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Do jump on board

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 15 Sep 2019 15:00 PDT
The trail-able L30 has been chosen by World Sailing as the one design keelboat to be used in the Rolex Middle Sea race which will be the inaugural World Offshore Championship © L-30 Association

Two weeks ago in All aboard the bandwagon! we looked at the new Offshore event that will be part of the 2024 Paris (Marseilles) Olympics. Nick from Hobart was one who expressed his own opinion, and was kind enough to allow me to share his sentiments here. I have broken those down into sections, and then spoke with the Vice-Chair of World Sailing's Oceanic & Offshore Committee, Matt Allen, to build complete responses, and hopefully answer any remaining questions.

Equality.

Nick stated, "The Olympics is supposed to be for everyone. So any Muslim nation is automatically excluded because a man and a woman, unless married, can't spend 48 to 72 minutes together unchaperoned, let alone 48 to 72 hours on a boat!"

All of that is true, and we have come a long way on equality in the sport of sailing. Matt Allen added, "The Olympic sailing event schedules have changed. We are trying to get to the point of complete gender equality, where there are an equal number of medals on offer, and also an equal number of participants."

The next two Olympiads are all about the balance, with all sports having to comply with Agenda 2020. In Paris 2024 it is likely that there will be a proper gender balance for the first time, so who would be against that. As for Tokyo 2020 Allen added, "I think the Australian Olympic Team will be comprised by just over 50% as female athletes come next August."

Australian women have taken to sailing massively in the last decade. The younger generations are closer to balance than the older ones. Membership and participation statistics back this up. "We are closing the gap. We are gone from 90/10 to more like 60/40 or 70/30, depending on where you are looking." Note that the sample size is 105,000 people, and from 0-24 years it's 60/40 (M/F), to 25-65 years - 70/30, and then 65+yo - 80/20.

Viewing/Media and Speed

Nick said, "They can hardly cover the 100 metres freestyle without going to a super slo-mo package of a hand touching a wall. It's not the attention span of the viewers. It's the producers and sponsors that are crying out for scene-jumping endless 'action' (i.e. cheap replays)."

Again, true enough, but if you look to the AC in Bermuda, would you have known that the boats were doing 35 or even 45 knots without the instrumentation? Still and motion imagery never capture wind speed or wave height like the naked eye, let alone what the face of a wave is relative to the back of it.

Allen agreed, adding, "With what was the VOR and also the Vendée, there were spectators aplenty and enormous group of people watching and participating in virtual races. It is not hours of endless viewing, but more about stuff to come back too, just like chess."

"The Olympic Broadcasting Services think the offshore event will be massive, and obviously it plays very well into time zone differentials. Sailing has to move up from Class D to certainly C and hopefully along the way B, this and other event changes are all part of that strategy."

Nick also commented, "When kids see our Olympic sailors performing at the highest level on free-to-air, we get a boost in numbers into Tackers courses. That's the future."

Again, this is true, and we only have to go back to London, where sailing was so successful for Australia. "The pick up in sailing after this was quite evident. We benefitted from increased participation, a direct acknowledgment from the general public. This has been rare in the history of sailing and Olympics, and is one of the mainstays of our overall campaign."

Costs

"There are only a handful of nations that can afford a program of a brand new 30 footers. All the smaller, poorer countries are automatically excluded just by cost. Give us Lasers, Finns, Nacras and 9ers", Nick passionately commented. Yet inside that very comment are two fundamental errors.

1. The 30-footers are being paid for by World Sailing

2. Harking back to Nick's very first point, please tell me the developing nations with Nacra programmes? - these are expensive, as too are the Finns. A review of the countries fielding teams in these classes at the recent Ready Steady Tokyo event will attest to this very point.

Now a 9er is not cheap, just ask any parent who forgoes a new car to put their child on the water, and a World Championship Moth is USD50k.

As mentioned, World Sailing is providing L30s in the first instance. Allen spoke to this, "Developing nations are able to go down the path to qualification, and the equipment is supplied. It is not chequebook racing at all; there is no development; it is pure OD, and there will be no tricking up allowed. You trim, steer, and pick your course around track - and that's it!"

Age

"The best person will get the nod, irrespective of age. Would you exclude Torben Grael for instance? If Colin Beashel wanted to make it seven Olympics and qualified, would you stop him? Brad Butterworth was like 50 when he won the AC. But have a look at all our sailors in so many classes, and then consider Andrew Hoy in equestrian, who is planning on going to Tokyo, or Mary Hanna who went to Rio."

"Whether they are 20, 30, 40 or over 50, the best male and female will get to wear the green and gold. Plain and simple", said Allen in closing.

Change of Tack - Is Wally an apparition?

In August we had our first enquiry about the 'new' SuperFoiler regime in Where's Wally? We subsequently thought we had Found Wally. However it must have been an apparition, just like Predator hanging out in the trees in the jungle. So we went looking for more answers...

Whoever owns them can put them through the woodchipper if they want. After all, they are now theirs to do whatever they fancy with. Yet this would be a real shame, for many sailors and enthusiasts love them. I'm probably still enamoured with them for the way they hark back to the flying boat era, and I have certainly written enough about them over time like these examples: - SuperFoilers are Go!,JATO 1, JATO 2, and finally Big Bang.

At the time of 'Found Wally', Steve Thomas said I would get a call. I have not. I wrote to the nominee, Mark Williams at Delcor, and showed him what I had written and wanted to know. What I can now say from talking with several parties known to the new owners is that Michael Firmin is the man in charge. So please Mr Firmin, let us help you get the good word out to thereby ensure the life of the project, as clearly we have been here for the long haul. Just saying...

Final one and in...

SailGP hots up to thermo-nuclear soon, and the first round of the second year has also been announced for Sydney at the end of February. SailGP's Regatta Director, Iain Murray, confirmed as he was leaving for Marseilles that he is contracted for three years and is very much looking forward to it all, even if his focus was a bit more closely refined on the South of France right now.

Right oh - here today there are some gems for you to review like not just one, but two AC75s, Royal Sydney win the NYYC Invitational, GC32s, Moth UK Nationals, intel from North Sails, SailGP, How do AUS sailors get to the Olympics?, Black Jack emerges from her makeover, Laser Masters Worlds, Flying Fifteens, The Ocean Race, Clipper, Yacht Racing Forum, 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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