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Image credit Mark Jardine: Yachtsandyachting.com

Harken exclusive interview with sailor Nick Craig at the 2014 RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show

6/3/2014

Sailor: Nick Craig
Event: Dinghy Show Interview
Date: Saturday 1st March 2014
Interviewer: Paul Davis

CLICK HERE to view the video

Harken sponsored sailor Nick Craig, stopped by at this years’ Dinghy Show to catch up with Harken’s Paul Davis for an exclusive interview. Thanks to YachtandYachting.com for providing the videography, here’s what he had to say.

Paul: Who taught you to sail and what inspired you to get into sailing?

Nick: Well it was my Dad really. He had a boat down at Frensham Pond and took me out in that when I first sailed. Then I got into the Cadet fleet which was fantastic, and still is! They get really big turn outs and lots of organised training.

That’s how I caught the bug. I must admit the first six months of it I kind of didn’t like it, I preferred playing football as I didn’t get what was going on. Then after six months I got to understand a bit of it, got addicted to it and kept going from there. I got into the Cadet circuit, did lots of events and that got me hooked!

Paul: When did you start using Harken hardware on your boats?

Nick: I’ve used Harken for a long time. I’ve always felt it’s the most robust and reliable kit. So I guess I’ve been using it twenty years or so, showing my age, so yeah a while!

Paul: What’s the toughest sailing experience you’ve ever been through and what did it teach you?

Nick: The toughest experience I’ve had was Finn sailing, both physically and because of the standard, sailing in an Olympic fleet and against people who are better and more talented than you, having come through from a very young age.

As an amateur that was really hard. It just taught me there was another level on starting, another level on approach and focus and probably another three levels on fitness. It just brought home all those things and made me raise my game in those areas which helped my amateur sailing a lot. It was tough but a really good experience. 

Paul: Your results have been consistently enviable, congratulations!  What’s your secret to going faster?

Nick: It’s not a secret, just a lot of time on the water. I think quality time is important as well, so when I’m out sailing or racing I’m always trying to think of new things, trying to learn something new, trying to get something out of that day to move things on. When I’m racing I’m always just looking to sail in the biggest and best fleets possible because that’s how you learn, sailing against people that are better than you.

Paul: Do you have any pre-race rituals?

Nick: I try not to have rituals as such as I think if you have a superstition or that kind of thing there’s a danger that if you can’t do it you’re then blowing your day. But I certainly have a set of processes I’ll go through. At some of the smaller events I’m not always organised enough but at the bigger ones I’ll try and get out early and gather lots of information. Then I’ll have a series of processes I’ll go through at certain times, I’ll be on to transits and start line bias. I’ll have a set of processes all the way through to the start and after the start.

Paul: Are there any products you recommend for keeping your boat in top condition and race ready?

Nick: I must admit boat maintenance isn’t my strength. So my main products are a good crew and a good boat builder to help keep me on the water.

I think the thing with the Harken kit is that it’s so well made you don’t have to change things much which is what I like as I’m not a boat maintenance man.

Paul: Do you have any particular goals for 2014?

Nick: Most of my time will be in a D-One and a Merlin. We just about won those last year and I think defending a title is a lot harder than winning it first time, so they will be good challenges.

Then it’s back in the RS400 for the 20 year nationals at Mount Bay which is a fantastic venue for sailing and for the family, so I’m looking forward to all of those.

Paul: What’s your funniest sailing moment?

Nick: Funniest for me was that I’d just met my (now) wife, we were doing an open at Tynemouth. It was quite windy with an offshore wind and she was kind of sceptical about whether we wanted to go out. We had just launched and then this massive gust and a squall came down, I held the boat because she was quite nervous and I could barely hold it as it was that windy! I wasn’t letting on that I was just able to hold it, she’d say “are you sure this is alright?” and I would answer “yes it’s absolutely fine!”

Then we got out and we’d just cleared a cliff, the wind came down with another gust and there was a bang and we just wiped out! We had actually sheered the centre board off, bent the mast and sheered the rudder all in one gust!

So she had to be lifted off with the rescue boat as I hung onto the bottom of the boat. So it was pretty funny with hindsight, I realised then she had a pretty good sense of humour, she wouldn’t hate me for it!

Paul: What advice do you have for young dinghy racing hopefuls?

Nick: Go out and do as much sailing in as many different fleets as you can. Get as much variety of experience as you can and try not to stick to one boat. Every time I’ve sailed in a different boat I’ve learnt something new. Do different types of sailing, I’ve done a few years of team racing and that’s been hugely valuable.

Most importantly just go out and have fun! Go with what boats you like and enjoy it!

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