Member Spotlight: Mark Richards
Mark Richards got his first taste of sailing while he was still in school in the UK. He started out sailing yachts, and liked it so much that he went on to obtain a Yachtmaster certificate, so that he could “sail and charter anywhere in the world”.
These days, Mark is based in Singapore; his work sees him advising companies in the high-tech, manufacturing, commercial, transport, health and education, retail and leisure, and hospitality industries on how to better manage their costs, programmes, projects and developments.
He keeps a beautiful 39-foot sailing catamaran moored at ONE°15 Marina for when he gets time off from work. The sea calls to him, which is why the all-in-one package that the Club presented was so attractive from the start.
“I was visiting friends here, partly because I was looking to live on Sentosa,” Mark shares. “We were seated at Kith Café at Sentosa Cove (which unfortunately no longer exists), overlooking all the boats in the marina, and I thought, ‘Wow, it’d be nice to have a boat there.’”
It turned out that getting a membership was a pretty straightforward process, as it was purchasing his Lagoon catamaran. “The boat was here, it had a mooring which I was able to take, and this looked like a great club.”
Being able to sail his own boat and enjoy the freedom of the sea is clearly the main draw, but Mark is also quite specific about the things he appreciates about the Club.
“It’s got great facilities, first for the boats, and then you’ve got the swimming pool and the Club facilities. It’s just very convenient. The marina might look a little crowded but that’s because it’s now at full capacity—it’s really very well laid out. Plus it’s well-kept; everything works, as do most things in Singapore. You wouldn’t get this sort of standard at marinas in the Mediterranean. It’s a great place to be.”
Mark’s flying solo most of the time because his family is still living in the UK so he mainly spends his free time sailing.
“I am usually with friends on the weekend. We come down to the boat, go out for a day sail around Singapore–maybe to St John’s, where we might moor up at the beach and have a barbecue and a few drinks–and then come back to the Club in the evening. We also often go down south to Changi Sailing Club for a small staycation.”
“The Marina is very well laid out. Plus it’s very well kept; everything works… You won’t get this sort of standard at marinas in the Mediterranean.”
That brings our conversation to two pertinent concerns: Singapore’s limited territorial waters and her sheltered-harbour reputation. Mark is pretty sanguine about both, however.
“You can’t go far without leaving Singapore waters. If you do, you have to get port clearance— but that’s not difficult, we just have to apply three days in advance. From here, though, there are lots of places you can go. Batam, Bintan, and Phuket are about three or four hours’ sail away. We’ve done that quite often. I once made a 20-hour sail to Tioman with friends, in a total of six or seven boats.”
Mark feels that although many people complain about the lack of challenges afforded by Singapore’s sheltered waters and how that makes the sport less exciting, there are ways to derive enjoyment from what you have. He is also enthusiastic about the growing interest in sailing that he observes.
“It’s quite nice to see how boating is now so accessible. People tend to view yacht clubs as very exclusive, and catering only to the mega rich, but we’re seeing so many different groups coming in on the weekends to use the facilities. I think that’s great, because it introduces many more people to the joys of boating.”
Asked what makes him happiest about being a Member here, Mark smiles and says: “Just being able to go out with friends to St John’s Island and have a barbecue, with everybody just being so relaxed.
“Every time I come back here, to the boat, I think, ‘Wow, this is incredible,’ and I just pinch myself to make sure that this is real, because it really is just so nice.”