Dave Hawkins works on our shop floor and is a very active sailor, sailing Merlin Rockets. A true inspiration, Dave had his leg amputated below the knee a few years ago, but this has not stopped him enjoying his passion for sailing and he still races on a regular basis. Recently, Dave started working with blind sailors and through September 2017, most of his weekends will be spent at Cowes on the Isle of Wight, or in Windermere, as part of the coaching staff for the UK Blind Sailing Team. This is in preparation for the Blind Fleet Racing World Championships in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in the USA, from the 9th of September 2017.
We spoke to Dave to find out a bit more about the man behind the job:
Q –Tell us a bit more about your experience in the marine industry?
A – I’ve been sailing for all of my life really, ever since I was five or six. I have worked for a few different marine companies, before joining Barton about five years ago.
Q – What is your job role at Barton Marine and what does that involve?
A – I work on the shop floor in Production and spend my time assembling the Barton products. These include our range of Victory Wooden Blocks and Industrial Snatch Blocks, Track Systems, and High Load Eyes, amongst other products in the extensive range at Barton Marine. I also do bespoke rope splicing for some of our product lines.
Q – When did you join Barton Marine and how has your role changed since then?
A – I joined Barton around five years ago and the main changes to my job role have been related to the developments in Barton’s products. Each time Barton develops a new product we have to adjust to its methods of assembly – so we are always on our toes and learning, which is great!
Q – Tell us more about your hobby and how you got into it?
A – My stepfather was an avid sailor, as were the rest of my family, so I grew up surrounded by the marine lifestyle and loved it from an early age. As I grew up, I competed in various sailing competitions with my friends, including the Fireball World Championships, B14 World Championships and many Merlin Rocket Championships, and enjoyed every minute of them! I couldn’t imagine it not being part of my everyday life – despite my accident.
Q – What made you want to get involved with blind sailing teams?
A – After being involved in an accident several years ago and having my leg amputated in 2013, I have been able to continue my love for the sport through Paralympic sailing. Understandably, I have a very personal connection with it. My friend, Lucy Hodges, who also works with blind sailors, introduced me to the teams and I was instantly keen to get involved and help them experience this great sport!
Q – What is your goal for the World Blind Championships this year?
A – We want to get the best result possible for our team! This could be medals or simply the experience, but most importantly, we want to grow their confidence and allow them to experience the thrill of a sailing championship!
Q – What else do you do in your spare time?
A – Spare time? Well! Whenever I get the chance, I like to keep in shape by going to the gym and I am starting to really get into cycling. Aside from sports and exercise, I’ve been working on my house recently, so there’s never a dull moment in my life!
A big thanks to Dave for this interview and we all wish the UK Blind Sailing Team the best of luck in the World Championships!