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As I read the news that Team Australia has withdrawn as Challenger of Record for the America's Cup I cheered quietly to myself.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When I heard that Team Australia had withdrawn I cheered; because there lies before you an opportunity to affect more change at the grassroots of sailing than ever before.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
Pacific Sailing School 660x82 1Bakewell-White Yacht DesignAbell Point Marina 660x82 Moor

Related Articles

2017 America's Cup tickets will go on sale on 9th December
Six teams, representing USA, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, France, Sweden, will race incredible hydrofoiling yachts The six teams, representing the USA, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, France and Sweden, will race incredible hydrofoiling yachts on a stadium-style racecourse on Bermuda’s Great Sound which will make the events in Bermuda among the hottest tickets in world sport in 2017.
Posted on 6 Dec
America's Cup - Land Rover BAR part-transition to Bermuda
The team now start the transition of sailing operations from Portsmouth to Bermuda. The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series is over and Land Rover BAR have two vital bonus points forward into the next stage of the competition for the 35th America’s Cup. The team now start the transition of sailing operations from Portsmouth to Bermuda. About fifty per cent of the team will move to Bermuda
Posted on 5 Dec
America’s Cup Endeavour Junior Hobie Wave Race to be held in Bermuda
Teams from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand and Sweden will race in Bermuda. Hobie has provided Waves for the use of school-aged kids in Bermuda, New York, Chicago, and Toulon. The kids see the America’s Cup boats and then the Hobie Wave and instantly get the connection.
Posted on 5 Dec
America's Cup - Kiwi lodges Appeal against Jury in San Francisco Cup
Former Oracle Team USA crew member, Matthew Mitchell (NZL) has lodged an Appeal against a Decision to dismiss his case Former Oracle Team USA crew member, Matthew Mitchell (NZL) has lodged an Appeal against a Decision to dismiss his case taken against the International Jury for the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco. On October 28, 2016, US District Judge Vince Chhabria dismissed Mitchell's claim against the five-person International Jury on the basis that it was lodged too late.
Posted on 2 Dec
America's Cup - Tech Tuesday - AC50 One Design sails by Norths + Video
North Sails are making all the soft sails for the 2017 America's Cup fleet. North Sails are making all the soft sails for the 2017 America's Cup fleet. In this Tech Tuesday feature, Oracle Team USA shows the sails being made as a batch at North Sails facility at Minden Nevada.
Posted on 1 Dec
America's Cup - Video tour of an AC45S by Artemis Racing
Crew member Francesco Bruni gives an exclusive tour inside the cockpit of the team's first development boat, Turbo 1 Artemis Racing crew member Francesco Bruni gives an exclusive tour inside the cockpit of the team's first development boat, Turbo 1. Skipper, Nathan Outteridge, provides an update on the state of play with less than 8 months to go to the finals of AC35, and Loick Peyron provides the inspiration to a squad of young aspiring sailors in Toulon
Posted on 1 Dec
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ claims vital Cup date has been missed
In an apparent oversight, no dates or notice of coordinated sailing between teams were ever published by the due date Due to an apparent oversight, no dates or notice of coordinated sailing between competitors were ever published by the due date and now all teams are prevented from testing, or sailing in an organised fashion with each other in the AC Class yachts. This may affect the strategies of the teams who planned on training together in Bermuda in their AC50 yachts when they are launched
Posted on 25 Nov
America's Cup - The State of Play - Ben Ainslie Land Rover BAR
It's almost exactly three years since Ben Ainslie committed to forming his own America's Cup racing team It's almost exactly three years since Ben Ainslie committed to forming his own racing team to challenge for the 35th America's Cup. Now with the America's Cup World Series complete – and two points in the bag – and Land Rover BAR's move of sailing operations to Bermuda underway, Ben talked to Mark Chisnell about the state of play.
Posted on 25 Nov
Gladwell's Line- America's Cup World Series exposes Team NZ soft spot
A look at the nine event America's Cup World Series and what the teams can take out of it for 2017 Emirates Team NZ was not able to pull back the points deficit in the final round in Fukuoka, Japan, and emerged without any Qualifier points from a largely pointless series. For sure the exhibition racing pulled spectators at the venues. But as a TV event, it only served to burn off the sailing fans, and races taking 12-15 minutes are not an indicator of form for the upcoming America's Cup.
Posted on 25 Nov
America's Cup - Land Rover BAR tops leaderboard in Japan
The Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Fukuoka was the final event of nine in the Series. The first America's Cup racing in Asia proved a success on all levels. The Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Fukuoka was the final event of nine in the Series. The results in Japan would determine the bonus points awarded for next year in Bermuda at the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers.
Posted on 21 Nov