Please select your home edition
Edition
Marine Resource 2016

A letter to Robert and Sandy Oatley

by J M on 24 Jul 2014
Filling a lake with young sailors. J M
A letter to Robert and Sandy Oatley

Dear Robert and Sandy,

As I read the news that Team Australia has withdrawn as Challenger of Record for the America's Cup I cheered quietly to myself. If I cheered loudly I would probably have been thrown out of the country!

Australia won the Cup back in 1983 over 30 years ago……….. yes it was that long ago. It was an incredible feat and a significant moment in Australian history; however the country and the world have changed out of sight since that time.

I understand the lure of winning back the Cup and bringing the Auld Mug back to Australian shores once again. I watched lots of video highlights and the nail biting finish was incredible. The Americas Cup is one of the pinnacles of sailing, like the Volvo Ocean Race, winning an Olympic gold medal and perhaps as a beginner sailor completing your first race. Yes finishing your first race is a significant event for a new sailor

Ask any sailor to tell you why they like the sport and all sorts of descriptions come up – freedom, thrill, independence, challenging. What other sport is there where an 11 year old is in charge of their own vehicle out of earshot of parents, free to go where they chose. Teenagers like yacht clubs because of the friends they make and the camaraderie.

Would teenage sailors like Australia to win the America’s Cup? Possibly.

Would it make any difference to what happens at their yacht club on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon? Probably not.

I work in sport development and I’m well aware that sport retention, and in particular youth retention, is a hard nut to crack.

When I heard that Team Australia had withdrawn I cheered; because there lies before you an opportunity to affect more change at the grassroots of sailing than ever before.

How? By significant investment in the sport focused on junior and youth participation.

The money that you would have put to the Americas Cup please consider investing it in sailing on a scale that will affect change at a club level that will create future champions as well as mass participation.

Back in 2011 Yachting Australia commissioned Gemba to conduct comprehensive research to get a better understanding of sailings customers. The research included the general public’s perception of sailing.

The findings – the general public think sailing is elitist, exclusive, expensive and dangerous. Team Australia in the America's Cup would have reinforced those perceptions.

A number of years ago Yachting Victoria developed Tackers - the AusKick of sailing. A fun, games based junior participation program to get kids on the water. With the tagline Kids and Boats = Fun, the Tackers program has achieved great success and has now been rolled out nationally. Investment could take it further.

At my yacht club we are fortunate enough to have a member who is a current Americas Cup sailor as well as numerous World and National champions. Over the last couple of seasons we have hosted some large national championships but, still like many other yacht clubs we ponder, think and struggle to keep youngsters in the sport. We have ideas, we have applied for funding as many yacht clubs have but so have the netball, soccer and footy clubs and that is hard to fight to win.

Imagine what an impact you could have on sailing using the funding set aside for the Americas Cup; fill the bays, lakes and waterways of Australia with sailors rather than jet skis.

Perhaps set up The Oatley Foundation to assist clubs develop their junior and youth programs and create a legacy for sailing that is long lasting; that directly touches lives of hundreds of thousands of Australians and affects their health and wellbeing.

The possibilities are endless and the benefits are enormous.

Glory is fleeting, a legacy is long lasting.

From a Laser sailing Mum of two Opti sailing daughters
Musto AUS 2017 660x82 4Abell Point Marina Splash 660x82Sail Exchange 660x82 Used Sails

Related Articles

America's Cup - Practice Session 4, Final day - on the water video
MyislandhomeBDA who has been doing an outstanding job with video coverage from Bermuda was invited on the water MyislandhomeBDA who has been doing an outstanding job with video coverage from Bermuda was invited on the water by Artemis Racing, and filed these reports on the final day of Practice Session 4 on the Great Sound, Bermuda. These videos are shot and produced by Jason Smith, who is living on the proverbial shoestring.
Posted today at 9:24 am
America's Cup - Artemis Racing emerging as Cup favorites
Out on Bermuda's Great Sound Artemis Racing are emerging as contenders to win the America's Cup Out on Bermuda's Great Sound, on a fast catamaran named Magic Blue, Iain Percy and his mates with Artemis Racing are emerging as contenders to win the America's Cup while honoring the memory of Andrew 'Bart' Simpson, who was killed in a training accident four years ago. Artemis is keeping Simpson in mind while quickly finding the sea legs it didn't get the chance to develop in the 2013 regatta.
Posted on 29 Apr
World Sailing Show - Video news - May 2017 - Volvo 65, America's Cup
May 2017 edition of World Sailing News, which this month features Volvo Ocean Race, America's Cup and more May 2017 edition of World Sailing News, which this month features: Winding the clock back on a Volvo 65 and taking a race boat that already has over 40,000 hard miles under its keel might not be your idea of a perfect start for another lap of the planet. But the newly refurbished fleet of Volvo 65s are better than new. We went to Portugal to find out how this can be so.
Posted on 29 Apr
America's Cup - All six teams race together for the first time
All six America’s Cup teams taking part for the first time on the racecourse that will be used in the 35th America’s Cup More America’s Cup Class (ACC) practice racing has been taking place on Bermuda’s Great Sound, now with all six America’s Cup teams taking part for the first time on the racecourse that will be used in the 35th America’s Cup. Emirates Team New Zealand were the last team to arrive in the home of the 35th America’s Cup and raced for the first time today with a 2-2 win/loss record.
Posted on 29 Apr
28th May announced as the America’s Cup Endeavour Day
The America’s Cup Endeavour Program is the America’s Cup’s ambitious youth sailing and educational program The America’s Cup Endeavour Program is the America’s Cup’s ambitious youth sailing and educational program, dedicated to inspiring everybody who engages with the initiative and to leaving a sporting legacy in Bermuda that has a strong, positive impact on the community.
Posted on 28 Apr
America's Cup Champion forced out of Practice Race session + Video
Russell Coutts' comments following the conclusion of Practice Session 4 will be illuminating Five-time America's Cup winner, Russell Coutts' comments following the conclusion of Practice Session 4 will be illuminating. After the conclusion of four days of the five days scheduled racing in Bermuda, the Oracle Team USA CEO may find some of his comments on previous sessions coming back to haunt him.
Posted on 28 Apr
America's Cup - Close call as Emirates TNZ takes a nosedive in Bermuda
Emirates Team New Zealand was caught in a gust recorded at 24.3kts and nosedived today in Bermuda. With fresh winds forecast to ease later in the day, Emirates Team New Zealand left the harbour at the Royal Dockyard to head for a training session. She was caught in a gust recorded at 24.3kts and nosedived.
Posted on 26 Apr
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ hooks up in Bermuda with Brits +Video
Emirates Team New Zealand were training again on the Great Sound in Bermuda, in fresh winds of over 25kts from the ESE. Emirates Team New Zealand were training again on the Great Sound in Bermuda, in fresh winds of over 25kts from the ESE. MyislandhomeBDA caught the America's Cup Challenger as they had their first real hook-up with another team - lining up against Britain's Land Rover BAR.
Posted on 25 Apr
America's Cup - Tom Slingsby explains optimal ride height
Ever wondered whether there is a difference between riding high or low in a foiling AC50? Ever wondered whether there is a difference between riding high or low in a foiling AC50? Does the old maxim with catamarans apply - that you are at your most efficient with the hull just clear of the water? At what point to AC50's start sliding sideways - like a Laser dinghy with its centreboard raised too high?
Posted on 25 Apr
America's Cup - Artemis Racing shifts into dog-fighting mode
The third round of America's Cup ACC practice racing got underway in Bermuda on Monday, April 24. The third round of America's Cup ACC practice racing got underway in Bermuda on Monday, April 24. Skipper Nathan Outteridge says Match Racing skills have always been a big part of a successful campaign and the team at Artemis Racing is now working hard at improving its “dog fighting” tactics.
Posted on 25 Apr