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Sail-World NZ - December 24 - Cup latest.. World MR..Coastguard Olympic pathways

by Richard 23 Dec 2022 12:14 GMT 24 December 2022
American Magic - Patriot - AC75 - December 17, 2022 - Pensacola, Florida © Paul Todd/America's Cup

Welcome to's New Zealand e-magazine for December 24, 2022.

It's Christmas Eve, and if you're looking for that last-minute Christmas gift, click here and buy some tickets in the Coastguard's Summer Lottery click here and buy some tickets in the Coastguard's Summer Lottery with $357,200 in the prize pool of 20 prizes.

You'll be supporting a great cause, and it only takes a few mouse clicks to complete your Christmas shopping.

In just a couple more sleeps, Christmas will be over. It will be Boxing Day and the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

This year is the first in three years that the field will be unaffected by the Covid pandemic. A fleet of 111 entries will face the starter at 1.00 pm local time on Boxing Day for one of the great spectacles on the sailing calendar.

The race should be delivering its best, with four supermaxis competing and some excellent boats, outside that group of front-runners.

The Australian supermaxi fleet is undoubtedly the best in the world - with some great rivalries coming into play every year - picking up from where they left off. Unusually, the boats themselves are the main characters, rather than the rockstars who happen to be on board for the current edition of the race.

One of those is andoo Comanche, holder of the 24-hour distance record for a monohull, now under charter to John Winning Jr.

She is back in Australian waters for the first time since 2019 and will be looking to secure the line honours victory in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart for the fourth time.

With a new crew and Doyle Sails inventory, andoo Comanche has recently won the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge, Cabbage Tree Island Race, Tollgate Islands Race and Noakes Sydney to Gold Coast Race in the lead-up to the Great Race South.

We've featured wall-to-wall coverage of the Sydney Hobart for as long as I have been with Sail-World - which is 18 years now. In some of the recent races, our NZ coverage used Predictwind's forecasts and weather routing functions, which have proven to be very accurate and insightful in predicting optimum routes and finish times. It is always interesting to see where the top navigators go compared to the routing.

If you have a version of Predictwind that will allow you to use the routing function, then the Sydney Hobart is a great chance to pit yourself against the top navigators in the sport. It helps to know a little about the basics of navigation. The only thing to remember is that the routing will almost always recommend heading out to sea (east towards NZ), while the race navigators will head straight down the rhumbline or cover their eastward side a little.

There are a few key waypoints in the race south, where they exit the NSW/Victorian coast, usually around Gabo Island and enter Bass Strait; their approach to Tasman Island; which sets them up for the final leg across Storm Bay, which takes the fleet into the Derwent River and the finish at Hobart.

Staying in Australia, the New Zealand crew of Knots Racing, helmed by Nick-Egnot Johnson, have won their first Open Match Racing World Championship, sailed in strong winds, over five days in Sydney.

We have reports on this hard-fought win by the Knots Racing crew Nick Egnot-Johnson, Sam Barnett, Zak Merton & Bradley McLaughlin, who beat the USA crew in the Finals, with an Australian crew in third overall.

A Women's crew skippered by Megan Thomson made the Quarter Finals. The RNZYS crew were the only women's team competing in the regatta and qualified for the open World Championship regatta on merit.

Over the next few weeks, several national championships and other regattas will take place in New Zealand.

Please help us promote sailing in New Zealand by sending reports and images from your events, preferably daily.

There's no better advertisement for sailing than boats on the water, and if you want your class and club to expand and build the fleet, then a few minutes on a laptop and some images from a mobile phone is all that is required, plus a link to the results. (Don't reduce the images - send at full size as they come off the phone - we have the apps to do the rest.)

Social media is fine for stories with a short life but will be lost within a week.

Sail-World stories go straight into Google, and the other search engines, where they, like all web stories and images, have a very long life.

And if your club or class doesn't have a publicity/media person, how will you get your story out there? You've all got an investment in your club and class - if you want new club members or new investors/owners in your class, you need a media/publicity officer to get your message across and do the selling job.

This week, the America's Cup finally started to take shape, with the British being the fifth team to get foiling in their LEQ12 (12-metre-long prototype AC75).

We first glimpsed the British boat two months ago, and for reasons which have yet to be officially enunciated, it has taken over eight weeks to get sailing. Part of that delay may have been their attempts to get their Instrumentation of Towing Post past the Measurement Committee. That august body decided in their wisdom that the Towing Post could also be construed as a Mast Tube, of which only one is allowed on a LEQ12.

This Cup differs from its 36 processors in that several options are available to a team for their "pathway" to the America's Cup.

We set these out and gave our rankings for the teams as we believed they stood in mid-December. We will run this feature monthly. We now have equal visibility over all teams thanks to having access to the Recon File Store, which is the only permitted repository of content gathered by the independent reconnaissance teams.

So far, we have two teams sailing AC75s (American Magic and Alinghi Red Bull Racing); two teams sailing LEQ12s (INEOS Britannia and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli), one team (Emirates Team New Zealand) sailing two AC40s. One is being used as a development boat (LEQ12), and the other will stay in strict One Design mode - as stipulated in the regatta rules.

To make matters even more confusing, although the two AC75's come from Version 1 of the AC75 rule used for the 2021 America' Cup, both are upgrading in the direction of Version 2 of the AC75 rule.

In the case of American Magic, they seem to be a long way toward complying with Version 2 - which means they have fitted cyclors - to use 2017 AC terminology; probably dropped the all-up weight by 900kgs; removed running backstays and their gear; removed jib winches and fitted a self-tacking jib, and are running with eight sailing crew rather than the previous 11 crew.

In the case of Alinghi Red Bull Racing, we don't have a clue.

The boat - formerly ETNZ's Te Aihe - went into the Alinghi RBR shed in Barcelona on November 17, emerged for one day on December 19 to be rigged and lowered into the water, and then returned into the shed without having been sailed. We are advised that the Swiss team has shut up their shop until after Christmas.

Even the weather is obtuse. On a day when it was Summer in the southern hemisphere, and a lovely day for sailing in Auckland, the temperature was 23°C, and in Cagliari, Sardinia, where Luna Rossa is based, and supposedly in winter the temperature was a very pleasant 19°C.

Coming up, we have the start of The Ocean Race on January 15, 2023.

Ten teams entered in The Ocean Race - five each in the IMOCA 60 division and five in the VO65 division. We have it confirmed that the VO65s are on a three-port "Sprint Cup" event, and only the five IMOCA60s will go all the way around the world, assuming there are no dropouts.

We're looking forward to seeing more of the coverage we received from the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

It was interesting to listen to the latest series in Road to Gold, the excellent online sailing program aimed at everyone who likes, follows or participates in sailing at all levels, from the Green fleet to full-time professional racers. Road to Gold is convened by top Olympic coach and triple world 470 champion Hamish Willcox and a leading international sailing journalist Andy Rice.

Last evening's edition featured Ian Walker, a double Olympic medalist, Volvo Ocean Race-winning skipper and a host of other titles and achievements. He recently left the Royal Yachting Association as Director of Racing and oversaw the British Olympic program for Tokyo 2020. He is now the general manager of North Sails UK.

The topic was "construction of a great sailor, Youth training and the pathway to Olympic greatness."

A lot was packed into just 60 minutes as the three shared various experiences - Ian Walker from an Olympic perspective, as a sailor and then as a leading coach/director. Andy has a long experience in UK dinghy classes and what happens at club, national and international levels. Hamish came up through the NZ club system in the 1970s and 1980s and sailed in what was a very competitive 470 class at a club and national level.

Ian made several interesting points, the first of which is that the British Olympic results of the past two decades are probably not sustainable - for two reasons. Firstly there are not enough people coming through of the standard required. By his calculation, to be sustainable, the UK program needs to pick up one top future Olympic medal winner each year from the RYA Youth programs/pathways. That is a walking, breathing sailor who can deliver results and can be coached, not just long on potential. Of course, the hope of the Chosen One is that the Olympic classes stay the same by the time the future medalist gets to the top of the game.

Second, the Olympic classes are now such that only two, the ILCA6 and ILCA 7, are sailed at club level in the UK. Walker would not rate the 49er/FX as a club boat, as they are so technically challenging. The same comment applies to the Nacra 17. Windfoilers are yet to be accepted as a club class, primarily because the foiling board sailors, as they have done for the past 40 years, don't see the point of joining a yacht club. All they need is a bank, beach or ramp to launch from, and the same when they return, and they bypass the club system and support.

Third, the physiques required of the sailors now are so specific by class that it was only possible to get to the top of the Olympic apex with some dedicated physical training. However, no matter how much they love sailing a particular class, a short person can't suddenly become tall. Being a physical match with your chosen Olympic class is now a prerequisite. That cuts out a lot of potential sailors as they exit their youth sailing years.

Fourth, the cost of the sport has got prohibitive even at a junior level, which may compound over the next year or two due to looming economic downturns. All three panellists came through an era where coaching was relatively unknown, and they improved by working as part of a crew or chatting amongst themselves in single-handed classes after a race. Not raised was the statistic that now, contrary to their era, was that 50% of junior sailors come from non-sailing families, while previously, the sailing bug was passed between generations of the same family.

Fifth, many top sailors joined the sport in their late teens or early 20s but got through with a very dedicated approach. Ian Walker said he used to keep a sailing log and found that he sailed 180 races per year. That was in the days when you sailed one race per day, not four in an afternoon. He dropped in the thought that 200 days of sailing a year was becoming standard amongst those wanting to make an Olympic squad. It was also noted that many top sailors are totally compliant within the rigour of a coaching and talent development program, and a rebel streak was almost essential. Walker and his long-time partner, the late John Merricks, had it, as did Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy, to name but a few in the British camp.

Although the point wasn't mentioned, if you stripped the Olympics out of the equation, the picture becomes quite different - particularly when the approach revolves around having fun, loving the sport before you get serious about it, and finding lower-cost ways of participation. Many clubs in New Zealand and elsewhere in the world have recognised this - with the promotion of various schemes and programs - which is where the RS range of boats is targeted, and later on, the International classes (non-Olympic) and programs like The RNZYS youth scheme.

The last three years of the pandemic restrictions have changed the sporting landscape. It requires a lot of new thinking and promotion of sailing to recover the lost ground.

Wishing you a safe holiday season on the water.

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.

For all the latest news from NZ and around the world, see the top stories below and check daily on our website

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

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