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The Solo world before 2020

by Will Loy 6 Nov 2020 06:25 PST
Charlie Cumbley wins the Solo Nationals at the WPNSA © Will Loy

It has been a desperately disappointing Solo sailing season. Fortunately though, the NSCA have some awesome videos to remind us when times were good, when the wind blew hard and the battle with the elements was our only challenge.

The Solo Class have built up a library of major event videos going back to 2012 and these are all freely available to view at

Back in 2018 the Solo Nation's Cup took place, the iconic venue of Lake Garda producing classic Ora conditions for the 70 Solo sailors with Charlie Cumbley claiming the chicken dinner.

Marc Dieben, media expert for the Dutch association provided on-water video and managed to get a Go Pro on Charlie's Solo. This footage, now with Charlie's own audio analysis provides a rare insight into the mindset of a world class sailor at the top of his game from pre start to the finish line.

These videos provide invaluable information to the keen sailor, whatever boat you sail.

Background Info

Charlie Cumbley has four Nation's Cup and eight National titles in the Solo Class dinghy, an achievement only eclipsed by one other sailor, Geoff Carveth, who amassed an amazing eight World Championship titles (pre-Nation's Cup) and eight National Championships, the first in 1982 at Landudno.

Charlie learnt to sail messing about in boats on the river Teign where he grew up, it was a great environment to just enjoy being on the water, both his parents sailed and were heavily involved in Teign Corinthian YC, the local club who of course have always had a solid number of Solos involved. It was all relatively low key, racing club boats and on the yachts locally, and it was in his early teens he really got into the sport, racing a 420 and going to events and doing ok but he was 6 foot by the time he was 13/14yrs old so it didn't lend itself to helming a 420!

He messed around in whatever he could get his hands on until a local member Nick Whyte. who had always supported his sailing let him have a go in his Finn aged 16. 8 years later he had been able to sail a Finn on pretty much every continent with the likes of Iain Percy, Bart Simpson and Ben Ainslie who you just never stop learning from. Charlie stopped Finn sailing and went pro big boat racing for a couple of seasons then decided to give that up and get a proper job as an Accountant! Big mistake! 18 months in he was bored stiff and fortunately he got the opportunity to switch careers, joining North Sails UK in 2006.

Charlie won his first Solo National Championship in 2008 at Royal Torbay Y.C, his very first season in the class. He has also won titles in the Finn, OK, Phantom classes to name a few and has transferred his skills to win VX One, Etchells and lately the J70 Worlds.

The Boat

The Solo Class continues to remain one of the most popular single handers in the UK with strong fleets across the whole of the UK, in the Netherlands and Portugal. There are over 800 members and a race minded committee of enthusiasts who continue to work tirelessly to keep the Solo at the forefront of the sport. The class, since 1956 has produced champions, it attracts champions, raising the standard of the one design racing throughout the fleet while the diversity of equipment available allows the sailor to tailor the Solo to his/her requirements.

Video Collection

Will Loy started filming Solo events back in 2012 after being frustrated at the lack of photos of him racing Solos back in the eighties! He wanted to build up a modern video history of the class so that when Solo sailors were old(er) and uncompetitive they could log in and rekindle their fond memories. There are now more than 200 video entries and the channel has over 427k views.

The Solo Class look forward to 2021, some amazing venues in hopefully safer times.

Thanks to Charlie Cumbley at North Sails and Marc Dieben for the footage.




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