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Southern Spars

Is Sailing an Outdoor Sport?? Seems obvious, you'd think but not so...

by Rob Kothe on 11 Feb 2013
Ericsson 3 mastman Anders Dahlsjö on the foredeck - hardly being a couch potato Gustav Morin/Ericsson Racing Team/Volvo Ocean Race © http://www.volvooceanrace.org
Every now and then we need to step back and take a breath...

This week David Kellett, former CYCA Commodore, long time ISAF Vice President and Treasurer drew out attention to a great editorial by Molly Winans from the US publication Spinsheet about sailing being an outdoor sport.


Here is an extract from that editorial ... Every sailor I know is an outdoor guy, but few of us use the words 'outdoor' or 'outdoor recreation.' It’s as if we think that campers, backpackers, rock climbers, white-water rafters, and those who own crampons and ice axes own the copyright to them.

How strange to be a member of what some perceive as the elitist club of sailing and to realize that we’re not acknowledged by the giant retailers of the outdoor recreation world.

Now, you can say, who cares?

Who cares? I think that anyone who is concerned with the future of our sport should care. A quick keyword search of the October issue of Spinsheet, the largest one of the year, revealed only five mentions of the word 'outdoor' and 61 of the word 'marine.' I wonder what one would find if they searched the same keywords in other sailing publications?


We are in the marine industry, so that’s only natural, right? Perhaps in Climbing Magazine they have fewer mentions of the word 'outdoor' and more of 'boulder' or 'belay,' but I bet that the word 'out-door' gets more ink than sailors give it. It’s worth examining. It’s worth entertaining the thought that perhaps, we in the sport of sailing limit ourselves and build walls around our sport with language.

What if we made an effort, especially in print and digital formats, to replace our favourite words (marine, Corinthian, yacht race, regatta, commodore, clubhouse, and charter) with a few that would make sense and sound intriguing to non-sailors? A few ideas: waterfront, sportsmanlike, sailboat race, on-the-water challenge, sailing competition director, sail centre, sail-sport open house, sail travel, and sail fitness. How about 'novices welcome'?

What if we stopped talking like Thurston Howell III (from Gilligan’s Island) and started talking like cutting-edge outdoorsmen and women who are dedicated to inviting other fit, outdoorsy, adventurous, thrill-seeking, nature-loving, competitive people of all ages and backgrounds into our exciting outdoor world?


Good thinking Molly… this is exactly the same sentiment we express, but not as well as she has done, when we ask the skiffies to stop using heats when they mean races (as in the rest of the sporting world heats are elimination events, leading up to semis and finals.)

And now to the news...

TP52 Southern Cross Cup 2013 was obviously a roaring success, Sail-World`s reports from the event were read with interest world-wide.

Congratulations to all the owners, crews, organisers and race officials for a great event and to John Curnow, Lisa Ratcliff for their excellent report and Teri Dodds for her great photos.


The 18 foot skiffs scene moves towards the JJ Giltinan World Championships. Yesterday was race four of the NSW titles. The 18ft Skiff NSW Championship 2013 saw brilliant sailing from the Thurlow Fisher Lawyers skiff team of Michael Coxon, Trent Barnabas and David O’Connor, who gave a wonderful exhibition on Sydney Harbour today when they took out race four in an 18-25-knots South-East wind.

America's Cup Defender, Oracle Team USA and Challenger of Record, Artemis Racing (SWE) were both sailing in San Francisco, and the two sailed against each other for a brief time. Lots of great pix.

Lots of news this week, so enjoy the reports from outdoors!

North Technology - Southern SparsAncasta Ker 33 660x82upffront 660x82

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