Angling for first place: from shore to ship
Philip Crebbin (Magdalene, 1970)
“When I was 11, my mother found out that by joining the local sailing club, my father and I could use the waters for fishing,” says Philip Crebbin, whose photograph appeared on the front page of Angling Times years before he became a champion sailor. Sailing, however, did become his passion, and after winning a Firefly boat as first prize in the Public Schools Sailing Championships, he founded a sailing club at his school, St Paul’s in London.
“Winning is a drug that’s hard to break away from!” By the time he arrived as a Mathematics undergraduate at Cambridge in 1970, Philip’s skill as a sailor had been firmly established. “The summer before Cambridge, I had come second in the Albacore National Championships, and fourth in the Enterprise World and National Championships, both on my first attempt.”
Involved with the first sailing team from the day he arrived, “I was completely tied up with the matches against other University teams for the whole time.”
Competing for Olympic selection in the run-up to the 1976 Games was a journey that Philip began just a year after leaving Cambridge. “It is so competitive to get into the Olympic sailing team, with only one representative for the country in each class,” he says. Philip added to his personal challenge by being involved with the development of the boat, rig and sails of the 470 – a trapeze and spinnaker dinghy – from scratch.
The culmination of his multi-year campaign came in the famous battle against Lawrie Smith, in which Philip beat Lawrie to secure the place as 470 skipper for Britain. He describes the Olympic experience as “one you remember for the rest of your life. The opening and closing ceremonies are very special, as sailors never normally experience being in the centre of such things.” He has since won 10 world championships, and represented Britain in both the America’s Cup and several Admiral’s Cups.
Alumni can re-connect with CUCrC via the Club's website: http://cucrc.soc.srcf.net/