Christian Kamp on his sailing career
Christian Kamp is a sailor with Artemis Racing, the Swedish challenger for the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda. He is one of the few people in the world that successfully managed to convert his passion into his career by sheer determination, dedication and hard work.
Moving in the sailing circles and having met many sailors throughout the last 15 years, I can honestly say that Christian has got to be one of the nicest, most approachable, down to earth, kindest and most thoughtful sailors in the whole world of sailing. He has this unique ability to put you at ease and make you feel comfortable around him. His sincerity, lack of ego and gentle manner instantly draw you in. He is very charismatic - no matter who you talk to - everyone loves him. He treats everyone the same, regardless of position, and always has a kind word for everyone. Christian is also a devoted family man - who loves spending quality time with his wife Dorte and his 3 children.
I feel very honored that he gave me some insight on his life and career with this interview.
How did you start out in sailing?
In Denmark, we have a strong tradition of sailing because we have a huge coastline. My dad was a sailor and so was my granddad. My parents had a cruising boat and every summer we went out cruising for a month and visited all the little islands. One summer holiday I tried an optimist dinghy at a little marina we were docked at and thought it was great fun. My dad worked in a small town called Skærbæk - not far from where we lived and they had a great junior optimist facility there – very small, very simple – just a wooden shed on the beach really. They had a huge amount of young optimist sailors there – mainly because it was one of the only things you could do in that little community. I started sailing there in 1987, when I was about 9 years old and loved it. There were a lot of talented sailors there, so there was always someone there to look up to and to be inspired by.
Did you have a role model?
Coming from Denmark, obviously Paul Elvstrøm is and was a huge influence. He won 4 gold medals in the Olympics. He passed away recently, but he is one of the biggest names in sailing ever. He was a true inventor, way ahead of his time. He had a boat that was actually built in Skærbæk and I met him there when I was quite young. He was an inspiration to me.
Another one I remember hearing a lot of was Dennis Connor – he was an icon for America’s Cup sailing. And later on, Russell Coutts became my role model and mentor.
How did you get into competitive sailing?
The optimist is a pretty good way to get into racing and I wanted to compete. I’ve always been very competitive. Even with all the other sports I was involved in, I always wanted to race and improve myself. There were lots of optimist races and I loved it – my parents were locked into taking me to all those races for a number of years. I don’t come from a wealthy family and my parents made it very clear that when I’m 15 and done with the optis, they can’t keep dragging me around the country to do all of these competitions. So, when I was 15, I was keen to learn something new and I wanted to learn how to sail with a spinnaker. Our local yacht club had 2 yinglings and together with some of my mates we put a crew together and started sailing in the 3 men keelboat. I was still in high school then and did some odd jobs to earn a bit of money. Our yacht club was very supportive and I have to thank them for lending us the boats and equipment.