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Paul Howard

Published 10:51 on 27 Nov 2023

Remembering Paul Howard

Paul Howard, long-time supporter of HRSC, died unexpectedly on 17th October 2023. Paul had been a member of Hamble River Sailing Club since 2015. He will be very much missed by not only the club but the whole local sailing community. We will miss his friendship and his rather special sense of humour as well as his skills.

Paul was a member of HRSC sailing committee and has been one of our most enthusiastic volunteers, always willing to drive a mark laying rib, to assist on a race committee or in various jobs around the Club House. He had a long sailing and boating history, regularly doing delivery trips and sailing holidays and recently very much enjoyed a rather wet and bumpy delivery from Turkey to Greece with his wife Kay. He was a member of the Hamble River rowing club and the Solent "Galley Slaves" group that is maintaining and rowing a historic Solent Galley.

For a number of years, Paul crewed a Dart 18 based at Weston Sailing Club, where he also ran cup series and open events. Earlier in his life he was a diver with shares in a local dive boat. Before retiring he was in the construction industry and some years ago restored, with Kay, the local landmark "West Lodge" next to Weston Sailing Club

The Flag Officers and Committee Members pass their sincere condolences to Paul's wife, Kay, his extended family, and also to his beloved dog, Bob.

Celebration of the Life of Paul Howard

A celebration of Paul's life was held at the Club on 15th November 2023. The Clubhouse was packed with old friends who gathered to enjoy a drink or two (with emphasis on "or two" for Paul), a wonderful spread of nibbles prepared by Administrator Gemma and Rear Commodore House Tricia, and to talk about the times they had spent with Paul.

Past Commodore Steph Merry shares her personal memories:

I first met Paul in the early '80s, when we sailed together on Sir Owen Aisher's Yeoman 21. After the 1983 Fastnet race, he asked for a lift back to Hamble in my battered MGB roadster, which Caroline Aisher had bravely delivered down to Plymouth. Paul certainly had a good sense of adventure! You will be pleased to hear that we made it to Hamble without mishap.

A number of Paul's shipmates from the Yeoman days joined us for a celebration of Paul's life on 15th November. However, one of those shipmates with whom he formed a particularly close friendship was Keith Hancock, who was sadly unable to be there he now lives in Falmouth and sent his apologies and best wishes to all. When I told Keith about Paul's sudden demise, he said that he had known Paul even longer than me. They sailed together on Yeoman 19, Sir Owen's previous boat, and shared a similar working background in the construction industry. They also shared a very special sense of humour, so I asked Keith for a few stories to pass on.

Paul sailed the Sydney to London leg of the Round the World Yacht Race on the Australian yacht Anaconda2, leaving on 23 December 1975 and finishing at Dover on 8 March 1976. He told Keith how they ran low on food and water, so did not do much washing during the trip. Nearing the Falklands, they spotted a black cloud heading their way, so the crew stripped off and soaped themselves down, eagerly awaiting their fresh-water shower. The cloud got closer and closer and was only a couple of hundred metres away when it "did a sharp right hand turn and missed them".

But despite arriving in England a bit grubby, Paul had earned his stripes as a Cape Horner and was always invited to attend the annual Cape Horner's dinner with a partner. One year Paul was "between wives" as Keith put it, so he invited Keith to accompany him instead.

Yeoman did lots of cross-Channel passage races, which gave the crew plenty of opportunities to get into trouble in French and Channel Island ports. After one such race, they anchored in Alderney Harbour, where the hazardous trip ashore was made by the local launch service. Paul stepped onto the top harbour step but lost his balance and somehow his next step landed underwater and he was wet up to his knees.He was so cross (and we all know what that means) that he marched up the steps as if nothing has happened.

Sailing on Yeoman brought Paul - and indeed others in the crew - a taste of the luxury life-style. They were all very proud that crewmate Bob Bell was the pilot of Laura Ashley's private jet. Through that connection, some of them were invited to sail on Bernard Ashley's 50 ft Nicholson for the Nioulargue regatta in St Tropez. Paul, Keith and no doubt others from the Yeoman crew flew on the Ashley jet from Bournemouth airport (called Hurn at that time) to Paris, Orly and then on to Nice for lunch, before continuing to Port Grimaud where they were staying. Paul said that he could get used to that form of travel!

And the last Keith and Paul story concerns the time when Keith was very upset following the break-up of his marriage to Ann. Paul consoled him by saying: "Don't worry, I've still got your wedding present in my desk drawer"!

Fast forward from the mid-eighties and I was surprised a few years ago to see Paul again at HRSC. His grand-prix racing days were over, but he still loved being on the water. He was not interested in Committee work he made sure that he had other commitments that clashed with the Sailing Committee meetings but was always there to help on the practical side with preparing race equipment prior to events. All 3 Clubs in Hamble (the RAFYC, RSrnYC and HRSC) benefitted from his mark-laying and race officer skills.

And Paul was always ready to help people. He was driving the rib Legacy and I was driving Nicholson on mark-laying duties during the recent one design regatta of the HWS. The mark-layer with me was a novice and when we got to the point of streaming the first mark, I looked around and saw a tangled pile of rope attached to the ground tackle. Paul noticed my look of despair, came alongside and dispatched his more experienced mark-layer to sort out the mess.Paul was equally supportive of Jamie Wilkinson since his illness, taking him out for coffee and often providing a taxi service when needed.

In recent years, Paul took up Pilates, attending the classes at the Hamble Memorial Hall, along with his friends Janet Grosvenor, Jamie Wilkinson and me. He called it Pilats. When we had completed a particularly arduous exercise, our instructor Lynn would ask brightly "Is everyone OK?" There would be a groan from Paul's corner as he answered "Ecstatic". And the next day he would email Lynn to tell her that he now knew how a flattened frog on the road felt.

Paul and I have sailed together, laughed together and driven ribs together. I will miss him. The sailing community in Hamble has lost a great supporter and friend. There is an empty space where Paul's Pilates mat should lie.

Wherever he has gone, I hope that they appreciate his sense of humour.

Last updated 10:29 on 17 May 2024

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