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YachtsandYachting.com Newsletter: AC news, participation webinar, Paris 2024 decisions

by Mark Jardine 10 May 14:00 BST 10 May 2018
Fun in the sun at Eric Twiname Junior Championships © Nick Dempsey / RYA

UK sailing has woken up since our last newsletter! With the cold weather out of the way, hopefully we can now settle into a long, hot summer with beautiful sea breezes and great events across the nation. The key element in my opinion is FUN – a word I'll continue to focus on.

The biggest news in April was INEOS Team UK's challenge for the 2021 America's Cup. Yes, this started as INEOS Team GB, but the BOA pointed out that 'Team GB' is their trademark, so a quick name-change was in order. The dropping of previous sponsors Land Rover and 11th Hour Racing for one of the world's largest manufacturers of chemicals and oil products has raised a few eyebrows, but the £110 million that INEOS chairman Jim Ratcliffe has committed proved too hard to ignore for Sir Ben Ainslie and his team.

As we've all seen, the new AC75 design is radical to say the least and the research and development is going to be key to a successful bid to finally bring the America's Cup back to the UK. None of this comes cheap, and this kind of funding is what is needed to mount a successful challenge. Now the team needs to learn from the Kiwis, and carefully analyse the rules and design to come up with a winning, and - most importantly - sailable, yacht.

The most striking point about Emirates Team New Zealand's win in Bermuda was how the roles on the boat were divided up amongst the sailors, while all the other teams had put so much into the hands of the helmsman, and I'm sure this division of tasks will be key again in the 36th America's Cup.

On the 1st May I joined Alistair Dixon and Liz Rushall to present the 'The Future of Dinghy Sailing Webinar'. Liz and I both presented talks at the RYA Dinghy Show, which we found complemented each other in findings and approach. Participation in sailing and keeping young sailors in the sport is an ongoing challenge and we addressed many points in the webinar, and had excellent feedback, questions and ideas from the viewers. You can view the webinar here.

Our belief is that sailing needs to adapt to changing lifestyles and ensure that youth and junior events have fun at their core. Many clubs are getting this right, but if we can help all clubs learn from the good ideas that are being implemented, and make sailing more welcoming to all, then we are sure participation can grow.

Sailing is a superb sport which can be enjoyed by the very young, the very old, and everyone in-between. We need to make sure kids are hooked on it early and realise just how much enjoyment can be had on the water.

We are aiming to follow-up with another webinar on 7th June to keep up the momentum.

London is hosting World Sailing's mid-year meeting which starts today at Chelsea Football Club. The biggest point on the agenda is the selection of events for the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Competition. The men & women's windsurfing (RS:X), men & women's two-person dinghy (470) and men's one-person heavyweight dinghy (Finn) are up for review. Hard lobbying, petitions and strong opinions have been voiced by those at the top of the Olympic chain down to grass-roots club sailors.

The developed nations can adapt to change relatively easily, due to the money which is pumped into Olympic sport, but for emerging nations change is extremely hard. While I believe sailing does need to adapt in these changing times, I have one point which I believe is very important relating to sailing's place in the Olympics: name me one sport which changes its equipment as often as sailing does? Food for thought as the World Sailing's Events Committee and Council vote in the coming days...

Richard Gladwell has written a superb article on the matter on our sister site, www.Sail-World.com.

Elsewhere there was a nail-biting finish to Volvo Ocean Race Leg 8 in Newport, 32 teams battled it out in stunning conditions at the 69th Wilson Trophy and there was little wind, but a lot of fun, in the Eric Twiname Championships at Rutland. As always there are a plethora of reports coming in from events up and down the county and around the world. We welcome them all!

Whatever you do on the water, remember to have FUN!

Mark Jardine, YachtsandYachting.com and Sail-World.com Managing Editor

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