Meet the Team: James Roy, Marina Director
At ONE°15 Marina Sentosa Cove on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, tranquility prevails. Glossy yachts are berthed in the calm waters and guests can be seen ambling unhurriedly around the club. Seated across from me is James Roy, the very man who ensures that the marina runs like clockwork.
“I’ve seen the yachting industry evolve tremendously over the last two decades. When I was growing up, a marina was just a place to park your boat. You did everything yourself, from berthing to maintaining it. Now, we provide help and support. We don’t just fulfill specific requests; we offer value-added service. It’s much closer to being a hotel than just a marina,” he shared.
Born To Sail
James speaks from personal experience. Born in Lymington, a small town in England famous for yachting, the ocean is in his bloodline. His father was a naval architect, his mother worked for a ferry company and his grandfather was a shipwright. He started sailing as soon as he could walk, and learnt how to sail by himself at the age of five.
The 42-year-old once dabbled in competitive sailing himself, winning a few races, including the New York Yacht Trophy from the South Coast of England for laser sailing in the early 1990s. However, the marina director is not just a sailor; he is a true yachting insider.
While his peers were collecting pocket money from their parents, he had started his own yacht services company at the age of 15. After school each day, the enterprising teenager would go from marina to marina, maintaining, polishing, cleaning and moving 15 different boats. His business flourished to a point where he had no option but to employ local part-timers to help with the workload.
After he sold his service contracts, he sailed around Europe and North America as a crew member. Over the next two decades, he worked as a commissioning engineer, sail-maker and charter captain until 2008. He then relocated to the Middle East to work as a marina manager in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. The insights he gained from these diverse roles cannot simply be gleaned from the best marina management courses in the world.
“Boating is exciting because you never know what can happen,” he added. “You could encounter horrible weather or your engines could stop working. You can’t just say, “I give up. I’m going home for a cup of tea.”
There is no clocking off until you get to your marina destination. That is why a good marina triggers a ‘switch-off-mechanism’ in boaters. Once they park, they should have peace of mind. Our goal is to provide good service so that they can actually ‘switch off’.”
Love for the Ocean
Another reason his current role is particularly fulfilling for James is his deep love for the ocean.
“One of my most beautiful memories is seeing the northern lights from my boat in the Arctic Circle, reflected off water and ice. Because there is zero light pollution there, I could see all the stars and the Milky Way. You don’t realise how much light pollution comes from buildings until you actually get away from them,” he added.
He also loves meeting like-minded people at the Club.
“I like that boaters here are very passionate about their vessels. That is something I missed when I was in the Middle East—you don’t get people with that sort of attachment to their boats. It was more of a status symbol; a necessary luxury item. Here, boaters are doing it because they want to do it, not because they feel the need to do it.”