Duncan Salmon

I have worked as a solicitor my entire career. I began my journey in 1979 with a law firm called Campbell Hooper, which through mergers later became Charles Russell Speechlys. I was a partner there until 2022 when I semi-retired. Although I continue to work as a consultant, my focus is now on my other interests and enjoying my newfound freedom.

Aside from spending time with my wife and children, who are now grown up, my lifetime passion is sailing. I started sailing with my dad when I was 11 years old, and I have continued to sail ever since. We have sailed both big boats and dinghies, and sailing has been a large part of my life.

As an example of my focus on my sailing life, one of the reasons I chose to read law at Exeter University, was because of its proximity to Exmouth Sailing Club, which at the time was the centre for sailing the class of dinghy I race. My wife has been very generous in understanding how important sailing is to me, so every Sunday, I would go sailing, and Saturdays were reserved for family time. It has helped that since she was 14, my daughter has sailed with me! I have always found sailing to be a wonderful escape from everything else that is happening, and Harriet and I have had some wonderful adventures together sailing around the country.

I sail a 14-foot dinghy called a Merlin Rocket, with my home club currently Fishers Green near Waltham Abbey, as my long-time club, Wembley Sailing Club on the Welsh Harp, is currently drained for repairs to the dam. I also sail a Laser dinghy, which is single-handed, and a Salcombe Yawl, a traditional boat based on a 19th-century fishing vessel. As might be expected the Salcombe Yawl is based in Salcombe, Devon, where I am a member of Salcombe Yacht Club. We race both the Yawl and Merlin at Salcombe.



Salcombe is a stunning location for sailing. It is a ria, or flooded river valley, that has three main tributaries flowing into it. This makes for an ideal place for sailing, with breathtaking scenery and challenging racing. When the sun is shining, I think it is hard to find a better place in the world to sail. Apart from Salcombe, I also enjoy racing the Merlin around a national circuit in places as diverse as Shoreham on the south coast, Ranelagh on the Thames, Lowestoft on the east coast, and reservoirs like Grafham Water and Rutland Water in the Midlands.

One of the great aspects of sailing Merlins, is that world-class sailors including Olympians, race the boats. I think this makes the racing, in which club level sailors compete alongside the world’s best, rather unique compared to most other sports. For instance, Stu Blithel, a gold medallist at the Tokyo Olympics, races at Salcombe Merlin Week and we actually beat him in a race the year before last! He is a much better sailor than me but the variables of the wind, current and all the other boats on the racecourse mean when the stars align we can finish ahead.

As can be gathered, sailing has always given me a great deal of pleasure. I have always enjoyed the camaraderie and now I am retired there is more time to spend on it. In each of the clubs and classes of boat I sail, we have a WhatsApp group, to share information and get racing organised. This has opened new connections but also keeps me in touch with people that I’ve been sailing with since I was a teenager, now coming along with their own children.

I have always thought that sailing is a fun and accessible activity that keeps you fit while enjoying the great outdoors. If anyone is interested in giving sailing a try, most sailing clubs like Wembley and Fishers Green offer training programmes and have club boats to borrow. On Sunday mornings during the spring and summer, people of all ages sign up for sailing lessons at Wembley. Learning the basics of dinghy sailing is relatively quick and easy. Alternatively, you can join a crew if you prefer to sail on larger boats.

My view for this stage in life is to find a hobby that suits your environment, meets your desire for spending time outdoors, and fits your lifestyle. The winter series has just finished, and I am looking forward to warmer weather racing this spring and summer!

Circle Square Member Q&A

What 3 words best describe you? Post-retirement: content, relaxed and (trying against the background of depressing world news to be) optimistic.

If you could offer your younger self one piece of advice, what would that be? Try and work out the stuff that is worth worrying about, because most of it is not.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? My marriage and our children.

Which person (dead or alive) would you most like to invite to dinner?  Sir Francis Drake so he could tell me about his battles against the Spanish Armada and his circumnavigation of the world.

How has age strengthened your advantage?  Perspective.

What inspired you to join Circle Square?I did the Planning Your Next Chapter programme and found that really helpful.

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