Sailing By

By Hannah Wallace October 31, 2006

Like many New Zealanders, John Proctor has sailed since his father bought him his first boat, a seven-foot, single-sail P Class, at the age of eight. He brought his love for the sport with him when he moved to Sarasota 26 years ago and founded his business, Southern Cross Contracting, eight years later.

Proctor named his commercial construction company for the astronomical reference that is to the Southern hemisphere what the North Star is to the northern.

An avid member of the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Proctor served as rear commodore for three years and often volunteers his time for regattas and coaching the youth program.

Proctor sailed throughout his childhood in Auckland. After four years in boarding school in the town of Wanganui, he did what most young New Zealanders do before college and headed to Australia, where he lived for 10 years in Sydney. That first P-Class was followed by a 14-foot Hobie Cat, and, after he moved to Sarasota, with 16- and 18-foot Hobie Cats, a Morgan Out Island 33, and now, two Lasers and an SR21, a racing boat he owns with two friends. Although he says he now lives much of the adventurous sailing life vicariously through his son Josh, Proctor still gets out on the water every third weekend at least.

And sailing has taught Proctor a thing or two about ethics, business and life in general. "Sailing teaches you manners," he says. "A lot of times, it's just you. You can decide if you want to yield. You can violate rules, or you can choose to do the right thing. And you know when you're doing something right, or something wrong. It's genteel. Sailing epitomizes that."

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