Robert Stanjek is a German sailor. He was born in RÃ¼ndersdorf, near Brandeburg, on May the 7th, 1981. He represented Germany with his crew Frithjof Kleen in the Star class at the 2012 Olympics in London and also captured a silver medal at the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championship in Perth, Australia. He will be in Grandson, in three weeks, to compete in the first SSL Lake Grand Slam. We tried to know him a little better through this interview.
When did you first learn to sail?
1988 when I was six.
What was that you liked about it that had you going on?
The satisfaction of winning something.
When was the first time you sailed on a Star boat? What feelings did you have?
I jumped from the Laser to the Star in 2004 and I thought â€œWow what a big sail!â€
What is your favourite boat to sail on?
Do you have a sports nickname?
Do you have a sailing hero?Â Did you have a different hero when you were a kid?
I followed a lot the Laser duel between Robert Scheidt and Ben Ainslie. They were my heroes in sailing. By that time I was 15-20 years old. Bud I had a lot of heroes in other sports.
What is the investment (emotional, financial, social) you made that most influenced where you are today?
I always spent a lot of foundingâ€™s and sponsor money in good coaches.
Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
I tried to qualify for 3 Olympic games. I failed twice due to very strong competitors in my Country. The third time I managed and it was the biggest achievement in my career.
How important is the quality of your gear in a race?
The Star thought me how important it is to look after your race gear, if you want to be successful.
How do you balance your family life and sailing? What is the most challenging aspect when balancing sailing and your family life?
Of course you need to match the family calendars thoroughly. On the other hand it doesnâ€™t have to interfere in the daily routine of your partner. Your partner doesnâ€™t have to change everything just because you are home.
What tools do you use to stay up to date on sailing news?
Harbour talks and internet.
What gives you the biggest thrill when competing in a regatta?
When I have a good preparation and fully understanding of the pattern of a venue, than play the strategy and tactics.
In your opinion, what is it that helps you maintain such a high performance level?
There is no secret. You have to keep practicing and working out.
How is your approach to sailing similar to your approach to life?
If there is a challenge of course you can use what you have learnt from the sport. Bud it doesnâ€™t always work to optimise procedures and look for the best efficiency. Particularly not in your social life.
What is the first thing you would say to an aspiring sailor?
It is definitely worth it spending time on that sport.
What defines a good crew member? What qualities should the ideal crew member have?
I think it is not good if your crew has the same personality as you, just to get along with each other. If he is different from you he will bring other qualities. If you learn to put them together you will reach higher goals as a team.
What qualities should the ideal skipper have?
For sure he needs good abilities in managing the project, the team. He needs to be a fast driver for sure! Then he needs to have a good feeling for the boat and a lot of intuition on how to place the boat on the racecourse.
What is your preferred wind level/strength?
I enjoy if a competition has a bit of everything.
If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
Working with the right coaches from the beginning on. This is the biggest resource.
What is a key quality that makes you respect a fellow athlete?
Fairness, specially when the pressure is high.
When are you satisfied with your performance in a regatta? Does it depend on winning?
Not always. You can sail a perfect race by risk management and someone else wins it by being luckier. Before you sail a competition you make a big strategy. If I am successful with it in the end I am happy.
Many have said that in a regatta the mental side is as important as the physical side, do you agree? What do you do to keep your mind strong during a race?
I set goals and than try to keep my mind in the present until the end of the series. This is hard work.
Do you think it is possible to make a living as a professional sailor?
In Germany it is not a common occupational profile. But I am trying because it is what I like. A lot of nice challenges are still waiting.
Outside of sailing, what pastime brings you the most satisfaction?
Spending time with family and friends!
If you were a woman, how different would your career have been?
I probably would have decided to stop sailing earlier and start a family.
Other than this interview, what is the stupidest thing youâ€™ve ever agreed to do?
Every thing gives an experience.
What are you at this moment of your life? What are your goals and what are you working on?
I am working on my own Volvo Ocean Race project. I canâ€™t wait racing around the globe!
If we do this interview again next year, what do you hope will have changed?
â€œI have my own Volvo Project!â€
Good luck with your open seaÂ project, Robert, Lake NeuchÃ¢telÂ might feel a little narrow with the VOR in mind..