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Pre-eminence

by John Curnow, Sail-World.com AUS Editor 6 May 15:00 PDT
The one. The only. THE Boxing Kangaroo © Australian Olympic Committee

Not too hard to work out that I am unabashedly Australian. Hope everyone is as proud of their country, as I am. Most folk I know seem to be.

So the headline to a recent World Sailing article went, "France, Germany Great Britain lead qualification numbers for Paris 2024 Olympic Games". That was like, Oh? So where are we? I mean, don't get me wrong. This is great for France, Germany, and Team GBR, but isn't the Boxing Kangaroo meant to be a force to be reckoned with? Are not sailing teams the world over full of Aussies plying their trade?

Ponder also that the two top jobs, as such, are both foilers. I went back to re-read Grandmaster Flash, because immediately there were some comments from Adam Beashel therein that were so valuable and needed to be applied once more here, and so here they are, indeed...

"Was a time when you did an Olympics campaign to get noticed, but now the skillset that you're getting from the Olympic Classes isn't what's needed in the America's Cup classes and so forth any more. Those America's Cup teams are looking at Moth sailors, not 49er sailors."

"The kids are already wanting to know how to foil and sail those type of things and learn that stuff. Sailing 'spots' are limited, of course. I would imagine there's been a huge uptake in either aeronautical engineering or mechanical engineering, and that will continue, as it will be another string in the bow in order to go sailing."

This all brings many things into play. We have already seen that the Cyclors have brought cyclists, triathletes, and so on into the fray. Don't have to be a sailor to get that spot.

What's in a name? I'll tell you. We give them titles like 'Flight Controller', and 'Wing Trimmer'. Sounds decidedly airborne to me. Should we perhaps be considering hanging out at RC Modelling Airfields for talent scouting? I remember when I was flying my 2m long replica of a Bell 212 helicopter just how much fun it was, but also how much you had to think on the fly, especially when the craft was coming back directly at you, when the controls were of course reversed.

No geo-fencing in those days, GPS tracking, auto-collision avoidance, or auto-hover for dummy-spit moments like you get with a modern-day drone. Let alone a pretty picture screen to see where you were on a map, or indeed what you were looking at from way over there. It was all accomplished with your eyes. It was either harden up or pick up the pieces, which were expensive and took huge amounts of time to make/build.

Next was the digital realm. It requires another kind of hand/eye digital coordination. It's a spatial awareness unlike others, and the pace can often be frightening. Seems to play into the new world of top end sailing, where 60 knots plus closure speed is very much part of the deal, that this sort of high intensity skill could be very favourable to one's employment opportunities.

Screen time. Garmin now have a massive 27-inch MFD that has 4k resolution. Like what?! The amount of information that can present in rapid fire is off the chart - literally, and metaphorically! Point being, should we be watching Xbox experts, maybe finding the talent at nerd fairs, or getting some code written to hack back into global gaming sites, and find the real-time location of the winner or leader? The latter could well get a job. No need to be sailor there, either.

Then also take into account tennis pros. A kid who is under 10 will be on the trajectory to stardom. They won't be 'discovered' at 18 or 24. They're known. By 12 they may even be a name already. Thing is, their game hasn't changed too much over time. Not like they play on the ceiling now.

Equally, there is nothing wrong with being ranked 400, for there are still eight billion souls behind you. You can be the journeyman player, if it is your want. Plenty make a living off the circuit itself, or as coaches still at that level. No problem with that.

So yes, if there are less sailing spots, how do we find the Younglings with the high Midi-chlorian count? Where do they exist, and even more importantly, what trajectory are they to be placed on? Were the Jedi saints or thugs, and so whom should be charged with looking after their welfare?

Over the last 30 years Australia has done well in sailing, and also the medal count. Just about every other sport around or above sailing in said tally has history going back to 1896 or thereabouts, given our Federation was not until 1901.

In order to retain a pre-eminence you would think that you need a steady flow, all the way up from Journeyman to Jedi Master. Are we looking for the next Yoda or Sith?

OK. There it is. There is so much more on the group's websites 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 Sail-World.com

John Curnow
Sail-World.com AUS Editor

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