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77


James Dodd CHAIRMAN OF DART HARBOUR BOARD


A


love of sailing launched James Dodd’s lifelong relationship with the


beautiful River Dart, a connection which continues today in his role as chairman of Dart Harbour board.


James began sailing when he


moved to Dartmouth with his family as a youngster, a hobby which led him to work as a professional yacht skipper in the ‘90s. Later he chaired the Joint Regatta


Sailing Committee for Dartmouth Royal Regatta’s sailing week, and in 2016 went on to become both the commodore of Dittisham Sailing Club and join the board of Dart Harbour and Navigation Authority. Since becoming a board member, James has helped


resurrect the Dart Estuary Forum which focuses on environmental issues in the eight-mile stretch of river between Dartmouth and Totnes. In 2020 he was elected chairman and found himself somewhat thrown into the deep end as it was the same year the former chairman resigned, along with a fellow board member and the former harbourmaster, Mark Cooper – an unsettling period that also included the onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic, something which has had repercussions on the business of managing the River Dart ever since. But with his ability to see the bigger picture and extract the best from his team, James has continued to lead a steady ship through these setbacks. James explained: “In 2016, I had come to the end


of a three-year term as chairman of the Joint Regatta Sailing Committee when a friend suggested I should try to become a board member of Dart Harbour. “During my interview I was asked what I wanted


to achieve and my reply was that I considered that we were all caretakers of the river during its long evolutionary path, and that I would be happy to leave


Interview by Ginny Farrell


it slightly better than I had found it but had no particular goal or project in mind - so no axe to grind. “I feel the same way today.” James continued: “Originally I


was asked to be the focal point for environmental issues, which I found very interesting, but which required a great deal of research and self- education. “In this capacity, and together with the harbourmaster, and Nigel Mortimer of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty office, we resurrected the Dart Estuary Forum and have since put all things environmental to the fore in Dart Harbour planning and


consideration. “I was also elected to be the vice chair in 2017, and then the chairman early in 2019.” When asked about the skills he brought to the table,


James responded: “It is always a difficult question but I try to think logically, be open to alternative views and see the bigger picture. “I also strive to be a good team leader and can usually draw disparate characters to work together in a common cause. “As the chairman, my role is to


“As the chairman,


my role is to provide leadership and direction”


provide leadership and direction, drawing on the wealth of skills, knowledge and experience embedded in my fellow board members.” He added: “As a board we now


review our overall skill set annually and seek to fill any perceived gaps at the next round of recruitment. “This methodology is now common practice for


modern boards and has replaced representational membership that was the model of days gone by.” To understand the role of the board one must first understand the nature of the authority, said James. As a Statutory Harbour Authority established via an


Act of Parliament, Dart Harbour is what’s known as a Trust Port.


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