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Allen Brothers

Things that suddenly disappear, or change.

by Guy Nowell 23 Mar 2019 07:15 GMT
SuperFoiler Championship in Sydney © Andrea Francolini

One minute it’s bigger than Ben Hur (according to the SuperFoiler website). ““SuperFoiler Grand Prix is the ‘F1’ of hydrofoil sail-racing. There is no other entertainment product like it in the world. The SuperFoiler is a highly advanced, purpose-built machine that drives unrivalled performance.”

“The world’s best sailors agree that our IP and ambition exemplify leadership in the new combined dimension that is flying and sailing. Our aim is to deliver dynamic racing, create rich content as well as develop new on and off-water experiences.”

And the next moment the whole shemozzle is on the bricks. If your specs don’t go as small as the small print in the pic, then this is what it says:

“Expressions of interest sought. High speed hydrofoil raceboats and IP for sale.

Superfoiler Grand Prix. Assets and intellectual property of the creators of the SuperFoiler available for purchase. Includes eight one-of-a-kind SuperFoiler* boats with access to parts, moulds, IP, race circuit, and sponsorship rights.

*SuperFoilers require additional work to complete.

For Information Memorandum contact Kevin Chan of Worrells Solvency & Forensic Accountants on (02) 9249 1200 or via email: kevin.chen@ Expressions of interest close 5.00pm 20 March 2019

So sorry, the deadline has passed. What went wrong here? Answers on a postcard, please.

We received another strange announcement yesterday The World Match Racing Tour (sold off last December by owner Håkan Svensson, who attempted to convert what was once “the path to the America’s Cup” into “the path to selling more M32s”) now has new owners, but we aren’t being told who they are. WMRT has been “under new ownership since 01 January 2019” but the identity of the owner(s) is Strictly Secret Squirrel. Furthermore, WMRT is going back to Sweden for a last lick at a regurgitated M32 programme in staging a winner-takes-all World Championship “final” for the WMRT 2018-19 season. Why on earth they should do this is a bit of a mystery. Having waved goodbye to title sponsor Aston Harald (builders of the really quite excellent M32) last year, many thought this was a good opportunity to start afresh. The AC went off to play with multihulls; conveniently, the WMRT followed. Now the AC is back to monohulls (sort of) so that excuse is dead.

What the WMRT is really all about is match racing - one of the many arcane niches in the wonderful sport of sailing. Time was when hopeful crews turned up in Bermuda for the Gold Cup, or San Diego for the Con(gressional) Cup, and thrashed it out in whatever boat was thrown at them. Some of the events that were eventually united as a series under one umbrella were events with long and illustrious histories that didn’t take kindly to being told that their event was henceforth going to be sailed in a different boat, provided. Some declined. Any attempt to turn the WMRT into a one-design event was always going to diminish its stature.

Now the OD merchants are off the headline, and Messrs XYZ (whoever they might be) have the chance to take the WMRT back to where it came from and start over. So why on earth go back for another Aston Harald event? It doesn’t make sense, but we like the WMRT a lot, and look forward to seeing it resurrected in a proper form as soon as possible.

And here’s another thing we don’t understand. Why has the combined IQ of the Royal Thai Navy and YRAT (the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, chiefly famous for keeping their scoring systems on floppy discs) decided to have a dinghy regatta (Sattahip Regatta, 24-28 April) just a few days before Top of the Gulf Regatta (1-5 May). Sattahip is the RTN base some 11nm from Jomtien Beach, home of Ocean Marina and the Top of the Gulf Regatta. In local terms, this is akin to the Royal Southampton running a regatta that ends two day before Cowes Week, and for the same classes. One school of thought says that this is a great opportunity “for some training before the big event.” The flip side says that one event will dilute the other, although we couldn’t say which way round that will be. However, Sail-World will be on station at TOG, which is one of the serious and major regattas in Thailand, and we will be keeping an eye on fleet numbers.

Incidentally, the Sattahip Regatta will include racing for the Vega Rudder Trophy that commemorates the voyage of His Late Majesty King Bhumiphol Adulyadej, single handed, in an open dinghy, from Hua Hin to Sattahip: 52nm across open water. Hats off to His Majesty.

The Singapore Yacht Show is just around the corner (11-14 May) and once again we are asking ourselves what is the real function of boat shows – apart from enjoying looking at boats that I will never be able to afford. Boat shows in this part of the world have long ceased to be just 'boat shows'. They are multi-faceted Lifestyle Events, meaning that they are selling watches, champagne, and nouveau aspiration as much as things that float. Today we have the internet, and that means that anyone can check out the specs, the photos, and the movie of practically any boat on the planet without leaving home. Boat shows are no longer the place to go see what’s new. So why I should need to perspire freely under the afternoon sun in Singapore in May while looking at some boats that look remarkably similar to those I looked at last year is highly questionable.

New boats, of course, are always “revolutionary” and “all new design.” This sort of language is merely the PR fluff writer’s stock-in-trade; when did you last see truly revolutionary design in a boat (foiling sailing boats excepted). Really? Pointy at the front, square(ish) at the back, and if you want to go faster and this is a motor yacht, then install bigger engines. (Note: ‘revolutionary’ and ‘edgy’ are also code words for ‘horribly ugly’). At the end of the day all that “cutting edge design” stuff comes down to the colour of the cushions and the fabric on the sofa. The real function of boat shows, a friendly dealer/broker tells us, is to collect new contacts. “We don’t need to see our existing customers – they are on our contact list anyway - but we love to meet new people. Occasionally someone goes mad and buys a boat at a show, but it doesn’t happen often. When companies announce that they have sold a boat at a show, it usually means that something has been signed off after months of discussions and negotiations.”

Boat shows are social occasions, too. All those ‘First Time in Asia’ launch events at which the dealers complain to the brokers about the cost of boat shows - and the brokers agree. Boat shows are like a whole lot of office parties all happening at once, with the serial invitees picking and choosing which ones to attend on the basis of expected quality of wine on offer.

After the resounding success of Hong Kong Raceweek, and the stony silence from the Asia Open Laser Championships in Singapore, the next small boat event hereabouts was the Boase Cohen & Collins Interschools Sailing Festival – 3-boat team racing in Fevas, Picos and Fusions. 155 students in 22 teams from 17 educational institutions in Hong Kong, and a schedule of two round robins and 100+ races over two days. What could possibly go wrong? Well, the breeze could shut off for one thing, and it did. Light breeze on day one, and the RO just managed to squeeze in 48 races. No breeze at all on day two. As the day wore on and the flat calm continued, punctuated by heavy downpours, the race schedule gradually became more and abbreviated until there were fewer than half a dozen races during the day. Take the top scorers from the one and only round robin, and fire them off as a two-team final. Oddly enough, team racing at near zero speed is almost as nail-biting as doing it with 10 kts of breeze. Best of all, everyone was having fun. How many kids can you fit in an Optimist? And can you still paddle it? There may not have been too much actual racing during the day, but there was plenty of watery activity and a lot of good, wet, fun. There are plenty of grown-ups that could take a leaf out of this particular behavioural manual.

Standing by on 72.

Guy Nowell

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