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Sail-World NZ - Nov 21: Breaking new media ground..America's Cuppers all 'Dry' Tack

by Richard Gladwell, 21 Nov 2019 03:55 GMT 21 November 2019
Emirates Team New Zealand gets amongst the 49ers ahead of the 2019 Hyundai World Championship - Waitemata Harbour - November 19, 2019 © Richard Gladwell /

Welcome to's New Zealand e-magazine for November 21, 2019

Next week, the first phase of the most prestigious single regatta sailed in New Zealand, outside of the two America's Cups, will get under way on the Waitemata Harbour.

Back in 2008 a string of World Championships/Olympic Qualifiers, for the RS:X, Laser Radial and Tornado classes were held at Takapuna.

The 2019 Hyundai World Championships are also 2020 Olympic Qualifiers, but with more pressure with 2020 after the Olympic Sailing Regatta athlete numbers reduced from the 380 at Rio 2016 to 350 at Tokyo 2020.

Athlete numbers peaked in the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Sailing Regattas, with 461 sailors competing in ten and eleven events respectively.

Tokyo 2020 will be the smallest Regatta since 1984 in Los Angeles when the fleet of 300 sailors comprised 298 men and just two women - both competing in Open competition.

For the 2019 Hyundai Worlds, ten-course areas have been designated, with four being used each day depending on wind speed and direction. Hopefully, race officials will follow the example of the America's Cup and keep the racing close to shore. Course locations spread from Torbay to Motuihe.

The Hyundai Worlds have attracted the most talented and accomplished group of sailors ever seen in New Zealand. Currently entered are 14 Olympic Gold medalists. Additionally, the 206 entries embracing 412 sailors, are laced with current and past world champions.

The Hyundai World Championships will be the first sailing event outside the America's Cup, and some racing in the Olympics, to be broadcast live on mainstream television.

Even more impressive is that all four courses will be covered either on the Sky TV coverage or of the remaining courses via the SidelineApp as outlined in a separate story in this edition.

Sailing fans have long complained of the coverage of regattas, live or otherwise, by various forms of social media - mostly Facebook or Youtube.

The Hyundai Worlds will be hopefully the first of a series of regattas which will offer an improved quality of coverage. A paywall has been implemented to recover some of the cost of coverage - accessible by international fans via a subscription payment.

Some will react negatively to being asked to contribute to view the coverage.

Paywalls have been in place previously for top-line sailing events, of which the Hyundai Worlds can rightly claim to be one - with a fleet of higher quality than any America's Cup, and second only to the four-yearly Olympic Regatta.

The combined class organisation for the 49er, FX and Nacra 17 have taken advantage of their unique strength of being able to package three Olympic class World Championships into one regatta, putting together a composite coverage package that covers the three classes.

In the online world, paywalls are increasing - whether it be for reading premium newspaper content, an online video services such as Netflix, Rugby World Cup and Boxing bouts of various hues for which the paywall price runs into three figures.

The Nacra 17, 49er and 49erFX classes have taken the first steps down the paywall path.

The next logical move is to join with other sailing events, that are also running live broadcasts and have these available on a Sailing channel, operating outside World Sailing, and delivered through various Apps which don't require unique hardware.

The full price of the performance of the 2019 Hyundai World Championships has been set at €15 - which may sound pricey to some - but remember, coverage is being provided in various forms, live from four-course locations.

By comparison, the just-finished Rugby World Cup coverage was priced at $80, via Spark Sport. Based on the number of Olympic Gold Medalists participating in the Hyundai Worlds, this is a high-quality field.

T the same company that undertakes the majority of the TV sports coverage in NZ - Sky Sport - is putting its considerable resources behind the coverage of the Hyundai Worlds.

Now it is over to fans - as to whether they are prepared to get out their wallets and make a financial contribution to the coverage of major sailing events? Or, will sailing coverage remain constrained by what can be achieved via social media, without any continuity from one series to another?

The point with the Hyundai Worlds package, and with the 2020 Worlds being held in Geelong, Australian in February, there is the ability to keep the momentum going.

Ultimately this event is owned by an Association of sailors, rather than an entrepreneur, or the beleaguered world organising body. The Class Association has the ability, and networks to be light on their feet and put together deals with other Class Associations and give sailors control over what should be the life-blood of their sport.

The benefit for individual sailors is that it gives them a platform to be able to show value for their sponsors and funders, easing some of the financial pressure of campaigning and surviving in a very expensive semi-professional world, without any prizemoney on offer.

Ultimately the fans will determine if these bold moves by the 49er, FX and Nacra 17 Association have legs, and last more than a couple of World Championships.

It's time to get off your wallet and make sure this initiative is the success it deserves to be.

America's Cup

There's plenty of other content in this edition - Emirates Team New Zealand made their first appearance in a couple of weeks - sailing on Tuesday and Wednesday.

We have images and stories from both days. Great to see Peter Burling and Blair Tuke mixing it with their fellow competitors in the 49er class.

For those looking to step up into the world of the America's Cup, and most other levels of professional sailing and early move into the apparent wind classes is essential. Three of them have their world championship in Auckland - offering young sailors a tremendous and unique opportunity to see top sailors ashore, and on the water.

We also have short, team-produced, video of NYYC American Magic sailing off Newport RI, Luna Rossa sailing off Cagliari, INEOS Team UK sailing off Portsmouth, UK and Emirates Team NZ sailing in Auckland.

Of course, these videos all show the boats sailing fast and doing a "dry" tack - you wouldn't expect anything less to be passed by an America's Cup team's PR department - would you?

Luderitz Speed Challenge

Namibia wouldn't rank in the recall of most as one of the world's significant sailing venues. But for the past week or so the Luderitz Speed Week has been under way as the sailing speed freaks attempt to set new world marks. Sailing in an 800-metre long trench carved out of a lagoon, the riders seek out the 60-65kt winds for which the region is notorious before making another run down the track.

A new, yet to be officially recognised mark was set in the windsurfer category. But record or not, the sailing is spectacular - and video footage even more so. Coming off a board at close to 50kts makes AC75 splashdowns look fairly tame by comparison.

Seeing a rider chase an errant wingsail over the sand dunes in a 60-65kt wind is also a unique aspect of the event. All caught on video.

Brest Atlantique

In the South Atlantic, another new sailing event is building a fan following, as four Ultim (100ft) foiling trimarans are sailing a 14,400nm figure of eight course around the Atlantic. The two man crew are joined by a media reporter - which has made a huge difference to the coverage. If you haven't been following the event click here

For all the latest news from NZ and around the world see the Top 50 stories below.

Between newsletters, you can follow all the racing and developments in major and local events on or by scrolling to the top of the site, select New Zealand, and get all the latest news and updates from the sailing world.

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

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