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North Sails Performance 2023 - LEADERBOARD

The State of Play of Sailing - Australia newsletter


The State of Play of Sailing

Pantaenius 2022 - SAIL LEADERBOARD AUS

J Composites 2022 - J45 v4 LEADERBOARD

2023 Rolex Fastnet Race - Chris Sheehan's PAC 52 Warrior Won rounds the Fastnet Rock at dawn this morning - photo © ROLEX / Carlo Borlenghi

Dear Recipient Name

As I sit in my office on a balmy September morning, wondering why summer started on the same day as the meteorological calendar says that it was the start of autumn in the UK, I was thinking about the state of play in sailing, and I see a situation which is just as confused as the weather...

In my role as Managing Editor of and I get to hear about a huge amount of global sailing: what's working, what isn't, how clubs and classes are faring, which events are booming, and which are on their knees, and it's fair to say the picture is mixed.

X-Yachts 2022 AUS SAIL X4.3 MK II MPU 1   38 South / Jeanneau AUS SF30 OD - MPU

Essex Week 2023 - photo © Nick Champion /
Essex Week 2023 - photo © Nick Champion /

Post-Covid we saw the initial boom of people getting out on the water or reconnecting with it if they'd been away. The good news is that many have continued to embrace the on-the-water lifestyle, but this often isn't in the 'traditional' sailboat racing environment. Overall, that shouldn't entirely matter, as long as they are active sailors, and become engrained in their local sailing and yacht clubs. Racing is something sailors can dip in and out of, and doesn't have to be the be-all and end-all. That said, what we see most of are the reports from racing events, so that's where my focus will be today.

For many years we've kept track of UK National Championship attendance, trying to accurately log the number of boats to start at least one race during a championship. Through this we see some clear trends, such as the rise in the past decade of the RS200 and Supernova, the slow demise in the Enterprise and 505 classes, resurgences of the Scorpion, RS400, Europe and ILCA classes, and the steady attendances in the Solo, Finn, 2000, 29er, RS Feva and Blaze classes, to name but a few.

MIA 2021 DEC MPU   Marine Auctions 2019 600x500

Aspire Merlin Rocket Nationals 2023 Day 5 - photo © Ben Wood / Island Images
Aspire Merlin Rocket Nationals 2023 Day 5 - photo © Ben Wood / Island Images

But this only tells one story, in one country, in one section of our sport. As we all know, sailing is multifaceted and enjoyed the world over. The table could be regarded as a bellwether for individual classes, but even then there are a multitude of reasons for variation. Why does the Merlin Rocket attract over a hundred dinghies for Salcombe Merlin Week, but only 27 for its National Championship, for example?

National and International Championships also rely on sailors travelling to events, which many don't do, so again it is a crude marker of the health of a particular class. Many classes with low championship and open meeting attendance are widely sailed in club racing. While owners may not be a member of a class association, they are often sailing more actively than someone doing the circuit of opening meeting and championship events.

Nautilus Marine 2023 - SAIL MPU   Navico AUS Zeus3S MPU

Craftinsure Bass Week 2023 - photo © William Carruthers
Craftinsure Bass Week 2023 - photo © William Carruthers

Club racing had the potential to be the big winner with travel now more expensive. There have been some clubs who have diversified their offering, and are seeing the highest attendances they've ever had, and membership booming. Others have continued with outmoded practices and are unwilling to embrace change. There is no 'one size fits all' answer for the clubs in trouble, but the Future of Sailing webinars, while recorded pre-Covid, are as relevant today as they were then and provide a range of potential ideas.

Keelboat sailing events using handicapping rules also show a mixed picture. An event such as Cowes Week may be down on attendance, but other shorter duration events are up and thriving. This is often a reflection of how people want to use their valuable time when off work, and the idea of a full seven-day event can be daunting for even the most avid sailor, especially when the getting there, crew organisation and getting home are considered.

Race Yachts 2023 v3   Vaikobi 2023 Gloves - MPU

Pacman - Two-Handed in the 2022 Sydney Hobart race - photo © Bow Caddy Media
Pacman - Two-Handed in the 2022 Sydney Hobart race - photo © Bow Caddy Media

Doublehanded yacht sailing continues to grow around the world, particularly in Europe and Australia. The French are the kings and queens of shorthanded sailing, and it's no surprise that many of the best options for doublehanded racing comes from major French yards. JOG racing in the UK has many doublehanders, as does the RORC racing, while the CYCA is using its 2023/24 Two-handed Pointscore to further facilitate this growth in Australia.

Doublehanded keelboat sailing doesn't seem to have cost participation in fully crewed yacht racing. While during the later pandemic years having a reduced crew helped with 'bubbling' smaller crews, there has been growth in other types of yacht racing. Most noticeably this is in the big races, such as the Rolex Fastnet Yacht Race, where a record-breaking 450 yachts took part. Take a look at big events such as the Barcolana, Centomiglia, and of course the Rolex Sydney Hobart which saw 109 entrants in 2022, and you can see the demand is out there.

Vetus-Maxwell 2020   Windcraft 2022 July - Dehler 46SQ - MPU

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2022 - photo © Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi
Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2022 - photo © Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

This week sees the 33rd edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in the ultra-glamorous location of Porto Cervo, Sardinia. Open to yachts measuring 60 feet and above, with many yachts over double that length, this is an event for ultra-rich owners, and fully professional crews, sailing some of the most advanced and expensive race yachts in the world.

Many may ask why is this important, and how does it relate to my own sailing? In many ways these yachts and events are a world away from what most experience in their day-to-day sailing, but while there are such yachts, there are opportunities for careers in sailing outside of the Olympic and America's Cup pathways. Young sailors can see a route to continue doing what they love and get paid for it. That kind of aspiration is vital for sailing and means there is an entire industry servicing the mega yachts, meaning the career pathways are far wider than just the sailing itself.

Pantaenius 2022 - SAIL & POWER 2 MPU AUS   Webasto AUS 2020 MPU 4

Superyacht Cup Palma 2023 Day 3 - photo © Sailing Energy / The Superyacht Cup
Superyacht Cup Palma 2023 Day 3 - photo © Sailing Energy / The Superyacht Cup

I've deliberately steered away from talking about the Olympics, America's Cup and SailGP, as we give both those events a huge amount of coverage. The Paris Olympics involves 330 sailing athletes, and the current America's Cup and SailGP yachts now have minimal crew numbers, although the teams behind the scenes at each are extensive.

Overall, I believe sailing is in good shape. The picture is by no means universal, and it's very easy to point at an event with declining attendance and bemoan the situation, but for every one of these, I'll see two events which are doing well.

There's one vital element for increasing participation in sailing: enjoyment. If people go away from an event and say, "that was fun," then they'll come back for more. It's a premise that is all too easy to forget with all the processes necessary to host an event, but should be front and centre at all times.

Mark Jardine and Managing Editor

Zhik 2023 May SW MPU   Flagstaff 2021AUG - Oceanis Yacht 54 - MPU

SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week Day 4: Breeze picks up and spirits lift
Another hard one for Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson and his team at 2023 SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week (SMIRW), as light fluky airs necessitated three course changes from Around the Island to a race to White Rock.

'Smuggler' ready to race and signed up as the first official entry for the 2024 Festival of Sails
The impressive Sydney to Hobart contender 'Smuggler' has become the first yacht to sign on for the 2024 Festival of Sails being held in Geelong on January 26 to 28, 2024.

Boris Herrmann and Team Malizia are back on the water
After a short six week summer refit, Boris Herrmann and his Malizia - Seaexplorer are back on the water in Lorient and ready to finish the 2023 race season.

Ensign 2023 SIBS MPU   Boat Books Australia
Entries open for Sydney Harbour Sprint Series 23/24
The Notice of Race is published and entries open for the fast and furious Sydney Harbour Sprint Series, to be held over three weekends each in spring and winter, competitors hitting the ground running with three races away on Saturday 14 October.

Six Metre World Championship 2023 at the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes - Day 1
Glorious sun, a steady south-easterly breeze of 10 to 15 knots and a stunning fleet of thirty-four International Six Metres made for the perfect start to the Six Metre World Championship in Cowes.

Flag ceremony opens Finn European Masters at Campione del Garda
The preparation is over and the 2023 Finn European Masters gets under way on Tuesday with 92 boats from 25 nations represented at Campione del Garda, in Italy.

BIA 2023 - Marine Card - MPU   Rolly Tasker Sails 2023 MPU
Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup at Yacht Club Costa Smeralda - Day 1
With conditions off the Costa Smeralda that started at 10 knots from the north and built to more than 20, the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda's Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, organised in conjunction with the IMA, got off to the best possible start today.

America's Cup Official Exhibition Centre opens in Barcelona
The 37th America's Cup Official Exhibition Centre has opened in Barcelona in the former IMAX cinema complex. It features a free and ticketed zones.

Launch of ILCA Oceania Solidarity program - Building female sailing in Oceania via ILCA 4 pathway
Building on the successful launch of the Australian model in 2023, ILCA Oceania are expanding the program to cover NZ and the Pacific Island nations.

ALT Composities 2020 West System 2 - 300x250   J Composites 2022 - J45 v4 MPU
Perfect breeze for start of 33rd Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup
Heading up their respective classes are Leopard 3 in Maxi A, Proteus in Maxi B, Spirit of Lorina in Maxi C, Allegra in Multihull, Y3K in Supermaxi and Svea in the J Class.

Heatwave ready to launch the J/70 European Championship
Blue skies, warm weather and moderate to strong easterly winds are set to kick off the J/70 European Championship in the best way possible.

J Class at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup - Day 1
Swedish flagged Svea, with owners steering a race each, made the best possible start to their defence of the J Class Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup title today, when they opened with two wins in light to moderate NE'ly breezes off Porto Cervo.

Barton Marine 2019 600x500   Henri-Lloyd 2023 Freo Jacket - SW MPU
Vamos Gallos! A look into Spain SailGP Team's first-ever win in 'Racing on the Edge'
As the youngest team in the fleet, Diego Botin's Gallos showed they have the skills to win at the Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix.

54th La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec Stage 2 Day 2
The climb to Chicken Rock lighthouse, south of the Isle of Man is proving to be not for the feint hearted among the 32 ssolo skippers racing on the second stage of the 54th La Solitaire du Figaro.

Clipper Race fleet departs Portsmouth as world's toughest and largest ocean race gets underway
One of the toughest endurance challenges on the planet, the 40,000nm Clipper Round the World Yacht Race has begun, setting sail from Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, yesterday, and will take almost a year to return.

Selden 2023 CXe   Allen 2022 - PSH Cam Cleat MPU
Iconic Sydney Harbour to host 2023 World Sailing Youth Match Racing World Championship
World Sailing is delighted to announce that the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) will host the upcoming 2023 World Sailing Youth Match Racing World Championship, to be held in the iconic setting of Sydney Harbour.

International entries flow in for Hong Kong to Vietnam Race 2023
With 50 days to go, international entries from three countries mark the first signups for the 10th edition of the Hong Kong to Vietnam Race; a 673nm predominantly downwind run to Nha Trang, Vietnam.

Wingfoil athletes set for title face-off in Denmark
The planet's best wingfoil athletes are primed for battle on the North Sea at the GWA Wingfoil World Cup Denmark, where four world titles could be decided in the coming days.

MPU July August September   North Sails Performance 2023 - MPU
VNG Racing wins the first 69F Women Foiling Gold Cup in Gargnano, Lake Garda
The inaugural 69F Women Foiling Gold Cup has been claimed by the New Zealand team, VNG Racing, led by Olympic Champion Jo Aleh as the skipper, alongside Olympic silver medalist Molly Meech and Olympian Erica Dawson as crew.

Harken E5.9 Travellers Series to be held at Opua
After a slightly extended break, the Harken Elliott 5.9 Traveller Series resumes at Opua over the weekend of the 9 - 10 th September.

18ft Skiffs: New 18s turn 30
With 2023-24 Australian 18 Footers League season about to get under way with Race 1 of the annual Spring Championship on October 8, it's time to take a quick look at the success of the rules which changed the style of 18ft skiff racing thirty years ago.

8 Metre World Championship at Yacht Club Italiano - Overall
On the final day of the 8 Metre World Championship, with the boats waiting in the harbor for the wind to pick up, the rankings from yesterday were confirmed.

Cup Spy Sept 1, 2023: American Magic chops through the foil and sail test schedule
Five Cup teams sailed in Practice Racing ahead of the first Preliminary Event in mid-September. American Magic chose to skip the practice sessions, and do development testing. Skipper Paul Goodison said he was very pleased with their progress this week.

Eight sailors selected for 2023 Pacific Games in Solomon Islands
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has announced the selection of an eight-strong sailing team for the 2023 Pacific Games.

Upffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW MPU   Armstrong-FG-3 300x250
54th La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec Stage 1 - Jury protest gives Tom Dolan the win
The rankings for the first stage of the 54 La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec were altered this morning after decisions made by the International Jury.

Cup Spy August 31: First Training Session .. Arb Panel decline Swiss claim.. USA focuses on design
Five teams began in the first of four Training Sessions - we have video of the first session. Alinghi Red Bull Racing has lost a case in a recent decision by the Arbitration Panel. American Magic trained alone, and we have their report

Lorient central to the second edition of the Globe40 in 2025/26
After playing host to the debut edition of the GLOBE40 in the form of a prologue in June 2022 and the race finish in March 2023, Lorient Agglomération is renewing its allegiance to the event in the same format for the second edition in 2025/ 2026.

PredictWind - Offshore App 300x250   RS Sailing 2021 - MPU
Final safety checks, parties then off! for McIntyre Ocean Globe entrants - 9 days to go
There's been ribbon-cutting, cannon fire, astro navigation demonstrations, medical training, safety inspections, and a Pimms or two on the pontoons.

America's Cup: Kiwis announce new technology partnerships around hydrogen boat Chase Zero
Emirates Team New Zealand/America's Cup Event have announced a new technological partnership with ACCIÓ, the public agency for the competitiveness of Catalan enterprise which is part of the Ministry of Business and Labour of the Generalitat of Catalonia.

Nautilus Marine Insurance's support of North Queensland sailing regattas continues with 2023 SMIRW
"Beautiful sunshine, blue water, great competition, and a great vibe... if racing in North Queensland is not on your bucket list, it should be!" - Sam Newton, Australian SailGP Team member.

Cyclops 2023 August MPU   Hyde Sails 2023 SIBS
Get on board one of Ensign's premier new yacht brands
Mark your diaries for these upcoming boat shows to get on board one of Ensign's premier new yacht brands! Meet the team, look onboard new and demonstrator models, and find out what's coming soon.

North Sails introduces the North Learn to Foil Academy
A turn-key solution for sailing clubs to easily integrate the world's fastest-growing watersport into club programming and engage young members.

America's Cup: MotoGP World Champs visit Emirates Team NZ's Barcelona base
In a meeting of champions, the America's Cup Defender Emirates Team New Zealand, has welcomed the MotoGP World Champions, Francesco "Pecco" Bagnaia, and the Ducati Lenovo Team at their base in Barcelona.

T Clewring One Design 250   C-Tech 2020 Battens 2 300x250
North Sails names 727 Sailbags European upcycling partner
The partnership between North Sails and 727 Sailbags provides a second life and diverts old sails from ending in landfills.

Cup Spy August 30: Lift Off ! Tough seaway tests Cup teams
Barcelona was hit by a couple of squalls/fronts between midnight and 0600hrs, leaving a confused seaway, which tested the seamanship and racing ability of the four or five America's Cup teams that sailed off Barcelona.

Niklas Edler is the new OK Dinghy World No. 1
Niklas Edler is the new OK Dinghy World No 1, as the August 2023 World Ranking list is published. He takes the top spot from long time world No.1 Thomas Hansson-Mild, also from Sweden, who drops to second and Denmark's Bo Petersen, who climbs to third.

HALLSPARS_MAST-&-BOOMS_SW_300X250 cnb66   Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image 2023
CYCA Two-handed Pointscore paves a pathway for two-handed participation
Challenging and exhilarating, two-handed sailing has rapidly gained popularity in Australia over recent years, and the CYCA is using its 2023/24 Two-handed Pointscore to drive further participation.

Cup Spy August 29: Swiss coaches capsize in training.
Three Cup teams sailed off Barcelona in breezes of 8-16kts giving the teams the opportunity for racing practice in the softer morning breeze. It increased in the afternoon, placing a premium on boathandling - with the Swiss capsizing.

Vaikobi's UV Rash Tops back in stock
Super lightweight, UV50+ and restocked in all four colours - Get in quick before they sell out again!

Lloyd Stevenson - SYA3 300x250px   Doyle Sails 2020 - Redefining Boundaries 300x250
Cyclops Marine partners with Arcus Wire Group as Exclusive Distributor in Australia
Cyclops Marine is delighted to announce an exciting new collaboration with Arcus Wire Group, a leading supplier of stainless steel wire rope and fittings.

Norway upgraded to International WASZP Games in 2024
The WASZP European Games were already slated for Norway in August 2024, however, due to the success of last month's EuroCup and the desire of the WASZP community, the event has now been upgraded to an International Games status.

38 South / Jeanneau AUS SF30 OD - FOOTER

Navico AUS Zeus3S FOOTER

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