Take Five… with Lord Irvine Laidlaw

Lord Laidlaw on a boat

Lord Irvine Laidlaw

A quick catch up with this adventurous superyacht owner reveals his favourite destinations and his philanthropic efforts.

Lord Irvine Laidlaw only got into boating in his thirties, but he’s certainly making up for lost time. Now in his seventies, the Scottish businessman owns multiple yachts and superyachts, including his beloved Lady Christine, named after his wife. Superyacht Life caught up with him fresh off the boat after his latest trip to Myanmar.

On sailing

“I didn’t start sailing until my thirties. I was working incredibly hard and needed to take some time out to relax. To do that, I needed to find something that was totally absorbing, that wouldn’t allow me to start thinking about business. I find that in sailing. I learnt a little in the Solent, but I’m also a little bit self-taught and improved through lots of mistakes. For people considering buying a yacht, I always recommend that they charter first – this will tell them what kind of boat they want, what size is right and everything else. I’d say to charter at least two or three times on different size boats and to different places.”

On Destinations

"Motorboats are so relaxing and they enable you to travel to places you’d not otherwise go to. Alaska is one of the most memorable places I’ve been to on a yacht – I’ve done it twice and both times it was absolutely stunning. More seals than you can imagine, bears eating salmon, little fishing villages tucked away in bays – it’s a wonderful place. The other memorable trips have been to French Polynesia, which was fantastic and the Falkland Islands. Raja Ampat is yet another."

On Plastics

"There is much more plastic showing up on beaches than there used to be. We went ashore to many of the beaches in Myanmar and much of the time the top edge of the beach was lined with plastic – bottles and bags. I am totally in favour of doing everything possible to limit the amount of plastic we use. There are substitutes. Kenya has just banned plastic bags, and in Rwanda, where I am doing some work at the moment, no plastic bags are allowed in the country at all. There’s two African nations showing the way – charging 5p like we do in England doesn’t do it."

On Philanthropy

"My charity work is based around education. I was lucky and had pushy, or should I say, inspiring parents and got a good education. A lot of people don’t have that opportunity. I set up the Laidlaw Schools Trust back in 2004 and then Laidlaw Scholars six years ago. Those are two of my major projects although I also have a scholarship fund at Columbia Business School, where I studied. I find it enormously rewarding to think you can change the fates of these young people and help them to do things with their lives that they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do."

On The Last Trip

"We’ve just come back from eight days in Myanmar on Lady Christine. We encountered only one other boat – a 100-foot sail boat called Asia which charters out there. There is zero development really, essentially it’s all little islands, pretty sandy beaches and jungle, although we did go into one of the villages. Your days are spent walking along the beach, snorkeling, swimming and enjoying the scenery."

Dominique Afacan
Dominique Afacan
Dominique writes about all things luxury for Forbes.com, Condé Nast Traveller, Boat International and many more. Since joining the superyachting world, she's raced at the St Barths Bucket, kissed the America's Cup in Bermuda and taken a polar plunge in Antarctica.