Meet Head of Instruction at OCSC: Tom Prior

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An Interview with Head of Instruction Tom Prior

OCSC: What drew you to working at OCSC? Or what do you like about working at OCSC?

TP: The fantastic reputation, and after visiting and meeting Rich (Jepsen) I was completely taken by OCSC’s approach to teaching sailing; the members club with terrific instruction, great facilities and a beautiful but challenging part of SF Bay, and the wealth of skill and experience amongst the instructors.

OCSC: What is your sailing background?

TP:I first discovered sailing in Swansea, Wales, while studying nearby in Cardiff for my first degree (Marine Technology). I initially learnt to sail on laser dinghies, before getting into ‘big boat’ sailing with the Royal Navy when attending naval college. I developed a ‘taste’ for offshore racing and was hooked! Over the next 15+ years, life and career was busy. I sailed mainly in vacations and (too) infrequently at weekends, sailing with friends, racing when I could, experiencing the cold and windy UK waters, as well as the more pleasant warmer conditions of the Mediterranean sailing in France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Sardinia, and Corsica.

After a career break in 2006 – spent sailing and travelling with my wife, I realized I wanted to keep sailing. I completed my RYA Yachtmaster and Instructor certifications and after moving to the US started working with OCSC part-time in 2007. I spent the 2008 summer season in Greece teaching week-long RYA Competent Crew and Day-Skipper courses on a Bostrum 37. Now, as well as working for OCSC, I do deliveries and work as a marine surveyor. Over the last three years I have sailed over 15000 miles on deliveries, ocean races and cruising, and I’m always learning!

OCSC: Why do you sail?

TP: I love the freedom and the challenge of harnessing the elements to make progress. I enjoy the social side sailing with others, seeing their enjoyment and satisfaction, and having fun on the boat. I enjoy both the fun of day sailing and the challenges of extended passage making. I believe that we must push ourselves in life, and sailing offers that ‘out of the comfort zone’ experience, whether in the Bay on a windy afternoon or out in the ocean.

OCSC: When you’re not sailing, what can we find you doing?

TP: Reading about sailing and boats and ……. ! Spending time with my wife or friends, playing tennis, swimming, working out, and perennially trying to figure out the problems on my own sail boat!

OCSC: What are your top five sailing books of all time?

TP:Tough! I guess the following have to be there based on the number of times I have read them!

  • The Brendan Voyage (Tim Severin)
  • A Voyage of Madmen (Peter Nichols)
  • A Voyage of Madmen (Peter Nichols)
  • Fatal Storm – The 54th Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race (Rob Mundle)
  • The Patrick Obrien series of ‘Master and Commander’ books. A real insight into the old days of sail. (Cheating, I know as it’s a series of books!)
  • The Voyage of the Beagle (Diary of Charles Darwin)