Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Firstly congratulations on your recent success at the UK Nationals (3rd overall) and European Championships (1st).
You joined the class in January this year. You have had an incredible run of success including your 1st moth title of inland national champion. What do you make of it all?
CR > I’ve come in to the class and performed well this year and that was down to working hard and applying myself, understanding what it takes to win in the moth class however, at the same time, I am still very new to the boat and have a long way to go in terms of my boat handing and mastering the boat in a number of different conditions.
P. Now you’ve had time to reflect on the regatta, how did it go for you?
CR > In terms of sailing, I performed at my best. We could have done with more boats at the event ie. the Aussies etc. but otherwise it was a well organised event, well run and incredible as a social event.
P. What lessons if any did you come away with from the event?
CR > The moth class is not about going to an event and being 1% faster than someone else. It’s about minimising risk and having a safe and reliable product you can push 100%. Consistency is key. It was a high point scoring event looking at 2nd place onwards. I didn’t need to do anything risky on the last two days, no OCS or rule infringements. I aimed for top 5 results. Winning the races was a by product of people making mistakes around me as my goal was to sail safely and get the boat round the course.
P. How prepared for the event were you?
CR > Following the UK nationals, absolutely prepared. Physically, mentally and in terms of boat preparation. My result at the nationals made me realise I could perform at the top end of the fleet which gave a lot of confidence going in to the europeans.
P. You were able to perform consistently across the wind range with almost straight bullets, from marginal foiling to big breeze. Was there anything in particular that helped with this consistency?
CR > Boat speed and my starting was good, I made good decisions in terms of my fleet positioning which allowed me to not take any big risks and not split too far from the fleet.
P. At the nationals you complained of a knee injury and in the lead up to the Europeans you mentioned it was still giving you trouble. How did you get past this?
CR > By realising that it wasn’t going to go away!I did short training sessions and tried not to walk or run around too much and rest it when not sailing. On the course I minimised transitions and the amount of time on the water. I also did lots of stretching, and physio.
P. Let’s talk about the Ninja. You have proven that the boat is a race winning design at international competition level. Have you modified yours to gain an advantage?
CR > Mine is a standard boat produced by Aardvark, apart from the Atomik adjustable wand which really helped control in the steep choppy conditions at Travemunde. The C-tech mast designed by Alex Vallings/ Kevin Ellway was really quick and performed well across the range of conditions.
P. Without giving too much away, what do you think it is about the Ninja that gave you the advantage over all of the other designs out there.
CR > In truth, Kevin Ellway as it’s his design and because of his uncompromising passion and understanding of the boat and it’s set up. He knows when he’s on the right track and is relentlessly pursuing the ultimate moth design.
P. With three titles in 2011 (UK inland national, national championships and European Championships), the boat certainly performed well for both you and Jason Belben. Do you think Kevin Ellway has found the magic ingredient or do you think there is still a long way to go in terms of design and integration of all of the components?
CR > We are very close to reaching the full potential of the Ninja with a few small tweaks up our sleeves. It’s now just about training and working hard in the build up to the Garda Worlds in 2012
P. Do you train alone or do you also have a team to help you with everything from motivation to boat preparation?
CR > I train alone to improve my boat handling but the team at stokes bay have been invaluable in our training and build up to the last two major championships and without them we wouldn’t have the titles that we’ve got.
P. Having witnessed the jump in sailing standard at the worlds earlier this year, how can we raise the game in the UK to increase the number of world class competitors?
CR > In the UK moth class we have a very good number of elite sailors and to challenge the likes of the Australian moth squad in 2012 we will need to work together as a team to improve our individual performances in order to bring the ashes back.
P. What are your plans for the next year?
CR > Train hard at Stokes on starting on the 14th August and test more equipment. Use the winter period to work on boat handling and training. Focusing on performing well at the Paignton Grand Prix event in September.
P. And finally, what advice would you give to any one coming in to the class?
CR > Be prepared to work hard. Don’t sail the boat for a few days and then think it is beyond you and then give up. Watch Youtube for videos. Speak to any one in the class as they are all really willing to help newcomers. Get along to the training events because they are invaluable even if you don’t have a boat yet as you learn so much. Simon Payne was really helpful and helped guide me when getting in to the class. He was always willing to help and give up his time.
Anyone you want to give a mention to?
I would like to thank Jason Belben for getting me up to speed in the middle of winter, scraping ice off the boat and rigging/ derigging in the snow!
Kevin Ellway for all of the time he has put in to setting up my boat and explaining how it all works which has drastically reduced my learning curve.
Royal London Yacht club for their continued support of my sailing campaign and in particular, Peter Taylor for his experience and guidance driving me down the right path to success.
I’d also like to thank my suppliers, Zhik, Harken, Marlow ropes, Atomik UK, Torq
P. Once again, thank you for sharing your experience with everyone.