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The State of Play of Sailing - Sail-World.com Australia newsletter

05/09/2023


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 Sail-World.com and YachtsandYachting.com 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 / www.championmarinephotography.co.uk
Essex Week 2023 - photo © Nick Champion / www.championmarinephotography.co.uk

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
Sail-World.com and YachtsandYachting.com 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
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'Smuggler' ready to race and signed up as the first official entry for the 2024 Festival of Sails
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Boris Herrmann and Team Malizia are back on the water
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Ensign 2023 SIBS MPU   Boat Books Australia
 
Entries open for Sydney Harbour Sprint Series 23/24
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Six Metre World Championship 2023 at the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes - Day 1
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Flag ceremony opens Finn European Masters at Campione del Garda
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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
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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
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Heatwave ready to launch the J/70 European Championship
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J Class at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup - Day 1
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Barton Marine 2019 600x500   Henri-Lloyd 2023 Freo Jacket - SW MPU
 
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54th La Solitaire du Figaro Paprec Stage 2 Day 2
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Selden 2023 CXe   Allen 2022 - PSH Cam Cleat MPU
 
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International entries flow in for Hong Kong to Vietnam Race 2023
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Wingfoil athletes set for title face-off in Denmark
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MPU July August September   North Sails Performance 2023 - MPU
 
VNG Racing wins the first 69F Women Foiling Gold Cup in Gargnano, Lake Garda
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Harken E5.9 Travellers Series to be held at Opua
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18ft Skiffs: New 18s turn 30
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Rooster 2023 - MPU   SOUTHERNSPARS_MAST-&-BOOMS_SW_300X250-AQUIJO
 
8 Metre World Championship at Yacht Club Italiano - Overall
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Cup Spy Sept 1, 2023: American Magic chops through the foil and sail test schedule
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Eight sailors selected for 2023 Pacific Games in Solomon Islands
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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
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PredictWind - Offshore App 300x250   RS Sailing 2021 - MPU
 
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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
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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
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North Sails introduces the North Learn to Foil Academy
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America's Cup: MotoGP World Champs visit Emirates Team NZ's Barcelona base
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T Clewring One Design 250   C-Tech 2020 Battens 2 300x250
 
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Cup Spy August 30: Lift Off ! Tough seaway tests Cup teams
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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
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Cup Spy August 29: Swiss coaches capsize in training.
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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
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Norway upgraded to International WASZP Games in 2024
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38 South / Jeanneau AUS SF30 OD - FOOTER

Navico AUS Zeus3S FOOTER

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