Member stories: Mark Pritchard
Mark works with businesses and organisations in a chairman and mentoring capacity to help them grow and evolve. He has been an RNLI Lifeboats Council member since 2013. We sit down with Mark to talk about how he first got into sailing and why he’s chosen to be a Pure Latitude member for 11 years.
“I learnt to sail with my wife before we were married. We wanted to do something different together so we learnt to dinghy sail in the Solent, and that sparked the idea to charter a yacht in the Caribbean for our honeymoon. We completed the Yachtmaster theory and Day Skipper practical courses in the UK. After passing, we sailed around the Windward Islands for 3 weeks – which was a wonderful time, if something of a baptism of fire at times! But the experience cemented our love of sailing together.
After that, we wanted to do more sailing but it felt quite difficult to know how to do it. Chartering a boat can be expensive, the boat quality is very mixed and you need to plan a long way in advance. Chartering isn’t very flexible which we found an issue, especially given unpredictable UK weather as novice sailors. I started toying with the idea of buying a boat, despite the high annual mooring and boat upkeep costs. I couldn’t see how else to sail regularly so in 2011 I went to the London Boat Show with the intention of buying. That’s where I met Martin, the founder of Pure Latitude. He introduced me to his boat club model. There was nothing else like it at the time and we loved the idea of access to a range of boats, flexibility, training, and support. It made a lot of sense and I joined within a week.
When my wife and I first joined Pure Latitude we were not confident sailors. Initially, we needed someone to hold our hands while we gained confidence, especially as we wanted to go sailing with our young children. It was great to have access to experienced skippers who helped us learn simple techniques that made sailing with the children easier, safe, and fun.
The team at Pure Latitude simplifies sailing. They are always happy to advise you where to go, what to watch out for, and fun (or challenging) activities. That’s the sort of advice you don’t get when chartering, or when you own a boat.
I’ve been a member for 11 years. Year in and year out we’ve done regular sailing, and we’ve massively improved our skills. The professional boating courses I’ve done with the club have also been valuable – such as park it like a pro, boat systems, night sailing, and I did my RYA coastal skipper last year. The great thing about being part of the club is once you’ve completed a training course, boats are available to take out and practice, so it really cements your learning. I definitely do more sailing because of my Pure Latitude membership.
Emily, my daughter, is 18. She really enjoyed the sailing trip we did last summer. She’d got stuck in and was keen to learn; trimming the sail, helming, getting involved in the navigation. Membership is a great way to get young people into the sport. She encouraged me to take her racing – which I hadn’t done before – so I signed us up for one of the PL team race events.
Unfortunately on the day I wasn’t very well, so I couldn’t go. She bravely decided to go on her own. The PL team took good care of her and she had a great day. She came back and said, “I want to go again!”. So recently we took part in one of the JOG races in the Solent – which was a really exciting, fun, and social experience.
Our children are at the age where they are increasingly independent and so having fun outdoors, learning, and having adventures together creates treasured family memories. When you can share a common experience, adventure, or interest with them, it’s very special.
“One of the fondest memories I have on the water is an event that Martin told us about. He suggested that we take a Pure Latitude boat from Plymouth in the summer and watch the National Firework Championships held there. Three firework displays every night for two days in summer. It was magical. We lay on the deck in our sleeping bags as a family watching the fireworks. We would never have known about it if we hadn’t been club members.”
Generally, we like variety. My boys, Ollie and Ben, love a bustling marina, and my wife and I prefer a quiet anchorage. That’s the beauty of boating, you can choose. If you don’t want to see another soul you don’t have to, which of course has been particularly valuable over the last 2 years with the pandemic.
“Last September I took my old university buddies out sailing for a couple of nights – their first time sailing – and we had a brilliant few days together. Being able to share my membership with family and friends means a lot and is a big part of what makes boating with Pure Latitude special for me.”