|From boats to Formula 1 and back again|
first met Peter Taylor on Sansiri Windstar, Ging Patinyakorn Buranrom's Tripp40 during a Sunday race organized by the Ao Chalong Yacht Club. I was very surprised when he said he retired after working in Formula 1. I thought sailing must have been a hobby for him then until I got to know him better, learning about his sailing skills and boat building expertise and finally asked him how a composite expert coming from boat building went into Formula 1 racing. Peter started a boat builder's apprenticeship in his hometown of Salcombe, England, before acquiring his own boatyard to build racing and cruising yachts and changing the construction of Olympic Finns from wood to composite.
Finns are a passion for Peter and in 1975 he built his first pre-preg Olympic Finn. When Chris Law and David Howlett dominated Finn sailing worldwide in the golden years of 1975-76 Peter Taylor became world famous for his composite Finns.
After building Graham Walker's Indulgence in 1983, a British Admiral's Cup team member, he said that he had to diversify into motor racing because unfortunately at that time pre-preg composites were too expensive for the marine industry but the construction system was ideally suited for Formula 1. He was a visionary and Formula 1 gave him the opportunity to develop his skills in composite materials.
In 1988, he moved to Switzerland to develop pre-preg composites for Paucoplast AG where he became Technical Manager in 1991 responsible for the production and planning as well as material sourcing, for Group C and Formula 1 race cars for PP Sauber AG. At the time, Paucoplast was sole supplier of composite production parts for Sauber race cars.
He later transferred to working directly for the Sauber Formula 1 team in the same role. He retired from the Swiss F1 team in July 2011, having worked in the race team's composite department under the team names Red Bull Sauber, Sauber Petronas, BMW Sauber and finally Sauber Motorsport.
Formula 1 made Peter a composite expert but he never gave up his passion for sailing and continued his sailing on the Lake of Geneva whenever he had an opportunity and on the boat he built, of course!
He came to Southeast Asia to sail with a couple of friends and decided to return each year to benefit from the beautiful sailing grounds in Thailand as well as from temperatures, which are a lot higher than on the Lake of Geneva.
It was during a Phuket King's Cup Regatta that Peter discovered Mark Pescott's Firefly 850 One Design.
Back in 2005, Mark started building the Firefly 850 Sports catamarans in Phuket. The first two, Voodoo Child and Moto Inzi are still performing very well in the Asian Yachting Grand Prix regattas. Voodoo was the overall winner of the Firefly Division at the Phuket King's Cup Regatta 2014.
Racing aficionado Peter quickly decided to buy the Firefly 850 Catamaran plan to build his own in Phuket. Although a customized project, led by Peter, the construction remains overseen by Pescott, the boat's designer.
At the present time, the boat is ready to be sold and can be completed as a standard Firefly or as Firefly Elite with further design modifications including carbon beams and mast and modified bow.
Yes, Peter decided to sell his first Firefly 850 Catamaran, but who knows what he has in mind for his next project.
As we part after the visit to Taylor Composites Co. Ltd in Rawai, I can truly say that Peter is passionate about boat building and will never stop thriving to make them lighter and stiffer because as he says "that helps boats win races".It was a pleasure chatting with him about a passion we share, sailing!