Please select your home edition
Edition
Guy Nowell - Blue 728

'Sailing as we know it is officially over,' says Ken Read

by Bernard Schopfer on 12 Dec 2013
World Yacht Racing Forum, Gothenburg © Dino Soldin
An America’s Cup on foiling catamarans, a one-design class for the Volvo Ocean Race and key elements of the traditionally liberal IMOCA Class standardised: those are only some of the radical changes sailing has gone through in 2013, and that have been debated with passion over the last two days by the delegates of the World Yacht Racing Forum in Gothenburg, Sweden.

'Sailing as we know it is officially over', commented keynote speaker and North Sails Group President Ken Read. Whether people like it or not, the sport is moving fast, in terms of technology but also promotion, communication tools, territories visited, classes... 'Just look at how much sailing has evolved this year and compare it with soccer', observed Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad. 'It ‘s simply amazing, although I think the sport should have evolved even faster. Sailing has been much too slow at adapting some of the new technologies available.'

The World Yacht Racing Forum focused on the commercial aspects of the sport, in both offshore or in-port sailing, Olympic classes or the America’s Cup. Talking about Olympic sailing, Olympic Champion and team Artemis CEO Iain Percy insisted on the fact that 'the integrity of racing must be preserved despite the increase of commercial needs. It is wrong to put too much emphasis on the final race.' An argument that seems recurrent in the World Yacht Racing Forum, already highlighted vehemently by Sir Ben Ainslie in 2012.


Some of yacht racing’s most involved sponsors attended the event, including Volvo, Stena and Macif. 'The key to a successful sponsorship campaign, said the latters’ marketing director Jean-Bernard Le-Boucher, is to get involved on a long term basis, and to compete in many events. The risk-factor remains high, and a long term involvement tends to decrease it. François Gabart, Macif’s skipper and Vendée Globe winner, couldn’t agree more: his sponsor is going to support his next project of building an «Ultime» trimaran, on which he will sail both the Route du Rhum single handedly before attempting a fully crewed round the world record.

Some live surveys conducted amongst the WYRF audience led to interesting conclusions: 80% of the assistance believes that online media is be the best way to reach sailing’s audience, when TV seemed to be the only way to go until recently. According to them, most sponsors (31%) are mainly interested in hospitality programs, compared to visibility on TV (26%) and social media (18%), whilst print is down to 3%...

'The most important element remains to tell a proper, interesting story, no matter on which support', explained Peter Bayer, CEO of Open Sports Management, the entity in charge of IMOCA’s commercial development. 'In order to reach a bigger audience, the sport needs to be entertaining. It’s not about the boats: we need to tell a strong story, and to speak about the people.' Luc Talbourdet, IMOCA’s CEO, fully agrees: ' The key to the success of the Vendée Globe is the story, not the boat nor even the race.'

With help from Seahorse USA Editor Dobbs Davis the new one-day format of the Yacht Racing Design & Technology Symposium helped summarize the status of important projects in the world of Grand Prix sailing. Presentations made on the new Volvo 65 one-design revealed how tight tolerances and production deadlines are being met by the consortium of builders involved in the project, and the first boat sailing is generating excellent feedback from the SCA team. Maintenance and repair details were discussed, with the event expected to deliver high-intensity performance and competition at substantial cost savings from previous VOR formats.


The structural integrity of keels was also explored, with the need for more communication identified as a key factor in troubleshooting problems and developing sensible inspection and certification strategies to prevent future failures. The lessons learned from North Sails’ role in America’s Cup foil design was also presented to help illustrate how this will improve mainstream sail design.

Another interesting presentation was from Gurit on the potential uses (and mis-uses) of nanotubes in laminate structures, and how on the offshore racing yacht valuable weight can be saved at reasonable cost whilst maintaining structural integrity. The formal presentations then concluded with an overview of how rating systems are doing an increasingly better job of producing a fair playing field for a wide variety of boat types, and where these systems can improve for the future. The role of the Sailing Yacht Research Foundation (SYRF) was also described as a potential funding source for new areas of research to help improve these rating systems.

Delegates and presenters at the YRDTS then joined the Forum to participate in round-table discussions, providing a necessary technical perspective on a wide range of topics. This new format has helped open the channels of communication between the technical and non-technical communities to integrate the ideas of both.

Keynote speaker Ken Read, President, North Sails Group, concluded his presentation with a strong statement: 'The economic crisis is definitely over, and I haven’t seen as much enthusiasm for the sport of sailing for a long time!'

The sixth edition of the World Yacht Racing Forum closed its doors following two days of presentations, constructive debates and networking sessions. Over 230 delegates and 60 speakers from all over the world attended the different presentations, shared ideas and business cards whilst hearing insights from some of the sport’s major WYRF website

Hall Spars - BattenStorm Force Marine 2Insun - AC Program

Related Articles

New addition to North Sail for Volvo Ocean 65 racing machines
Their sails have powered eight out of nine Volvo Ocean Race winners since 1989-90, with Steinlager 2. Instead of assembling cloth panels into a particular sail shape, the Volvo Ocean Race sails are composites. This means that 3Di material 'tapes' are laid in a specific arrangement, offering stable structure to the sail where it is needed most.
Posted on 24 Apr
Crewsaver appointed as Official Safety Provider to 35th America’s Cup
Crewsaver has announced today that it has been selected to be the Official Safety Provider to the 35th America’s Cup Crewsaver has announced today, 21st April 2017, that it has been selected to be the Official Safety Provider to the 35th America’s Cup, which will take place in Bermuda from 26th May to 27th June 2017.
Posted on 22 Apr
Commodore John Markos of CYCA leads visit to China
This is the first time in the nearly 73 year history of the race that the event organisers will be visiting China. During the visit, the delegation will visit Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Shanghai. They will be invited to attend the opening ceremony of the China (Shanghai) International Boat Show in 2017.
Posted on 13 Apr
Singapore Yacht Show 2017 – Singapore Supersized!
We’ve seen superyachts before – they come in three sizes. Big, better and best We’ve seen superyachts before – they come in sizes of big, better and best, and the interior design varies between anything from Stately Home to Ikea. It’s all a matter of taste. Now say hello something entirely different: meet Silver Fast.
Posted on 9 Apr
Simpson Marine at the Singapore Yacht Show 2017
An exhaustive press conference at which every one of the dealer’s ‘stable’ was introduced Simpson Marine, one of the biggest exhibitors at the Singapore Yacht Show, pulled out all the stops at an exhaustive press conference at which every one of the dealer’s ‘stable’ was introduced: Beneteau (Power and Sail), Lagoon, Monte Carlo, CNB, Monte Carlo Yachts, Sanlorenzo and Viking.
Posted on 8 Apr
Asia Pacific Yachting Conference 2017 revisited (ie day 2)
Back at the tables on Thursday morning “Where are the Asian government representatives at this conference?” came from the floor, along with a dialogue on whether infrastucture development should be the remit of the private or the governmental sector, comments about some regulatory successes achieved by the Asia Pacific Superyacht Association and the puzzling question of why the boating industry in Asia is very much run by ‘foreigners’.
Posted on 6 Apr
Asia Pacific Yachting Conference 2017- talking shop in Singapore
The keynote address from Chairman Martin Redmayne (The Superyacht Group) covered professionalism within the industry Like the telephone company says, “it’s good to talk.” Whether the principal benefit of a conference is listening to speakers or having coffee and conversations with the other delegates is open to question – maybe it’s a bit of both. In past years we have commented that the APYC programme seemed to consist of overseas experts shipped in to tell those of us in Asia how to raise our game.
Posted on 5 Apr
Southern Spars takes to the air with new composite engineering project
One of the challenges for companies who have had their roots in the marine industry is diversification beyond that field One of the challenges for companies who have had their roots in the marine industry is diversification beyond that field. Moving into the composites engineering for non-marine projects is becoming a more common occurrence as clients realise the opportunities from utilising the expertise of composite boat and spar builders.
Posted on 8 Mar
SEA-EX Boat Show, Manila, Philippines
The Philippines has long been eyed as a possible hub for the leisure boating industry in Asia. With over 7,000 islands and rich marine biodiversity, the Philippines has long been eyed as a possible hub for the leisure boating industry in Asia. However, almost a decade since the start of the campaign to boost the country's boating industry, the project has yet to see significant developments.
Posted on 28 Feb
World Sailing unites Kiteboarding governing bodies
World Sailing has today signed a landmark agreement with the IKA and the GKA to unite the kiteboarding community World Sailing has today signed a landmark agreement with the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) and the Global Kitesports Association (GKA) to unite the kiteboarding community and provide clarity of kiteboarding's governance structure.
Posted on 13 Feb