Where will Sailing Take You? Interview with David Lilburn

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Hi Everybody, I’ve been asked by Emma Hepplewhite to do this kind of video/interview thing. I’ve enlisted my colleague, Alison here to hold the camera and to ask me some questions because there’s too much to do for my small brain at the same time, so I guess I’ll just get into it.

Over to you Alison.

What’s your name?

My name is David Lilburn. Back when I was Sailing my Topper, people used to call me Lilly. Nowadays I go with my professional name. And my occupation? I am a sailor of some sort. I certainly used to be a sailor. And now I clean a lot of windows! But I live on the ocean and I earn my living that way so I guess that answers the question.

How did you get into sailing?

I got into sailing when I was about 12 years old. Quite a late starter to be honest, when my Dad offered to take me down to the local sailing club, Royal Tay Yacht Club in Dundee, to attend the Wednesday night cadet evenings. Which was a useful out-of-school activity for me to do that wasn’t hanging around on street corners or supporting Dundee United or Dundee – I was always conflicted so my story is I took up sailing instead.

And what years were you in the Topper squad?

Well, it was a very, very long time ago now and I had to consult a few people as to the dates, but I believe I was in the Topper squad in the years 1993 and 1994, which actually was last century!

Who was your coach?

My coach was Donny Meldrum, the father of Stuart Meldrum and the rest of the Meldrum dynasty, I guess. They were a very successful sailing family, still are I hope, but I haven’t seen them around for a few years. But Donnie was always the keen dad he was always shouting to Stewart, “Pull your kicker on!”

What was the best part about being in the Topper squad?

The best part of being the topper squad, and really as I got into sailing more and more was the idea that we would go away, at the weekends and we would go to different venues around the country and I’d meet my friends again. There’s a very social aspect, as well as the competitive side and the actual sailing, the whole kind of lifestyle that was associated with the topper squad really suited me as a, as a young teenager. And I guess it’s still true today that I love the, the aspect of travelling around the world and the same people, doing the same things, but in a different place.

What did you sail after the Topper and why?

After my burgeoning Topper career came to an end, I then moved into the 420 like many other people will do in the squad system. Originally sailing with my friend from home, another Topper sailor, Andrew Buchanan. Then a year later, I think, I ended up in the Scottish 420 squad alongside Mr. Duncan Hepplewhite, who was helming for me in a 420, and that probably explains one of the reasons why I’ve been asked to do this

What do you sail at the moment?

At the moment I sell a 42-metre power boat, which is a stretch for the imagination. I guess the thing I’ve done most recently in sailing, my personal sailing, would be the WASZP, which is obviously getting a lot of attention these days and very much worth it as well.

Where are you right now?

Right now I’m in the Captain’s Chair while he’s not looking. We’re based here in West Palm Beach in Florida. On the east coast of the States.

What’s the best adventure you’ve had related to sailing?

This is probably the question I have deliberated over most. I think it was an experience or adventure, I guess, sailing is an adventure, full stop. But I guess I’ve got three real highlights I’d like to mention, I guess. I was for a brief time, the skipper of the sailing yacht Drum, an old Maxi yacht that sails up and down the Clyde in Scotland. I’ve worked on it for many years and eventually became the captain. And we actually, for the first time in many years, actually threw it around a racecourse. At a small local regatta on the Clyde, we, we managed to weave around the many, many 30-40 foot yachts and we’re sailing in the regatta with this 80 foot Maxi and wowed the crowds, I certainly impressed myself. That was a real thing for me.

Then when this whole superyachting thing began I guess you have to mention sailing in the superyacht regatta St Barts bucket. As you go upwind and round the windward mark, in 25 knots and crystal, crystal-blue, turquoise water with the wind blowing and loads of other big Superyachts sailing around and as you round the windward mark, the whole team springs into action and hoists spinnaker, pops the kite. That’s a moment I’ll never forget.

But I think the one I’m most fond of, and it’s also the most recent, was when I first saw the WASZP on Lake Garda while Duncan was watching from the RIB. [I was] completely inexperienced, unable to tack or gybe, which is still true. But just the experience of flying across Lake Garda on hydrofoils, looking at the scenery around me, and it really, I said this time that it really brought it home, how lucky I was to have been taken sailing when I was 12 years old, the first place, I was able to do a thing like this, now.

Nice. What sailing plans do you have for the future?

Sailing plans I have the future – is next month, again we’re racing the superyacht, not this one but the owners other boat, which is a 40 metre sloop, we’re due to  race again in St Barts bucket and we’re getting ready for that in a few weeks. So that should be another interesting time and then obviously, again, the fourth time running. I hope to be heading back to Lake Garda for the WASZP European Championships in Malcesine. So, that’s my plan.

Thanks, Dave.

Thank you everybody have a great time. Thanks Duncan Emma. We love you.

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