John Downey

John is the Principal and one of the founding members of Sentient Blue. His sound grasp of both fluid dynamic and engineering principles allow John to keep the more talented (and qualified!) members of the team grounded and focused on the task of producing a very fast, but sailable C Class. His involvement in many projects during his career enables him to provide a tight focus on the management of this complex project.

John learnt to fly in 1966 on a RAF scholarship while still at school….obtained flying licence before driving licence! Joined BOAC in 1970, flying the VC10, becoming a BA pilot in 1974 when BOAC and BEA merged to form British Airways. John moved onto the 747 in 1976 and Concorde in 1986. He was promoted to Captain on the DC-10, then the 747-400, finishing his BA career on the 777. He was a project pilot in the early 90s, becoming Flight Manager and TRE Instructor on the 747-400 Fleet.

After retirement from BA, John joined Etihad Airways to help start up their 777Fleet. During his time at Etihad, he has been Head of Safety, Chief Pilot 777 and now Chief Pilot for the 787 programme.

John learnt to sail while at school, but his sailing interest didn’t really get going until he was introduced to catamaran sailing by a friend. He was Tornado National Champion in 1976 and 1984….top UK boat in the LA pre-Olympics, but missed out on selection at Weymouth.

In 1987, he helmed the first UK wing-rigged C Class in an unsuccessful challenge in Australia.

Unable to continue with a further challenge, he agreed to sail the Worrell 1000 (a crazy 1000 mile race from Ft Lauderdale in Florida to Virginia Beach) coming second. Proving his doubtful sanity, he repeated the event a year later, suffering a boat breakdown, but still finishing.

Becoming involved with the Invictus Team in the late 90’s, he assisted in both the 2004 and 2010 I4C. This really re-kindled his passion and desire to do things his way…..teaming up with 2 like-minded friends, Sentient Blue became a reality.

John was brought up in Shoreham-by-Sea and had seen the Peter Shaw/Rod March C Class Thunder as a young lad….his passion for the C Class started then.

His time in Invictus, a very large team, really re-started John’s passion for the challenge, but also his desire to keep things small and focussed.

Everything you can imagine is real.
Pablo Picasso