Once a month we'll be sharing Q&A's with Doyle's up-and-coming sailmakers from around the globe. We've asked lofts to interview their apprentices and most-improved craftsmen and women. Some, had never sailed before working at Doyle and some have been sailing and competing since they could walk.
The beauty of it is that we all start somewhere and there's no telling where that road will lead us...
This month's From Zero to Hero interview below:
DS: Where is home for you?
Bob: Jimo, Qingdao China. (North Eastern China.)
DS: What is the sailing scene like in China?
Bob: The local sailing scene is limited. China sailing is unlike other countries. We don’t get to go sailing each week like other places. Regattas seem to be more the focus up here.
DS: How long have you been a sailing?
Bob: About 8 years. I joined Doyle Sails Qingdao (10 years ago) a local business near my home. Mark Fullerton, the co owner, encouraged me to sail to learn more about the job. The company sent me to sailing school and then would take me to regattas. This way I learnt more about how and why we build sails. I could see the loads on various sails and why they get cut the way they do. After crewing for Mark and John for a while, I did legs of the clipper race in Australia. This included the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. I have since crewed for Mark and John in various regattas throughout China.
DS: How did you come to work for Doyle Qingdao and what do you do there?
Bob: I started at the loft as it is close to my home. I like the job and the opportunities it has given me. I am currently the loft floor manager. Last year I spent 4 weeks at Doyle Sails New Zealand. The company wanted me to look at other sailmaking operations and broaden my experience. It was good fun. I am the first person, besides the owners, to complete 10 years at the company.
DS: What has been your biggest learning curve in sailmaking?
Bob: Coming from a non-sailing background, I think the biggest challenge has been the “why do they do it like that”. The engineering of the sail has been a learning curve. Also managing up to 25 staff on the floor has kept me very busy.
DS: Any events coming up?
Bob: We have Mayors Cup Regatta in Qingdao shortly. I will probably be bowman on a Beneteau First 40. I have done local regattas, China Cups, (China's most international regatta) and some offshore racing.
DS: What is your biggest sailing accomplishment so far?
Bob: Completing the Sydney to Hobart Race was a buzz.
DS: Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Bob: I don’t really know. I have come a long way in 10 years for a boy from the Chinese countryside who had never been on the sea. I never dreamed of crossing oceans or Hobart races. I took a job that is becoming a career!
DS: Favourite local slang?
Bob: I think understanding the Australian and Kiwi slang (of the owners) is more of a challenge!!!! (Laughs)