Full racing risks
New for old cover
The Cherub is a two-person 12 foot racing dinghy with asymmetric spinnaker and twin trapezes. Just twelve feet long, weighing around 70kgs fully rigged for sailing, the Cherub combines spectacular performance with the “on the edge” handling characteristics only found in true lightweight skiffs.
Originally created in New Zealand by John Spencer in 1951, Cherubs are mainly sailed in Australia and Great Britain, with a growing fleet in France. As well as this, boats can be found as far away as Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, the USA and Portugal.
The Cherub rules are simple and allow for maximum flexibility for designers, allowing boats to be created to incorporate sailor's own ideas. Also meaning the class develops over time as techniques, materials and ideas improve. All this makes the Cherub one of the most interesting and innovative of all dinghies: The challenge extends from the sailing skills to setting up the boat to suit the sailor, and maybe even designing and building, too.
Cherub sailing is the real thing: True planing performance upwind, but then turn the corner and you’re in for the ride of your life…
Paul Clements was a sailor of exemplary skill gained from a lifetime of yacht and dinghy racing which he undertook with boundless energy and passion. His enthusiasm was infectious, and combined with his generous “she’s rigged, so take her out” approach meant that he was regarded as a mentor by many, so lengthy debriefs in the bar and by email would follow any sailing outing.
Born on 25th April 1955, Paul gained his sea legs before he could walk by being lashed to his father’s yacht on trips out of Poole harbour. He sailed at Parkstone Yacht Club in Cadets and 420s, and later Merlin Rockets. As a youth sailor he became the 420 National champion twice as a crew and went to two world championships as part of the Youth squad, in a class that he would return to many years later when married to Liza. The young crews who they sailed against were greatly perplexed when this much older couple turned up and finished consistently in the top ten.
Paul’s yachting experience included a few years as a yacht bum that only ended when his father force-marched him back to university to complete his engineering degree which led to a career in aeronautical engineering at Rolls Royce in Bristol.
As a young man Paul sailed in the infamous 1979 Fastnet Yacht Race and his jaw-dropping account of it is an incredible story of seamanship and survival. His yacht was rolled twice, swamped, all its navigation equipment was destroyed and the majority of the crew laid-low with seasickness, hypothermia and injury. Paul too was injured when the yacht was rolled whilst he was attached by his lifeline to the backstay. When the yacht came upright he found himself at the top of the mast and he then fell to the deck below.
Paul owned and raced “Super Nova” for a number of years in the competitive quarter-ton class where he won many trophies.
For 20 years Paul sailed with Liza at Portishead SC in 420s, and later in the Buzz and the Spice (winning the nationals a number of times in both classes) until the arrival of children meant that Liza stopped sailing. And it’s here that he also became one of the first proponents of the Musto Performance Skiff. Conditions at Portishead were not suitable for the Musto so they moved to Chew. Paul’s mastery of the Musto (he was the Grand Master National Champion in 2009) meant that Paul was then well placed to coach others from Chew including Graham Crandford Smith and Chris Goldhawk who followed in his footsteps. Teenagers would marvel wide-eyed at his antics, and then be amazed when he would get back to shore and insist they have a go.
Paul swapped the Musto for an RS800 which he and I sailed together for a number of years. Our many memorable moments include the most thrilling sailing I have ever done: sailing in the Europeans at Lake Garda.
Always looking for the next challenge, Paul moved from RS800 to the Cherub, buying the notorious “Shiny Beast” and then joining the Cherub fleet in their antics around the country. At the Pwllheli Nationals his stand–out performance was entering the wellie throwing competition with a throw that also resulted in him dislocating his shoulder – Paul would always push everything to the extreme and often beyond.
Chew also provided the perfect environment for Paul to introduce his son Ian to sailing in the Access 303. Of course they had to sail competitively and they went on to win the Nationals.
Paul was a great mate and I feel privileged to have sailed with him. Paul will be missed by Liza and their sons Simon, Mark and Ian. Details of the memorial service on 1st May are here.
Richard Hole Subtle knife