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Can I get sauce with that please?

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 20 Jun 15:00 PDT
Conrad Colman shows his diet of onboard cress and liferaft biscuits, with a splash of sauce © Conrad Colman / Foresight Energy / Vendée Globe

Probably going to need lashings of tomato sauce, or a massive pile of mint jelly, to help that sandwich go down. Which sandwich, precisely? Well that would be the IOC not seeing the brilliance of the Mixed Offshore event for Paris 2024, and beyond. Looks like it might have been just the one soul who could not envisage the deal, but at any rate, it is what it is.

Alas, some who did see the light included terribly significant heads inside the major TV networks, and they are the ones who pay for the whole shebang anyway. One would even go on record as calling the fledging event an absolute game changer, especially in its revised, close-in format. And I am thinking sawn off shotguns and perimeter security in relation to that. As the Americans say, "Go figure?!" I simply want to say, "Riddle me that, Batman!" Me thinks one person has waaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy to much power. Like that's never occurred before, either...

We end up with the Y and Z axes over-represented, and then a glaring black hole for the X where the largest participation sector resides, all huddling together under Harry Potter's Cloak of Invisibility. To say nothing from the equipment side, where a couple of grandpa's old axes (intended) are as visible as the proverbial section of a stud dog's anatomy. Talk about bringing a knife to a gunfight!!!

(And before you start typing, I am not ageist, anti-kite or board, or a million other things I am bound to be accused of. I used the image of Florian here, because I remember him from Sail Melbourne moons and moons ago, where I talked not only about him, but how well the kites did, and how good it was to have them when the uprange squirt meant all the other classes remained on the beach.)

At any rate, our Managing Editor, Mark Jardine, covered off a lot of valuable aspects and lessons in his editorial last week. So now it's my turn, and having swallowed it all down like a good boy, with thanks for all that sauce because it was most certainly needed, let's now look to the positives that have come about as a result of it all. Yes. They are there.

Momentum, leverage, clout

Short-handed is expanding the world over, so the critical mass is already there, and Covid has just made it so much more prolific again. The discipline of mixed double-handed has created a resurgence globally in a number of areas, including bringing in more people to the equation generally. As a different pursuit than may have been offered previously, it just shows how diverse this sport for life really is. Remember, whether you're nine or 90, there are loads of people going for a yacht in whichever way they choose.

There have been savings in crew costs and associated gear for them, such as life rafts, for instance. Fascinating, different, and great boats have been created for it, and there are more boats on the water, and more boats in races as a result.

It is a huge move forward, and in some ways looks a lot like the 70s and 80s, when lots of new 30 footers came out (quarter and half tonners). No, I am not trying to say that pinched transoms, curved topsides that would make any song by Queen blush and face instant discrimination suits, let alone Diesels placed in front of the mast are on the way back.

I am simply saying that it has created evolution. We now have fast, easy-to-sail boats with vastly different performance characteristics, and they're better able to sail at all points. Sure they'll have issues, like heading uphill in no breeze and facing a residual seaway, but this is exciting. We are seeing true race boats being built once more, they're different and at a more approachable price point than their big sisters.

Boats, rigs, sails, boat handling, and technology are all happening a quick pace. The Rules of Racing will become an even sharper point of focus as this all unfolds, especially with regard to the latter section.

'Fire hose' boats are hard to steer in heavy weather. Look at the latest IMOCA variants over earlier variants to see how they are being protected whilst steering, let alone raise the ire of the really remarkable electronic device, FRED, aka the autohelm. Even a 30-something can have a triple head configuration, which might make many think back to the Cutty Sark, but in reality it is just like some of those races, where it doesn't matter whether you're going backwards or forwards, as long as you've got movement.

The reality is that the spectre of the mixed offshore has possibly brought it all forward by a decade or so. Another brilliant aspect is that World Sailing approved it, even if the IOC knocked it on the head. So yes. Let's celebrate what's already here, and what's to come.

Get it back on for 2032 possibly?

The IOC board has approved Brisbane, and sent it to a vote, which is a big seal of approval. In a month or so we'll know that outcome. The list of events is well and truly up for grabs for that one. So what will happen along the way? Will the 470 and ILCA survive? Will the over representation in boards and kites misrepresent the sport, or be some unforeseen boon? (And if you come from a red ball nation you just have to say "David" every time you use that last word.)

If it is Brisbane, and if the Offshore gets up, then imagine seeing it all unfold in the 74 islands of the Whitsundays with wind, tide, and glamorous views to show the world, and loads of obscured bricks to make it truly interesting...

Do I get an elephant stamp? Perhaps even a fabled golden ticket from Wonka himself?

In the sub section entitled, 'Still no joy', from the editorial C43, but it's not an AMG that goes back to December 2020, we spoke about Sydney being a round of SailGP before 2021 closes out. Indeed avid readers will know we had been postulating about the shape and nature of the SailGP calendar for a bit before then, as well. (Big shout out to Dale for her lovely note to me on the day the Sydney round was announced...)

In that piece we stated, "Coming Downunder fits in well seasonally, and with sooooooooo many Antipodeans racing in the circuit they're guaranteed support. So come on Larry and Russell. How about it?" Mark Jardine wrote, "The natural amphitheatre of the Harbour made for a spectacular scene and the racing was superb."

Well, it has been heard, and how! Nine lives indeed. Get your Christmas shopping done early. Block out your calendar for December 17 and 18, because it's time to go and watch SailGP's F50s go fleet racing for eight at warp speed. Remember, the big 24m rigs are on offer, so even if it is light, there should be enough grunt to make it truly worthwhile. Giddy Up!

North Sails Open Day in Sydney

In finishing, just a quick note to say that the North Sails Open Day is being held at their Sydney loft in Mona Vale on July 3rd from 10am to 3pm. It's an informal gathering to show people how sails are made, there'll be several dinghies displayed, like Finns, and OKs, quite probably the new 3Di 49er and FX sails, North Sails kiteboarding gear, North Sails technical gear, and some talks - OD panels and cruising seminars.

Plus big names dropping in to add further colour, also sail repair demonstrations, including vacuum bag 3Di sails, and sailmakers talking directly with interested parties as they move about the loft, all in a low-key manner. Even food trucks and other amenities have all been organised. RSVP here.

Right oh - there is plenty of information on the group's websites for you to review when you can. Please avail yourself of it.

Now if your class or association is generating material, please submit your material. Got this newsletter from a friend? Would you like your own copy next week? Just follow the instructions on our newsletter page. Whilst there, you can also register for other editions, like Powerboat-World.

Finally, many thanks for making Sail-World your go-to choice. We're always here to keep pumping out the news. Stay safe, and enjoy your time on the water.

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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