Paul Rowan, Sad News

Paul Rowan

Curly Morris, GP14 Assocation President says

“It was with sadness that I learned of Paul Rowan’s death on Saturday 23rd January.

I have known Paul since I started to learn to sail in 1957 in Larne Lough. He was already an experienced and successful sailor at East Antrim Motorboat and Cruising Club (later shortened to East Antrim Boat Club). We learned to sail in Larne Sharpies, a twelve foot hard chine pre-war dinghy, weighing about 1/4 of a ton. By 1958 Paul had purchased the first of his eight GPI4s, No 605- Jason. It was not until 1960 and the building of my own boat that I raced against Paul. An intense rivalry grew between us sufficient to propel both of us to the top of the Irish Fleet over the next few years. This was not sufficient to prevent us working together on matters of mutual interest.

Paul Rowan, a true servant of the GP14 Class

Paul remained true to the GP14 Class throughout his sailing career and indeed beyond. He won his first Ulster Championship in 1965 (The Irish Championship only came into existence in 1969), his first Irish Championship in 1971, and then took the prestigious Helmsman’s Championship of Ireland in both 1984 and 1985, showing GP expertise could be successfully transferred to other Classes.

Although not many people knew it, and shortly before the introduction of the vaccine, Paul developed polio. Not seriously affected, it left the muscles of his left shoulder significantly weakened meaning centre sheeting was never an option for him – not that it ever seemed to be a disadvantage. Eventually, complications from this forced him to stop competing regularly, although he was still able to turn up to occasional events and win races in style.

He was a true servant to the GP14 Class, serving as treasurer for a number of years, and using his accounting skills to introduce a financial management system which lasted successfully for many years. The direct debiting system was also introduced by Paul – a novel innovation at the time, but a real benefit in retrospect. Class President was his ‘reward’, serving from 1982 to 1985. He then became one of our first Class Trustees.

As a Chartered Accountant, Paul had a distinguished career ending as Senior Partner in Price Waterhouse Coopers in Belfast, specialising in bankruptcies. He was to take part in the major inquiry for the Irish Government into the financial scandal involving corrupt payments to politicians in the Republic of Ireland, leading to the Mahon Report.

For a few years he took to the water back in EABC with two old GP friends and contemporaries in Des Nixon’s small cruiser – Graham Gingles, his crew in many of his greatest triumphs, being the another member. This group was known affectionately as the last of the summer wine. Paul and his wife Rosie (who he got into the front end of his GP14 long enough to win an Ulster Championship) moved to a residential care home in England in 2018 to be close to daughters Julie and Nicki. They celebrated their Golden wedding in March 2020. A regular procession of GP14 visitors made their way to visit them in their new abode, although Covid-19 precautions were to put an end to this.

Known throughout both the sailing and accountancy worlds he will be fondly remembered by many.”
Curly Morris

Ed: You may leave your own memories of Paul by adding a comment to this article.