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Plas Menai 2015

Two World Titles, One European, Two UK Nationals: A great 12 months for Nick Craig

by Mark Jardine 21 Jan 12:00 GMT
Nick Craig & Alan Roberts win the Aspire Merlin Rocket Championship at Pwllheli © Andy Green / www.greenseaphotography.co.uk

Sometimes it all falls into place and sometimes it doesn't. 2017, and the beginning of 2018, have proved fruitful for Nick Craig. In the past 12 months Nick has won the OK Dinghy World Championship, the D-One Europeans, the Merlin Rocket UK Nationals, the B14 UK Nationals and most recently the B14 World Championship. We spoke to Nick at the London Boat Show 2018 to try and find the secret to his success.

Mark: Do you think this rates as your best 12 months ever?

Nick: Quite possibly! All the big events came together, and it doesn't happen often like that. It's been a brilliant year.

Mark: You sail a diverse range of boats with very different characteristics. How do you find switching between the different classes?

Nick: They're all hiking boats which helps – trapezing is a bit beyond me! The great thing with switching classes is that you take things from each one, learning new skills in each boat and from different sailors, and then take some of that to each class. There's a lot in common, but there are differences and it's important to know those, get used to them, and be quick to adapt, knowing what you need to change in your sailing style – especially the B14 as that's a very different type of sailing to the other classes I sail and has taken a while to work out.

Mark: How big a difference does it make having Toby Lewis as a crew?

Nick: He's a fantastic crew. His feel for a boat is tremendous and he's always in the right place at the right time, and when I'm in the wrong place he's already compensated for it. We worked out we've sailed together on and off for 19 years, which is longer than I've been with my wife! That familiarity means we move in unison and he makes up for my errors. This especially helps in the B14 where that touch round the boat is so critical – he's magic at that.

Mark: As an amateur sailor, do you choose your events carefully as I notice the venues have all been spectacular locations? Which is more important to you, the location or the event?

Nick: The location is an important factor, especially with family, and my wife gets a big say in where we're going. When you have an event in Australia and we were able to have a week in Sydney beforehand it makes it very appealing and it makes it much easier to do. If I can take the family to an event and we can have a bit of holiday it's much more manageable and everybody has a good time.

Mark: You always seem to have a grin on your face when you're sailing around the course. What's the aspect that you most enjoy about sailing?

Nick: There are so many things which I enjoy and that's probably why I love sailing; I love being outdoors, I love the competitive element, I love the learning element – sailing's a sport I've been doing for 35 years and I'm still learning new things and from other people. The social side is fun as well; we found the sailors in Australia so friendly and down-to-earth. All of those things combined make it such a great sport.

Mark: With the B14 Worlds you've had a great start to the year. What do you have lined up in 2018?

Nick: We're sailing the Merlin Rocket again as the racing is tremendous, I'll be doing the D-One Worlds in Austria – a country I've never raced it so that'll be fun in a really friendly fleet- and we're also doing the GP14 Worlds as it's in Mount's Bay which is a fantastic venue and makes for a good family holiday. The GPs have done a really good job of publicising the event with over 70 boats entered already and there will probably be over 100. We're looking forward to all of those events.

Mark: For the last few years Ben Saxton has dominated the Endeavour Trophy. Is he becoming your nemesis, or do you have the answer up your sleeve as to how you can regain the Champion of Champions title?

Nick: It'll be very hard to get past Ben; he's a full-time sailor and has 15 years on me in the right direction, especially in an RS200! He also likes a beer and some banter and comes to play in a variety of amateur classes so has a great attitude to the sport.

Mark: Best of luck with the year ahead – it was great to chat.

Nick: Thank you very much.

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