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Sail-World Asia Newsletter - from Optimists to Superyachts

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia 29 Sep 2018 03:16 BST
Close up O-Pro © Richard Gladwell

About 20 years ago I was part of a group of parents trying to teach their children to sail. We weren’t aiming at World Championships or the Olympics - we were just trying to pass on the enjoyment that we got from sailing. That’s all. Most of us thought that having full control of the boat was the most important thing to teach, but we were probably wrong. The most important thing of all is having fun – whether it be a water fight or a challenge (race you to the red buoy and back again). And we (they) were sailing Optimists, which are pretty much shoe boxes with a stick. They are not elegant, or sea-kindly, or performance orientated. We have often wondered why Optimists are fitted with a brake where the bow should be.

Kim Andersen and World Sailing have recognised that "we are losing too many kids from sailing, there is not enough fun, and there are too many kids sailing by themselves for too long on the waster - and it's not enough fun." In New Zealand it is reported that there’s an 80% drop-out rate among young sailors. And then William Mason, son of Mattie (a four times America's Cup winner), asked "Why don't Optimists have a pointy bow, Dad?" and the O-Pro was born. Check out the story.

More vintage design: the competitors in the Golden Globe Race are sailing boats designed before 1988, and using the same or similar technology available to Robin Knox-Johnson when he circumnavigated in Suhaili, 1968-69, the win the original Golden Globe race. Two of the competitors, Abhilash Tomy (IND) and Gregor McGuckin (IRL), were recently rescued from the low latitudes of the Indian Ocean after being rolled and dismasted in a particularly vicious storm. Which makes us wonder – are you better off in a lighter boat that skitters around on top of the water rather than ploughing through it, and maybe tripping over your own bow wave? Ask the designers.

One up for Asia: the superyacht Illusion Plus, built by Pride Mega Yachts in Yantai, China, is not only the biggest superyacht to have come out of Asia – it has just been handed the title for ‘Best Interior Design Award’ at the uber-luxe Monaco Yacht Show. OK so we’re a long way from Optimists and 36ft family cruisers here, but this really is a feather in the cap for the all the constructors in this part of the world who have long been turning out plenty of good product, but languising under the cloud of “Made in Asia” while the European yards (and particularly the Italians) wallow in self-congratulation that is not always warranted. The interiors of Illusion Plus were drawn by Sinot Exclusive Yacht Design (NED), and the boat is priced at USD145m, just in case you are interested. There’s good engineering and good craftsmanship to be had in Asia – and there’s some rubbish too. But there’s rubbish out of Europe too; be sure of it. You just have to know how to ignore the brochures and understand what you are looking at. Congratulations to Yantai and to Illusion Plus for taking home a prize against the toughest competition in the world, and putting Asia on the quality map.

This weekend: Hebe Haven 24hr Dinghy Race. An all-nighter where junior sailors consume too many energy drinks, grownups drink other stuff, and everyone has fun. Three cheers!

Sun is shining, breeze is blowing. Going cruising this weekend; a hello beer for anyone who pitches up in Double Haven.

Standing by on 72.

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