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Bright lights at a dark time

by Mark Jardine 8 Mar 10:00 PST
Sailing stands in solidarity with Ukraine © with permission

It's difficult to know where to start when the situation in Ukraine dominates the headlines and our thoughts. We can all feel helpless when a despot leader seems hell-bent on destruction, and can see the pain and suffering inflicted on the Ukrainian people, but we can donate to the humanitarian organisations who have set up appeals, such as UNICEF, the Red Cross, or the Disasters Emergency Committee in the UK, and I strongly encourage you to do so if you can afford it.

It is a dark time, but sport is hugely beneficial to wellbeing and, as we've discussed so often before, sailing and being out on the water is the one of the greatest tonics for both body and mind. Around the world we are seeing some great racing action, and I also encourage you to get out and sail at your local club at the next opportunity.

Let's start with one of my favourite classes, the 18ft Skiffs, who are holding their world championship on Sydney Harbour: the JJ Giltinan Trophy. Many in Australia have been affected by terrible flooding, and the skiffs have been racing in some huge rain squalls, but the Andoo team of Seve Jarvin, Matt Stenta and Sam Newton have put on a masterclass in the first two races. The live video coverage from the racing is superb, and well worth a watch in the embedded video we add to our daily reports, as well as all the great pictures from this most photogenic of classes.

Tuesday's racing didn't happen due to more gales and rain on Sydney Harbour. The fleet did go out, but took a beating in gusts of up to 33 knots.

In the build-up to the championship, Frank Quealey often brings us some history from the class, and this time he told us the story of the event on Waitemata Harbour, Auckland in 1977 where a new type of boat changed the face of 18ft Skiff racing. The story also introduces a rookie who is now a legend in the sailing world.

The Caribbean racing season hasn't happened for a couple of years, so it was great to see Simpson Bay full of colour for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

This event attracts keen amateurs on small yachts, holidaymakers on charter yachts, up to the fully professional supermaxis, but has stuck with its ethos of 'serious fun'.

There's often debate as to whether week-long, weekend, or three-day is the best format for major events, but I'm more and more thinking that four-day events are the way forwards. This is the formula used at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and it seems to fit in with many people's idea of a good event.

If you're looking for the bright lights who will be the next Olympic stars, then look no further than your local 29er fleet. There are some seriously talented youngsters in this class and it's an exciting boat to sail. Julian Bethwaite designed the two-person performance skiff in the late '90s and it looks just as good today as it did back then.

This past weekend saw 37 boats take part in the Allen 29er Grand Series event at the WPNSA, the Olympic sailing venue in 2012. We embedded a couple of the videos from the racing which are really worth a watch for some fine boat-handling, especially the spinnaker drops at the final mark in race 3 before the reach to the finish.

It's also Bacardi Cup time at Biscayne Bay, Miami, with 58 Stars opening the show in picture-perfect conditions and a breeze of 14-16 knots.

Regatta Chair Mark Pincus said, "The weather is going to be phenomenal this week. There should be some great times out on the water with a great week of races and competition that we have been missing over the last couple of years. Year in year out, everyone wants to come back and sail Bacardi because they have so much fun as well as great competition."

Class legends Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Bruno Prada took the win in the first race and will be tough to beat, even though there are a host of the world's top sailors in the fleet.

The J/70, Melges 24, Viper 640, VX One and 69F fleets start their racing at the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta on Thursday.

Moving back to the UK, the last weekend of February saw the return of the Dinghy Show, at the new venue in Farnborough, Hampshire. I'm still working through the content I gathered, but one of the boats which caught everybody's eye was the new MD3 International Moth on the Ovington Boats stand. Sporting an AC75-style bustle and taking aero to a new level, I spoke to Kyle Stoneham to find out more.

It was great to be judging for the Concours d'Elegance Boat of the Show again, and Glen Truswell became the first two-time winner of the prestigious trophy, this time with his Sleeping Tiger International Canoe dinghy, after his International 14 'Scrumpet' won in 2016.

So, let's celebrate all that is bright and beautiful about sailing and being out on the water. Enjoy and appreciate the feeling of freedom it gives us, while keeping in mind those who are fighting for their freedom and sovereignty in Ukraine. We stand by them, and they are very much in our thoughts.

Mark Jardine
Sail-World.com and YachtsandYachting.com Managing Editor

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