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The big question

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 1 Aug 2021 15:00 PDT
The first new flying IMOCA launched with the Ocean Race in mind - One of two boats entered by 11th Hour Racing © Amory Ross / 11th Hour Racing

And that would be, 'Who will win?' Now just for the moment we are not talking Olympics, but rather World Sailing's 11th Hour Racing Sustainability Award. So it could be you, your club, class, federation, company or your regatta that gets the nod. The trick is that you have to get your nominations in by September 10, 2021. N.B. It's August now... (so do get a wiggle on please).

Now the award has only been around since 2018, and has already attracted over 100 entries in total, so you're kind of in with a one in 33 chance, which is not so bad in this type of thing. It is all built around World Sailing's Sustainability Agenda 2030 and you can download that here.

It's all about celebrating the effective execution of high-impact, highly replicable sustainability initiatives aligned to that agenda, and it is all about the achievement itself, not the scale of the programme undertaken. Last year Starboard won it for reclaiming 1.1kg of plastic for every board produced through their Plastic Offset Program. The previous year was The Green Blue/RYA, and the inaugural year went to the Corpus Christi Yacht Club (Texas) for the way they delivered the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships. So as you can see the recipients are as wide and varied as the very problem this award is taking aim at.

An expert panel of World Sailing officials, 11th Hour Racing staff and sustainability experts will assess the nominations and decide on a shortlist of four. Just last year a public vote section was included in the calculations, and this will open on 1 October 2021, and the winner will then be announced at the 2021 World Sailing Awards.

This is something definitely gaining more than traction, as people realise it is mission critical. 350 sailors from 65 nations assembled at Enoshima for the Olympic Games and all understood the importance of ensuring a sustainable future for our sport via protection of the world's waterways. What benefits our sport also provides better options for future generations of sports men and women.

One who is very keen to see single use plastic removed from our daily lives is 2012 Silver Medallist and 2016 Gold Medallist, GBR's Hannah Mills. "Protecting and preserving the world's waterways, the oceans, rivers, lakes, dams, everything is incredibly important. The ocean in particular sustains all of us. It sustains all life on Earth and produces 50% of the oxygen we breathe, and it's a massive carbon sink. So, all that CO2 we're producing, it absorbs a lot of it, but it's struggling, and our actions are essentially killing it. And without the ocean, we won't be here. So what more is that to say? It is it's imperative to human life."

"I think sport has a huge role to play in terms of accelerating the change we need to combat climate change. And I think sailing is really well positioned to do that through ocean racing to inshore racing at the Olympics. Encouraging more people to start their journey in terms of understanding the sustainability challenges would be an amazing thing." QED me thinks... Key date to remember, September 10, 2021.

Who's open? Who's not! And when will they be???

Ah yes. Mighty big question the latter. As for the former ones, well that is a lap of the gods sort of thing. Sydney no, Melbourne sort of, and Brisbane not right now... Prior to Brisbane and SE Queensland having a snap lockdown, I had been reviewing the whole migratory boats and crew thing, and impact that this could have on Race Weeks like Airlie Beach and the ubiquitous Hamilton Island, and then discussing it with people like Rob Mundle.

Glenn Bourke manages the island, and said to me, "Our ambition has always been to hold it if we can. We can all do with the fun. We've been looking for Queensland based race management to help out with the load, but a final decision has not been made. We want to offer a low key regatta in context of 'if you can make it, we'll run it', so we'll see how it pans out."

Just like any good, close race with a photo finish, you can take it all as, Decision Pending! If the Queensland thing goes well South, then all bets could be off. If it the lockdown works, then they'll keep rolling.

Glenn Bourke is also the spiritual grandfather, or esteemed deity of the Laser squad here in Australia. I spoke with him immediately after Matt Wearn's success at Enoshima. "It is great inspiration on many levels. To think that the competition we had back in the day has set the tone for things to come is terrific. When I look at the boats, their beauty and simplicity, and how that makes it all become a true test of the sailor - I love that."

"It is wonderful to be a part of the dynasty, and I am delighted the competition has kept rolling for all this time. Wearn was fun to watch, and the coverage on the boat, on the course, the graphics, and to see the decisions being made real time just makes me want to go back and sail again. I have real passion rekindled by these guys. Simply brilliant for Matt and the country. So delighted for him and his team. How proud are you as an Australian?"

"Winning helps your confidence for sure. This sort of thing opens up so many opportunities all across the board, and will be just one of many great things to come for Matt."

"What a joy, and all credit to him to be able to sail the final the way that he did. Hopefully young kids saw it, and get inspired to be the next generation to come. I have been watching them all on Pittwater this week, and I know why they're out there..."

Actually it's no question

Wearny has really done something special here after a less than auspicious start to his regatta. A broken vang and the odd turn makes for lowly places in the fleet racing. After securing a 22 point advantage I was asked by non-sailors what it all meant, and I said to them, to be where he is now is the equivalent of showing up to the pool for the final, and all he has to do is get to the other end and collect the Gold he so thoroughly deserves. WOW!

As we just saw, the legacy in this class for Australia goes back to Glenn Bourke, the super sharp and determined Michael Blackburn (who is Matt Wearn's coach now), then the legendary Tom Slingsby, and the ultra-talented Tom Burton. Matt Wearn joins a very, very special class of sailors and Australians. Hats off to him and the Australian Sailing Team for making it happen again. Respect.

You could say that it is only possible because of all the sailors underneath who elevate the named sailor to go on to do their best, and one day may get their turn at the top.... So take a bow Luke Elliott, Mitch Kennedy, Finn Alexander et al.

I have been afforded marvellous access to the AST in the lead up to these Games, for which I am so utterly grateful. They are a Class Act throughout the eight boats they competed in, and there is no doubt that this is a direct result of the esprit de corps created by the Big Fella, who has the title, Tokyo Olympic Campaign Director, and is named Iain Murray.

Right oh - there is plenty of information on the group's sites 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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