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Gabo. An island, or an acronym?

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail World AUS 24 Oct 2022 00:00 PDT
Playing with water. A trickle always becomes a stream, and its power grows with it © John Curnow

Perhaps it's even a state of mind? So somewhere around the Iron Age, the Foredeck Union T-shirt certainly had 'Got A Bit On' emblazoned on the back of it... Can't be sure, for it was a long time ago, but I think the front said 'Talk to me', or something along those lines.

Now the point to all this is simple; a spot of rain. 225mm in 24 hours, as it turns out, hence some of the imagery you see here. The importance being that it was sailing, and specifically ocean racing, that made me ultra-aware as to the real power of water. It certainly teaches you to keep an eye open.

So the GABO part to all of this was that sailing had also taught me a lot about preparedness. During the daylight hours I had sorted a lot of things, like cleared channels and gullies, shored up small embankments, and lifted grates, thereby allowing the water to have the freest access possible to keep going on its merry way. It was clear where it had come from, and it sure did have an idea on where it was going, so best not to be in its way. At all!

Undoubtedly, and the very thing that popped into my head as I was doing those things were the memories of when you have a few tonne of water come screaming over the bow and land on the deck when you're doing 20 knots or so. It's a lot more like life-size skittles, than the foaming green spyders it sort of looks like.

Playing around with water is always fun. It's why we do it, after all. The notion of mastering it leaves me thinking, do we ever? I tend to feel that it is in the constant learning where you can find the core essence of the sport of sailing. Definitely is for me, and this was the undeniable premise that caused this little ditty to come into being after spending last week looking at the iQFOiL World Championships in Brest, and most specifically, the young Australian team that was there having a red hot go.

Whilst I remember, well done to Steve Allen, the highest placed Australian, who finished in 28th place. The penultimate day, with 45 knots over the track, definitely fitted into this spiel, and of course, as always is the case, there was rain with it too. Yummy. To make sure everybody remembered it thus, the last day also carried on true to form, only allowing a small window for racing, which was grabbed wholeheartedly. Again, does this not make you think of our sport, where one seizes the opportunity, despite knowing what may occur? I would suggest so.

Alas, back to learning, and I have to thank coach Arthur Brett, sailors Grae Morris, Caelin Winchcombe, Jack Marquardt, Sammie Costin, and Amelia Quinlan for the opportunity to see inside their class, and absorb the skills, drive, and enthusiasm that have them take it on.

There are countless pieces on the site, many of them written by our Managing Editor, Mark Jardine, on the 'new' classes in the Olympics moving forward. He's absolutely nailed the reasons for their inclusion, and the demise of others. The thing I wanted to add to all of that, based on the new knowledge I have, is that all of these sailors spent time in craft like Optimists, Minnows, Laser/ILCAs, Flying 11s, 29ers, and earlier boards, such as the Bic Techno, and RS:X.

Now I may never go foiling on a board, for the flexibility is not what it might once have been. The comment twenty years and twenty-five kilos ago does sort of come to mind. However, in the very next breath I must point out the time Mark went out to try and gybe a WASZP in just the one day. So you just never know...

Notably, my newfound extra appreciation for what they do comes courtesy of comments like this one from Caelin Winchcombe. "Comparing it to the Laser/ILCA, one of the main areas is the time taken for a race. A downwind slalom race can take between three to five minutes, whereas normal Laser races are around one hour. You basically have all the same decisions to make as the Laser, just super compressed, and a lot faster paced. One small mistake, or momentary lapse can be the difference between the front and the back in the iQ."

As well as this one from Sammie Costin, who said, "I think one of the hardest aspects of this class to master is the multiple formats, and the different physical and mental requirements of each. Being confident in your ability to perform across all three racing disciplines (course, slalom, and marathon), and also being able to effectively reset and switch between them on water is something that I've found challenging. For many sailors, this regatta has highlighted this aspect as a very important part in performing at the top of this class."

We, the owners of this sport, if you will, must embrace the entire playing field, no matter from whence you cometh. In an Editorial from a time long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I wrote about what I called the 49er Old Boy's League. It was very simple. Could probably get off the beach. Maybe make the weather mark, but tears would soon flow thereafter. So the answer was to remove the complexity. Just have a wing mark.

A red hot reaching start was assured, and you knew where to place all the media and medical assets. Best of all, the higher up range the wind went, the more likely you were to have a total restart of this one lap wonder. Out there to the side you may even see the odd Steven Bradbury manoeuvre pulled off to the delight of all. Certainly would add to the bar karate later on.

So we've wandered along, and now it is time to go. Please keep expanding and embracing moving forward, for if it were not so, we'd still only have full keels, massive overhangs, and cotton rags. (And no I am not saying there is anything wrong with them, just highlighting how many options one now has.) OK. Summation. It is good to have a bit on. Idle hands and all...

OK. There it is. There is so much more on the group's sites for you. Simply use the search field, or 'edition' pull-down menu up the top on the right of the masthead to find it all. Please enjoy your yachting, stay safe, and thanks for tuning into

John Curnow
Editor, Sail World AUS

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