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Oakcliff first to preview new Olympic offshore event

by Oakcliff Sailing 17 Jan 14:17 GMT 14-15 May 2019
Oakcliff Sailing Regatta © Oakcliff Sailing

When World Sailing announced a mixed two-person keelboat offshore event for the Paris 2024 Olympics, Oakcliff started planning. The New York-based training and coaching center will run an offshore race this spring designed to explore the practical and commercial viability of this new Olympic event.

Oakcliff's plan has gained votes of confidence from top leaders in the sport. Volvo Ocean Race navigator and chairman of World Sailing's Oceanic & Offshore Committee, Stan Honey, said, "It is terrific that Oakcliff will be holding a double-handed, mixed, overnight, one-design, offshore event. I've heard of several organizations in the US and overseas making plans for these events, but I'm not surprised that Oakcliff will be a leader in this area as well. Oakcliff's inclusion of live video, and adjustable courses, along with sorting out any protests on the water, will make for a fascinating event with an exciting finish."

Gary Jobson, Vice President of World Sailing and 1977 America's Cup winner added, "Oakcliff Sailing is the first American organization to host a preview of the new Olympic event planned for Paris 2024. A mixed, double-handed race in identical boats on a long course will be great fun for competitors and fans. I expect many aspiring teams to be formed to try to reach the Olympic Games."

The test event will be a 16-24 hour overnight distance race on Long Island Sound. The Oakcliff team is preparing their one-design fleet of six Melges 24s with all of the necessary equipment for short-handed offshore racing including autopilot, AIS, GPS, reefable mains, and safety gear.

In Oakcliff's continuous efforts to innovate in the sport, each boat will be rigged with cameras transmitting a live stream to demonstrate the media viability of distance racing as a platform for potential sponsors. A media and support boat will also be stationed on the course to provide additional media coverage, commentary, and live interviews all within cell range to keep costs down. The race committee will have the ability to adjust the course length based on weather conditions to have the first finisher(s) cross the line within a peak broadcast window. This race will also employ an on-call international jury to be able to hear protests via phone during the race so that the first boat across the line will truly be the winner.

Oakcliff's Executive Director Dawn Riley added, "This kind of innovative programming is a hallmark of Oakcliff Sailing. We expect others around the world to experiment and realize how simple offshore double-handed sailing can be for training and qualification."

Eligible teams will be pulled from Oakcliff's 2019 trainees, specifically from the Sapling and Short-Handed Offshore Acorn program. This is the first training program dedicated solely to short-handed offshore sailing in the US. Learn more here.

The race will take place May 14-15. The NOR and links to track the race will be at www.oakcliffsailing.org/regattas

To apply to Oakcliff's programs, contact the Training Program Director, Ethan Johnson, at . For other race inquiries, contact Oakcliff's Race Program Director Patrick Burks at .

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