Interview with our new World Champion – Simon Payne
Q. Once again, thank you for taking time out to do this interview. Your success must be considered one of the all time achievements in your moth career. How did you feel going in to the regatta?
A. That’s my second Moth World title but the first one back in 06 will always be the most special. I can still recall the feeling of relief when I beat the “Lord of the Wings” Rohan Veal. A guy I still consider to be the best ever.
Initially I didn’t feel good about this one, I hadn’t sailed since the Gorge except the time I’d borrowed Ricky Tagg’s boat to go for a sail at the back end of last year (and broke it). Then I had a knee operation in December and afterwards intense physio which turned out to be a great success. When I got my new boat I had a chance to sail against the UK fleet in January. I pretty much got my ass kicked but I knew that if I could tack and hike, then that was a good thing. I knew the speed would come later. I know the KA rig very well.
Q. What were your thoughts on the American camp considering Bora’s run away success last year and the fact that all of the US guys have been training so hard since the last worlds?
A. The Americans are great guys, and I think they would agree that given the time and effort they put in, that in hindsight they should have focused on other areas. I’m sure they’ve learnt a lot but to believe that flat sails and heavy sailors would work was incorrect. Really they misunderstood the brief and sure when you are slow your head drops. They need to develop a less skewed understanding of what Moth racing is and re evaluate. Having said that Brad Funk was fast predominantly because he was running fairly normal gear. He just turned up, kept it simple and sailed without creating any self imposed pressure.
Q. How was the knee throughout the competition? Did you think it was going to be a problem for you?
A. It was fine, I didn’t even think about it.
Q. How much training did you do since the last worlds? I remember you saying that you were planning on taking time out. Did taking a break help you to refocus?
A. No I took a break because I’ve other things to do. I like to treat events as a project. I’m not good at on-going sailing.
Q. What do you think was the secret of your success this time round?
A. I think I’m good at the big events. They excite me and I’m up for a fight. I’ve been around a while and love the battle. I sailed well but could have sailed better. I was lucky that it didn’t really blow where my lack of fitness would have been exposed.
Q. You didn’t have your new Mach 2 for very long before the event. How did you manage to get it set up so quickly in time for the worlds?
A. “Birdy” is a great boat. My first “production” Mach 2 and I couldn’t believe the fantastic job the guys at McConaghy did. I put her together and she rocked! We always said the Mach 2 should be fast straight out of the box and I’m proof it is!
Q. How does it feel to bring back the ashes? After Weymouth it looked as though we weren’t going to see them for some time!
A. I didn’t really think about this. If its proof the UK fleet is on the up then I’m delighted. I don’t really know how it works actually
Q. What happened with Bora in the slalom? It seems as though everyone is taking the competition much more seriously than in years gone by. Do you think this is a sign of things to come or do you think this was an isolated incident?
A. It’s getting more professional sure. People practice, invest time and try hard. Consequently it’s reasonable to expect them to take it seriously. I like this in the Moth class, people who don’t try just annoy me
A. Nothing really happened with Bora. We both needed the cash to pay for our hotel bill.
Q. Does AMAC continue to pass on set up tips to all the MACH2 riders or is this now a more closely guarded affair?
A. Yeah Amac is very open, always happy to help guys out. I think this is one of the benefits of sailing a Mach 2, you get to talk directly with one of the biggest influencers the class has ever known. Problem is he still beats you.
Q. Talking of the MACH2, it seems they pretty much dominated the event. Do you think that this is likely to change in the near future or do you think they are miles ahead of the competition?
A. I don’t think the competition truly understand the pace of the Mach 2 on an open course, and frankly I don’t see anyone challenging that right now. Mach 2’s aren’t cheap but because of their performance they hold their value like no other Moth design. When you buy one and come to sell it you pretty much get your money back.
Q. Mike Lennon and Ricky Tagg stepped up and delivered really solid results. How far off is the day when you are all fighting it out for the top spot?
A. Soon I guess. Everything is closer at National events. Moth sailing is simple really, you put the effort in and the results will come. Those guys are trying hard and both will have learnt an enormous amount by attending the Worlds. It’s up to them, but I don’t think anyone is going to get things their own way at HISC anymore.
Q. Now you are back and relishing the world title, what next for you?
A. I have to open a travel agent in London next week… No not really.
Q. Do you see yourself becoming more involved in race training in the UK or are you not ready to give up the advantage yet?
A. I like coaching and I’m looking forward to the Mothfest in Spain in May. There are no secrets really, no magic bullet. When people realize this they suddenly improve.
Q. With AMAC at 55 and showing no signs of slowing down, does this mean that you plan on sticking around for at least the next decade?
A. No. Last night the cashier in Tesco’s asked me if I needed a hand packing my groceries. That was a signal if ever there was one..
Thanks again Simon and congratulations!