Ayrshire yacht marina boss hands over the wheel after three decades of service

A well-known boss at Largs Yacht Haven is stepping down from day-to-day duties after 35 years of loyal service.

Navy director Carolyn Elder said it was an honor to have taken the reins and spoke of her pride at three decades of service.

She joined Largs Yacht Haven in 1987 and helped Yacht Havens Group to develop the site from initial proposals into a thriving boating community on the west coast of Scotland.

It is now Scotland’s largest marina, home to more than 700 berth holders, and supporting employment for more than 100 full-time jobs.

During her time, Carolyn took on a number of additional roles locally to drive marine tourism and trade for the Ayrshire area.

This included being the president of the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce and working with yacht clubs and classes to develop Largs Yacht Haven as a host to national and international sailing events.

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She is also part of the local committee which manages the Largs Regatta Festival and Fife Regatta.

Carolyn said: “It’s been an honor to have managed Largs Yacht Haven for so many years. I’m so grateful that the Kalis family [owners of Yacht Havens Group] entrusted me with developing Largs Yacht Haven and I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to achieve together.

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“During this time, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful characters, colleagues and companies from around the world.

“I will treasure the memories of welcoming members of the Royal Family to Largs Yacht Haven, hosting the wonderful Fife Regattas and winning UK Marina of The Year in 2017.

“Establishing the new clubhouse and events center for Largs Sailing Club in 1999 would be one of my proudest accomplishments.

“The facility, supported by a Sport Scotland grant, allowed us to bring national and international events to Largs, bringing with it benefits for the wider economy, as well as providing an RYA Center of Excellence for the Scottish sailing community.”

Yacht Havens Group managing director Dylan Kalis said: “Carolyn has spearheaded the development of Largs Yacht Haven for over 30 years, making it the finest boating location in Scotland and a thriving nautical centre.

“We’re so grateful for Carolyn’s outstanding dedication to the company and we were delighted when she accepted the invitation to join the group’s board of directors in 2013.

“What’s more, her contribution to the wider Ayrshire economy cannot be overlooked. Carolyn has brought events, businesses, tourism and, most importantly, jobs to this part of Ayrshire.”

Carolyn will remain as a Yacht Havens Group director, taking on a new role providing operational support to the group’s nine marinas around the UK and the Netherlands – as well as spending more time on her 8.5m sailing yacht, Wavelength.

Taking the reins as marina manager at Largs Yacht Haven will be Dave Hewitt.

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He joined the company in 1999, becoming the assistant manager in recent years, as well as completing the professional Advanced Marine Manager (AMM) qualification.

Mr Hewitt is a long-standing member of the Largs RNLI team and is the station mechanic for their B Class lifeboat.

John Stewart will step up into the assistant marine manager role.

He joined Largs Yacht Haven in 2002 working as a hoist driver in the boat yard before becoming a haven master and completing his Intermediate Marina Manager (IMM) qualification.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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