It seems that a passion for sailing really does run through the blood. Jane Cumbley’s son, Charlie has come up through the club and gone on to many great and wonderful things. Here is a brief Q&A with Charlie, which he managed to do while juggling several other things all at the same time!
Q: What inspired you to commit to the level you have to sailing?
A: I think there is a few elements to this, growing up i was always a bit of a sailing ‘geek’ .I loved reading books about the America’s Cup or other ‘big’ yacht racing events, but in reality although i was part of a family who loved sailing and yacht racing i didnt really pick up the doing side of it that early, but i soon learnt to love it, whenever i could get on the water i would. There was also an element of luck and being in the right place at the right time, for example I started Finn sailing just as lottery funding kicked in to create a British Squad, this created a much more organised program, coaching, events etc etc. It also tied in with sailing & training against some of the best sailors in world, Iain Percy, Andrew Simpson, Ben Ainslie, a real golden era of talent and i was just trying to hold onto their coat tails. luckily they were, and still are, head and shoulders above nearly all of the professional sailing world so that got me somewhere! As in business quite often success breeds success, and i guess winning becomes an addiction, its that addiction that continues to make me strive to get better every time i sail and i probably try and get involved in the toughest fleets just so i can learn from other top sailors.
Q: What was your greatest race that you took part in – and why?
A: Just last year when we won our first race together as a team at the Etchells worlds in San Francisco was one of the best, it was the last race of the series and was probably the most perfect race i have ever done, as pro tactician on the boat i was responsible for getting the boat setup – rig and trim wise, pointing in the right direction and managing the amateur co-owners i sailed with. From the get go we nailed the start and led all the way around against a fleet of the worlds top sailors to win a hard fought race, that was perfection.
Q: What advice would you give to any young sailors wanting to get serious about the sport?
A: They have to genuinely love doing it, if they dont it will end up as just a chore and they will never achieve what they want to, i see and hear of so many kids who get trucked around by parents looking to live their sailing dreams through their offspring that when the kids finally get old enough they just tell the parents they dont really enjoy it as they have been pushed to do it rather than actually loving it so there ends another sailor…..apart from this just get involved with as much variety of sailing as they can and seek out the genuinely good sailors and learn from them, whilst being beware of the bar talk sailors who confidently sound like the worlds best sail trimmer but in reality couldnt trim a hedge!
Q: Do you have any lessor-known tips for Solo racing sailors?
A: As a rule of thumb every time i do a coaching day for singlehanders the most common misconception is that once its windy and you are fully powered up you need to make the sail fuller to go faster through the water upwind, wrong, its the opposite. you need to make the sail flatter so there is less drag and less heeling moment, and the reason the guys at the front make it look easy is that they have flattened the sail to make it easier.