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Lower than Badminton

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 28 Apr 15:00 PDT
KZ-5 and KZ-7 at the 12 Metre North American Championship 2012 © SallyAnne Santos / Windlass Creative

And yes, I am aware that a badminton net is reasonably high. I did used to like to play the game, for it was a bit like golf. Whack it, and it really did not matter to the object of your energy, could more than likely make it worse actually. Finesse it, and it could all be smiles. Given at that time I was trying to serve lightning bolts in tennis like Rosco Tanner, the juxtaposition was really intriguing.

Now the headline reflects more on yachting's standing or ranking in media coverage. Yep, that'd be underneath badminton. It is something that is omnipresent to me in this field of endeavour. When you think about how much of Europe and Asia play the game it is not too hard to appreciate.

For sure things have changed over time, but just by how much? Are we guilty of flogging a horse already well on the way to the knackery? Or is it a case of applying the gel to the paddles, yelling 'stand clear', and then subsequently continuing on with the CPR?

Soon we may get to answer all this. Certainly I am watching World Sailing trying to shoehorn the 'offshore event' into the 2024 Games with great anticipation, for if you read these miscellaneous ramblings even infrequently, then you'll know I want this one to succeed. Yet prior to all that we have Round Two of the SailGP.

Yes Sydney proved the concept was good, the timing was spot on, and the elapsed time of each race was roughly equivalent to the modern era's attention span. No five-hour 12m races to be had here, but then just look at the rise and rise of that class once more... At any rate, it was probably the wind that let the event down the most, and in the same breath you would have to say the disparity in the foiling time of the crews.

So here we are at SF, where the breeze is expected to be much more, and there have been 10 more days of training allowed. Will it be enough to close the 2:4 gap? We shall see, but in the meantime I know the coverage team have been rejigging their scenario too, and this should be well received, for it was an area that was slammed pretty hard during and after Round One.

So yes, it has been made more punter-friendly, but was that at the cost of being sailor-friendly? Many did not like the sailors doing no sail changes, being X-Box heads more than trimmers, and where a 15m sprint was ranked higher on your CV than results at a sailing World Championship.

Then immediately you come to the building participation issue, but alas, as we have said on the pages before, you don't need to know what stabbing the brakes on hard at the 50m board is all about, or being fit enough to endure multiple G-Forces in repeated corners lap after lap is like, to go and see F1. Already social sailing outweighs windward/leewards at every club I can think of, so does it matter if we are not trying to make a new batch of crusty the sailor?

Think of it. We have been doing exactly that for ages, and it has not worked. You could even say it has been counter productive, so at what point are you happy to jump ship and see what happens? Does it matter if sailing of the 70s is not the sailing of today? I think not. Women were not involved, and they had to buy drinks through a whole in the wall and sit in another room at many a club I can name right now. We have moved on with all of that, thankfully, so perhaps we can do the same with what is appealing, and what will grow the sport in all of its many manifestations. So yes, for me, I am delighted to see such a marked and deliberate change, and may it work. Just glad I am not the one writing the cheques...

So talking of growing the sport and offering new ways to participate, the first iteration of the National Sailing League in Australia took place over the weekend. Obviously a format that worked in Europe, it was offered for clubs around Australia and New Zealand.

Adrian Finglas is the Head Coach at the Royal Brighton Yacht Club (also no stranger to youth programmes and coaching), and they took a youth team of three boys and two girls, all aged 15-18 years to participate in what has clearly been a successful event. Laura Harding is the helmer, Laura Thompson on headsail, Charlie Dickson on kites, James Grogan on main, and Lachie Grogan is on the bow. James is a 420 representative at the worlds, and so to is Harding. Indeed all of them have their roots in 420s.

Finglas said, "RBYC jumped in early, and saw it is an important club thing to do. We could not be happier with their overall result given they were sailing against pros and people with much time in the Elliott 7s. Time away is not just about sailing, but their personal growth to, so they can become great young Australians. Living away from home and without Mum and Dad is all part of it. There is a similar event in China that we may go to. The format suits young people as it is fast and furious (12-minute races) and no equipment required. It is the way of the future."

Mark Turnbull OAM is one of the founders of the NSL for Oceania. As a former Gold Medallist, he knows a bit about lots of short races, and commented during the event, "Everyone is enjoying the format, which was 45 races long, and then we go into the final, which is one to four races depending on outcomes. We have run this final now, so that the winners can use their entitlements to go over and compete in the European finals."

"Next season will expand out the system, which is a league format across each State in Australia and also New Zealand, at a club level. There are three different levels of racing, and your results will be accumulated as points that go into a ladder. There is the local, intra-club events for small fleets, and we will provide them with assistance. Then there are the State league events, which are inter-club for six to 24 clubs, and there are more points on offer for doing well there."

"The national level is what we have been doing over the weekend here at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. We have a Youth category (21 and under), a women's fleet (open age) and then Open, which is mixed, but with a minimum of one female or better still, two and two."

"As we move forward this year, we will be offering six RS21s that will be known as the New Tack league fleet, and they can fit into a 40-foot container to go anywhere. This way, no club is excluded and it also levels things out a bit, as they are not a class too widely used here. They will also be made available for race weeks, so that people can opt for a Fly In/Fly Out scenario, which ties into the whole mission," Turnbull finished with.

Short notes now, and I could not help thinking of Prince Rogers Nelson, you know the Artist formerly known as Prince, when looking at the whole situation surrounding the much-maligned Laser. Henceforth the craft is to be known as the ILCA Dinghy, as the now banished LPE own the old trademark. To me this was sad, for it says that in the entire world of particle physics the powers that be could not find one word that would serve as the new name. Alas, remember, when the vessel when created it was known as the Weekender... Just saying. Perhaps Muon or Quark may have worked, even a made up word that sounded all sciencey...

Finishing up, and it was good to have a brief chat with Noel Drennan from North Sails, who is the OD Manager in Sydney. Apart from being deeply involved with the Etchells, Nitro is "...still doing the Super Series with 52 known as Alegre," where he's the main trimmer, "..and also looking at things to come, as there will be plenty of interest with 75th Hobart this Christmas."

Right oh - here today there are some gems for you to review. We have information about the Clipper, The Ocean Race, intel from North Sails, gear from Zhik, Edmond de Rothschild, Spindrift2 to have another go at the Jules Verne, skiffs a plenty, racing in Antigua, Sir Robin and the celebrations including Jean-Luc, the AC, St Barths, and certainly there is much, much more.

Remember, if your class or association is generating material, make sure we help you spread your word, and you can do that by emailing us. Should you have been forwarded this email by a friend, and want to get your very own copy in your inbox moving forward, then simply follow the instructions on our newsletter page, where you can also register for different editions.

Finally, keep a weather eye on Sail-World. We are here to bring you the whole story from all over the world...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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