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New beginnings

by Mark Jardine 7 Feb 10:00 PST
Stu Bithell & Dylan Fletcher at the RYA Dinghy Show © Paul Wyeth / RYA

In a little under three weeks the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show will be taking place at Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre on 26th & 27th February. This will be a new beginning for the traditional UK dinghy season opener, and this year will encompass more than just dinghies, reflecting the change in our on-the-water habits.

The 2020 show, the last at Alexandra Palace, seems like a lifetime ago. This was just before the pandemic hit, and was lucky to take place at all. We were told to regularly use the hand sanitiser dispensers around the halls and either fist bump or tap elbows to greet each other. We all knew a cloud was on the horizon, but little did we know just how big a storm it was.

Since then of course we've been through a lot and habits have changed. As we've discussed before, boating has seen a boom which couldn't have been predicted, and probably wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the pandemic, with people taking to the water in numbers never seen before.

Dinghy sailing has changed, with club sailing taking centre stage, and those clubs which adapted have seen membership boom, and are thriving. It's now up to us all to continue to learn from what has worked and roll that out to moribund clubs which need a boost to survive.

I'm really hoping the new venue and focus for the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show is going to be a success. There could well be reticence from some potential visitors to coming to the show. We've spent so much of the past two years in small groups, avoiding crowds, that it has become the norm. I for one am really looking forward to seeing what Farnborough International looks and feels like, and won't in any way whatsoever miss the drive around the A406 North Circular to get to Alexandra Palace...

The Dinghy Show is a great way to meet up with friends from other classes and see first-hand what developments have been happening in the sport. Be that new ways of rigging a spinnaker, funky fittings that can make adjusting jib trim easier, and of course taking a look at those incredible paint jobs on some of the boats. I've been involved in judging the Concours d'Elegance for Boat of the Show since the award was started and can't wait to see the line-up this year.

When it comes to great looking boats, the Historical 18 Footers take some beating, and they recently held their Australian Championship on Sydney Harbour, racing for the Galloping Ghost trophy.

These may be museum pieces, but no-one seems to have told the crews that, who race them fast and hard. Nine of the classics took part in the event with Grant Wakefield's team on Yendys taking the win by a single point from John Winning's team on The Mistake.

They don't just roll these out for the big events - Historic 18 Footer skiff racing takes place every Saturday from October to April - and long may it continue!

The modern 18ft Skiffs are now taking part in the 100th Australian 18 Footers Championship, with the team of Seve Jarvin, Matt Stenta and Sam Newton on Andoo putting in a masterclass performance so far, recording three wins in the five races so far and not dropping off the podium in either of the other two races. The final two races will be held on Sunday (13th February).

The big one is of course the JJ Giltinan World Championship, taking place in early March on Sydney Harbour, which we will of course be bringing you all the news from.

Behind the scenes we've had a new beginning of our own and have been working hard in upgrading the experience on the and websites. Last week we moved to a new cloud server with a far faster connection to the internet backbone and the ability to increase power as and when needed. It's been no small undertaking, but the opportunities it provides are huge. Changing technology isn't always smooth sailing, but as with all tech businesses, if you don't move forward, sooner or later you begin to move backward.

With this move we've laid a strong foundation for the future to help ensure we have a fair tide beneath us with the new features we have planned in 2022 and beyond. As always, please send us your feedback with what you'd like to see us do more of.

Mark Jardine and Managing Editor

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