local P&B Anglian Water Series which involves clubs from around the area, where we all meet up, have a social, coaching in the morning, a very laid-back introduction to sailing; that's how my daughter got into it. In the afternoons they work on what they've learnt in the morning and do some racing, followed by tea, cakes and a bit of fun. We go to local clubs like Cransley, Hollowell, Northampton of course and lots of others.

Mark Jardine: So, while you do travel from club to club, it's very much a local initiative?

Dave: Yes, with the kids' sailing. My eldest daughter is into the RS Teras and she's into squads and the open meeting circuit, but I'm trying to build our sailing around the local clubs as I don't want to spend the whole time travelling.

Mark Jardine: When you were getting your kids into sailing, what did you think was the most important aspect of their time in boats?

Dave: Sailing with me! I just wanted to go sailing with my kids and teach them how to sail. That's what I did with my Dad – I spent years sailing with him and I still love doing that. I think it's great that they also sail their own boats and I'm encouraging that as well, but the family time together on the water is priceless.

Mark Jardine: With P&B thriving, especially on the boat fit-outs where you're creating off-the-shelf championship winning boats, how do you balance your time between family, work and getting some sailing for yourself in?

Dave: Sailing for myself is taking a back seat at the moment. I tend to get up very early in the mornings, get to work early so I can have the evenings to myself and do a bit of sailing or take the kids to whatever they're doing such as ballet and football. I also find in the morning the phones aren't ringing, the emails aren't flying in, so you can concentrate, catch up on work and get yourself organised for the day - then it's all hands-on deck when the orders come in.

Mark Jardine: In the internet age I presume everybody wants everything delivered yesterday?

Dave: Yes, it's the Amazon world isn't it. Everybody expects their order to arrive within 24 hours now and a lot of our products are bespoke and made to order, because that's the type of thing we do specialise in. Ropes for different classes, specialised parts and you can't necessarily turn them round in 24 hours; we try to do it in 3-5 days maximum.

Mark Jardine: This is where P&B really thrives, the custom products. You don't just send a boat out of the door, it's set up to win.

Dave: We treat it like it's our own boat; we want everyone to go out in a boat which has the potential to win. It's what we do and why people come to us. We have customers from Australia, North America, Europe and of course all over the UK.

Mark Jardine: Which classes are most popular with you and currently going out of the yard?

Dave: 505s are constantly going out and the Oppis are going really well. Then we have regular Flying Fifteens, Fireballs, Streakers and Solos – it's busy! We have to juggle making the sails, covers and getting everything measured to ensure it all comes together at the same time.

Mark Jardine: Apart from the Mirror Worlds in Australia, do you have any events you're planning to compete in this year?

Dave: I took part in Salcombe Merlin Week - I was a bit nervous as I could have done with a bit more practice!

Mark Jardine: What do you think it is which makes Salcombe Merlin Week attract 120 entries when then Nationals usually gets half that?

Dave: I'd only been to Salcombe once before and it wasn't the most fun sailing I've ever done, but the social was good, the place is lovely, and it's the general laid-back nature of the sailing, whereas if you go to the Nationals it's full-on, everyone goes home after sailing because they're worn out.

Mark Jardine: Do you think sailing events in general could learn from Salcombe Merlin Week?

Dave: Definitely. From my personal perspective, some of the fun has been taken out of sailing and it's all a bit too full-on half the time. At some of the championships I go to you have two or three races a day, each lasting up to two hours, and my family stopped going to events because I was on the water from 8 in the morning until 5 in the evening, and when I came off the water I was either dealing with work or I was worn out, went for a meal and then went to bed. Funnily enough they didn't find that fun. With Salcombe you know you've got one race a day, you're on the water for two hours, you come off the water, sit on the beach with beach with your pasty, have a bit of fun and have a beer. Similar events like Abersoch Dinghy Week and Poole Week have taken off and they're the kind of event I'd like to go to as I know I can take my whole family, they can all go sailing at the same time, I can do my sailing, and everyone's a winner!

Mark Jardine: You sail a diverse range of boats. What in your opinion is the one which is most fun to sail?

Dave: It depends on the weather. If it's windy I love sailing my Fireball, the Merlin is a great tactical boat and then I like sailing with the kids in the Mirror to be frank. I miss sailing the Scorpion – that was a good fun boat, but I can't do everything.

Mark Jardine: Best of luck for the season ahead and continue to enjoy your sailing.

Dave: Sounds like a plan!

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