As part of a new series highlighting the stories of cadet sailors through the ages we’d like to start by talking about Jamie Lea. In 1990 Jamie Lea won the Cadet World Championships in Poland with his crew James Ward. We asked him some questions about his experience with cadets and what he’s been doing since and this is what he said…
How did you get into sailing?
By accident really. I was 7 years old and my parents new a Cadet helm that was looking for a small crew, they asked if I’d like to go for a sail to see if I liked it. I loved it and was hooked from then on!
They say you never forget your first Cadet. Which was yours (name and sail number) and which others did you race?
“Riff Raff” 2482 was the boat I crewed in for 2 seasons and then my parents bought it and it was my 1st Cadet. We then had “Sovereign” 7500, “Bees Nees’ 7003, “Altered Image” 8299. My last Cadet was “Mad Max” 8389.
What was your best experience sailing Cadets?
Winning the cadet Worlds in Poland 1990
And which day would you rather forget?
Breaking our mast on the way in from a days racing at a Worlds selector event at my home club, Exe SC in about 1985.
Where was your best venue racing Cadets?
I was lucky enough to race in some fantastic places in my Cadet career but probably the venue that holds the best memories and was also a great sailing venue was Puck in Poland where we won the Worlds.
What sailing have you done after Cadets?
I am lucky enough to have made a profession in the yachting World, working initially as a sailmaker for Mike McNamara, then at North Sails and now as a professional yachtsman sailing in numerous different dinghy and keelboat classes from 420, 470, Hornet, Enterprise, Solo, Finn, Melges 24, Melges 32, J80, Etchells and Dragon.
What do you think racing Cadets taught you, beyond sailing?
Cadet sailing gives you one of the earliest experiences of being involved in a team, whether it be as helm and crew or as part of the team representing your country. It gives great groundings into a team ethos and everything that goes with this which can be taken forward into everyday life.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self at the start of their sailing career?
Don’t go left on the1st beat of the last race of the Cadet Worlds in Bombay, 1988!! Had the potential to win the Worlds with a good finish in the last race but had to settle for the Silver in the end! But seriously, to just make sure you enjoy the whole time in Cadet class and all the great friends and experiences you will make.
And finally – wooden or plastic?