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7th November 2018

Jimmy Cornell, 78

Jimmy is a Romanian-born yachtsman, author and founder of the World Cruising Club.

GEOGRAPHY CAN CHANGE EVERYTHING
I grew up in a village in Transylvania and only saw the Black Sea once when I was nine years old on a summer camp. I was immediately fascinated by it and wanted to go to sea ever since. As it happened, I met my British wife to-be Gwenda in Romania and ended up moving to England, where I worked at the BBC. The company happened to have a yachting club, which changed my life. I started sailing on the Thames and qualified on their 40-foot yacht and it very quickly became a passion.

FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS, NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS
After I married and had children, I started to dream about going on a sailing voyage as a family. I was very fortunate that my wife Gwenda shared my dream – and against the odds, we went ahead and did it. We planned to be away for maybe three years but it turned out to be six. Everyone thought we were crazy, but I don’t regret a thing. I had gained my freedom after so many years in a country where I didn’t have any. I wanted to do something with it. For me, that meant going out and seeing the world.

TRAVEL OPENS YOUR MIND
I think as a result of our travels our children are particularly open-minded – even all these years later. They certainly can’t understand why people are racist or bigoted. They have met wonderful people everywhere, regardless of their race or wealth. Those impressions have stayed with them for life. Travel opens your mind and I am convinced that people who sail are more compassionate about life and society.

HONESTY IS VITAL TO RELATIONSHIPS
I always told my wife the truth about everything from the beginning. I was very open with her and I think that struck a chord because she is very honest. I think perhaps people today are less inclined to believe in honesty; they tend to think there must be a hidden agenda, which is a shame. That comes from the politicians down. If they lie, why wouldn’t the person right in front of them? But with friends, family and colleagues, it’s so important to be yourself and to be sincere.

AGEING STARTS IN THE MIND
To a large extent how you age is a case of mind over matter – unless you are unlucky with your health. If you regard yourself as old, you’ve lost it. You’ll start changing your mindset, your attitudes – you’ll start acting old, basically, and then you are old. If you regard yourself as young in spite of your grey hair, people tend not to notice. Yes I am 78, but so what? I haven’t noticed. I still do everything that I want to do. The best thing about getting older? The fact that I’m not dead yet! I am happy to still be around, there’s nothing more philosophical to it than that.

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