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J Composites 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Transforming interest in Offshore Sailing

by J/Boats 17 Nov 16:35 GMT
The J99 is at the upper end of the target range for the Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat © Robert Haughton

J/Boats has long supported shorthanded sailing in its various forms since 1977, starting with the introduction of the J/24. Designer Rod Johnstone's most favourite form of sailing and racing has been doublehanded, either with his wife Lucia or nephew Clay Burkhalter.

Rod has done numerous events offshore on Long Island and Block Island Sounds or doing the Bermuda One-Two event multiple times. To that end, virtually all designs at J/Boats have taken into account the desire to make J's easily sailed singlehanded or doublehanded by young and old alike and by men or women. With the advent of the Olympics 2024 Mixed Doublehanded Offshore event, J/Boats has been supporting the efforts by World Sailing to promote shorthanded offshore sailing.

Here's a recent interview with Matt Allen; currently the Vice-Chair of World Sailing's Oceanic and Offshore Committee and a respected person in offshore sailing.

The Australian, who has raced in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 30 times, winning on three occasions, provides insight on how Offshore Doubles is growing and why offshore sailing is thriving:

WS: Give some insight on the scope of your committee's work?

MA: The Oceanic and Offshore Committee at World Sailing brings together many of stake holders in the world of offshore sailing. The Committee assists in coordinating the calendar of events of all the major oceanic races such as the Vendée Globe and The Ocean Race.

We are the final approval body for safety regulations for offshore sailing. This is an extremely important role, especially as we review major incidents and as technology allows improvements to safety outcomes.

Bringing standardization of measurement of a yacht for rating has been an important development. Much of our work in the last year has been focused on bringing mixed double handed sailing into the Olympic Games in 2024 and beyond.

WS: What evidence is there to suggest that Double Handed offshore sailing is growing so fast?

MA: Both global rating systems, namely ORC and IRC, have seen enormous interest and growth in their double handed certifications. Many of our races, including the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race here in Australia, have included double handed divisions into their races.

New boats are being designed and built and I see some very good yachts coming into this area over the next two years.

WS: What can we expect from the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race this year with regards to double handed participation?

MA: At this stage I understand that 25% of the entries are double handed. I think this percentage for the first year is underlying how popular this form of sailing might be in years to come.

WS: Mixed Offshore will feature at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. What can we expect from that event?

MA: To bring offshore sailing into the Olympics will be a sensational event for showcasing sailing as it will be the only event to go through the night-time over three days and two nights. It will be a live event in the natural environment, pushing people to the limit of sleep deprivation.

To bring an offshore race with a female and male onboard into the viewing public will transform interest in offshore sailing and create strong growth in our sport. Thanks for the contribution from World Sailing.