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Grabbing chances with both hands

by Mark Jardine 30 Apr 09:30 PDT
Keyhaven Yacht Club Early Afternoon Series Race 3 © Mark Jardine

There's been no getting away from the fact that it's been a pretty miserable start to 2024 weather-wise in the UK. February saw record rainfall (yes, I know we're famed for our rain over here), it's been seriously windy and generally chilly.

On the face of it, that's bad news for sailing, but I've observed a strange phenomenon. More people seem to be getting out on the water when they can, and that in turn is getting people into the habit of regular sailing.

In these editorials I often talk about sailing at my local club, what the mood is, how people are engaging with the water, and the signs are encouraging. Early season race training was well attended, the issues we had last year with not enough volunteers for race duty seem to have receded and the atmosphere is buoyant.

On Sunday I was Race Officer for our early afternoon series, and even though the conditions overnight and through the morning were atrocious, and winds were gusting to 25 knots, we still had a good turnout. People are finding the windows of opportunity to sail and grabbing those chances.

The 'Windguru effect' is well known in sailing, where people will put themselves off with an adverse forecast. Are we seeing a swing back the other way? If so, it's good news for all of us as the bigger the fleet out on the water, the more fun the racing is, and the better the chat in the bar afterwards. It was certainly the case at my local club as we chatted through the challenges presented, and how the wind was slightly higher than the forecast had suggested during the briefing.

Sailors went out, sailors had fun, sailors capsized, sailors laughed afterwards. It was glorious and long may it continue.

Last Chance Regatta

There was elation for some and heartbreak for others at the Semaine Olympique Française in Hyères last week. This was the 'Last Chance Regatta' to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

World Sailing has its ups and downs, but the Emerging Nations Program can be counted as one of its successes. 21 sailors from the program have qualified for the Olympics this year, which is eight more than at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

To broaden the appeal of sailing worldwide we need as many countries as possible to have strong sailing programmes. Yes, Olympic sailing is a world away from what most club sailors do, but if kids can see the aspirational route to sail in the Olympics as one that is possible, then they might take it up, or continue in the sport when otherwise their eyes could be drawn elsewhere. Sailing is competing with an increasingly wide range of ways to fill our time, so we should celebrate the wins, such as the Emerging Nations Program.

On a personal note, I was happy to see Malaysia's Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy qualify for Paris 2024, which will be his fourth Olympics.

He was helmsman for SSL Team Malaysia who made it all the way to the Quarter Finals at the SSL Gold Cup, beating far more experienced teams along the way, gathering a huge fanbase.

At the end of the week Mohd Afendy said: "I think this was one of the longest weeks of my life. I managed to qualify - and I have no words to describe it. I'm so happy and this is also for my family back home." news

We're always trying to improve what we do on and, and a video news show is our latest venture. It's very much a learning experience and we wanted to make sure our offering complements the excellent YouTube channels already out there, such as PlanetSail and Mozzy Sails, so we decided on a studio-style show.

Building a 'studio' in my office has been interesting, with one wall now being a lurid green and a collection of new cables, and I'm stilling working out a few of the technical details so that we can turn things around in a timely manner, but it's great to always be doing something new.

The pilot show taught me a lot - sound is trickier than a face-to-face interview and I won't be waving my arms around so much in future - but a phrase I use a lot about our work is 'It's getting there'. I'm not entirely sure where 'there' is, or if I ever want to get there, but it feels apt.

Thank you to everyone who's given me feedback on the pilot, it's very much appreciated and is a huge part of how I'm learning. Hopefully the news recap I've just recorded shows improvement.

The written word continues to be our mainstay but combined with great photos and more video, we're always trying to broaden our offering with the continuing goal of attracting more people to life on the water.

Mark Jardine and

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