Getting to know Sylvia Driver: An interview
Come read an exclusive interview from a co-founder of Horizon Yacht Sales, Sylvia Driver. Sylvia Driver has a tone of history with the BVI, a grand love for sailing, and endless tails of life at sea!
Where were you born? I was born in Yorkshire in the UK, but have been living in the BVI since 1985. The BVI is definitely home!
Where was school and what did you like best? I remember school, it was something I had to do before I started working. I’m not sure I was a great student and when I left at 16 I think everyone was happy! I did enjoy business management and accounting in college and also the hospitality industry … and ran my own business in a restaurant/pub in Cornwall 3 years before I left UK to sail around the world and never went back!
When did you learn to sail? I lived next to the ocean in various places in the UK and love the sea and I love being on boats of all shapes and sizes, in fact I arrived in the BVI on a 45ft Halberg Rassey back in 1985, and have been on and off boats all my life.
What was next? Back in the day we navigated using a sextant, no such thing as GPS back then, and luckily we landed where we expected to. I fell in love with the BVI; the natural beauty of the islands and the friendly people. So I decided to stay … it was Winter in the UK at the time, so I didn’t need much enticement!
Initially I managed the Sugar Mill Hotel and that continued through until 1992. I had two kids during this time, Chris and Kayleigh, so was pretty busy. Then it was back to the sailing world and I opened my first charter company in Nanny Cay, great fun but eventually sold it in 1996.
I then became Financial Controller of the merger between Sun Yachts, Stardust and Sunsail. I met Tubes (Andrew Thompson, my business partner) there as well and we decided we should run our own Charter business. In 1998 we set up Horizon and the rest, as they say, is history.
So much has changed in sailing over the years, and mostly for the good. Back in the day, our guests simply sailed around the islands, there were no fancy bells and whistles and once they left the dock and were out of direct line of the VHF mast they were gone. The boats had ice boxes and sails and life was very simple …. no cell phones!
These days yachting as a whole has become a lot more sophisticated, and consequently we offer a much higher level of service now and of course the boats are far more developed. Today, you are more likely to find all the comfort and amenities of a high-quality hotel on the yachts, and sometimes more!
Secretly I think I miss some of that early simplicity, but equally the comfort and performance of today’s yachts is exceptional. Plus, the expectations of both guests and owners have risen as well. When we spec new yachts for the boats shows and potential buyers we can individually tailor yachts to owners’ wishes and optimize them to give a great charter experience.
I’ve met a wide variety of people from inside and outside our industry, been to any number of the big boat shows over the last two decades, and I know what makes a great charter yacht and the ultimate charterer experience. Hopefully I will get to share this with people at the next show, and share my love of sailing and especially the BVI too.
Outside of work I am a bit of a conservationist, leatherback turtles especially. I love gardening and grow all my own tropical fruit and veg and I make my own muesli, which I am told is “the best”. But don’t get me wrong I love going out, I am partial to good food and do tend to like a party!
I do love the BVI and every day I am grateful for living in such a wonderful place. It never gets old.
Favourite rum drink: Diplomatico is my favourite rum, but really I’m a red wine drinker.
Nickname: Always been Sylv!
Most interesting person you have met? Austin Freeman, he’s a local Customs Officer who does Turtle research and conservation. We call him the Turtle Whisperer. He’s amazing and knows each one by name, and yes, there is one called Sylvia.
Pets: My rescue dog Sonny and rescue cat Millie.
Pet hates? People who trash the environment!
Best claim to fame? Robert Plant came to stay at the Sugar Mill Hotel, and I had no idea who he was until I took him and his wife to a local spot with live music and people started asking for his autograph!!!
What are you most proud of? My kids, my family and my friends
Three words to sum up living in the Caribbean: Live. Love. Laugh
Like to know more about Sylvia Driver? Get in contact with Horizon today. No matter the query, our staff are always happy to help. Sylvia Driver is one of the many great individuals behind the Horizon team, helping you find the charter of your dreams and sail the Caribbean in style.