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Zhik 2024 March - LEADERBOARD

Back with a vengeance

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail World AUS 26 Feb 21:00 GMT
Sun Fast 30 © Jean-Baptiste Epron / Jeanneau – Multiplast

Categorically been on this bandwagon from the beginning. Flag bearing, card-carrying, full-blown trumpeter. Mixed two-handed offshore (AKA Mixed Double-Handed Offshore). You might argue it had a wee false start, if you look at it that way, but it just was a bridge too far at the time to secure it into the Olympics, which is the very place it needs to be.

Now, one of the major impediments would seem to have gone asunder, as a three-year World Championship is announced, with supplied equipment no less, and it's to be sanctioned as a World Sailing event. Grease those rails! This will roll on from here...

As an Aussie, I always liked the idea of ensuring it was in for Brisbane 2032. This was further enhanced by the notion of conducting a two-night affair up in the Whitsundays. No longer filler for the all-important TV audience, here was something live, as in real time, when everything else had shut down for the dark hours.

Being mixed, and with no real age requirement, other than flexibility and strength, it was no wonder many teams signed on, only to find that the starter had not called everybody down to the blocks just yet. Doh.

The One Design vessel is the new Jeanneau Sunfast 30 OD supplied by Cap Regatta, and this ten boat fleet will only grow as time moves on. With the first event staged in September of 2024, there is loads of time to ensure the craft are tested and all conform to the strict OD principle. Lorient Grand Large, Yacht Club de France, and the Royal Ocean Racing Club will attend to hosting, staffing, and race management, all of which will ensure success, which remains the core ingredient to longevity of any event.

So yes. There is still a way to go from A to B, but (and it is a big but) the rubber band is now far more suited to getting around the entire parcel than it may have been before. Good news for avoiding flicks to fingers, and stings to the eyes.

For one man this has been a passionate project, and one he's put a lot of time into over the years, and it is several years now... That would be Matt Allen AM, the Chair Oceanic and Offshore Committee for World Sailing: "This is great news, and we can even do mixed athletes from two separate nations, if that helps garner more interest. It may be that they will have to pick one flag for the race, but at least they can get out there with the people they want to sail with. We'll see how many fall into that space.

"It's also a pretty low barrier to entry, with just fees, air tickets and accommodation to sort out. The regatta will not be that long either, with shorter races determining the final ten, who will then do the longer final. Whatever distance the weather will deliver for a two-night affair is the thinking."

"There are ten boats available to us in the first year, with more in the second and third. Twenty boats will mean we can have qualifiers. As soon as the entry portal is sorted, we hope to see a good flurry of activity, which will help finalise the organisational aspects. Given there were so many sailors engaged in it before, and with two-handed continuing to thrive, it could be quite exciting.

"You know, we might have a situation where we get too many entries. We might have to limit them from particular countries. Say we've got 30 entries and ten are French, that's great, but if we've got 60 entries and we've got 40 French crews trying to enter, we might need to limit that because we need it to be a truly global world championship."

"If this happens, we will have to tell the MNAs that they have to qualify their teams for the available slots, however they may determine to do that. We'd really love to see entries out of South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and Oceania, for we know there will be teams all set to go in Europe."

Obviously, there is room to build the scene ahead of any chance of being put forward to the Olympics, and so the two-country element can be entertained, for now. The question is, just what does it look like once it gets there, especially as time has moved on, and so too the technology, which can only be beneficial. By way of example, the material from the Arkea Ultim challenge has certainly proved the point of 24/7 coverage.

"Being at that level is where we want to be, and just where we get to by September of 2024 is yet to be determined. One thing is clear, and that is just how much is achievable right now. We really think that this will play out as a fascinating event to view for the spectators. To see what's actually happening on board. This is the vision.

"There are quite a few challenges to get this event up and running in year one. The boats aren't all built yet. We've got to make sure they're reliable. We've got to make sure that they're all in good, One Design trim. We've got to make sure that all the sails have done the same number of hours. All these sorts of things. Additionally, what are the procedures for breakdowns and so forth."

Allen closed by saying, "Still, this is February, and that is September, so there is definitely time to work through the remaining elements. The boats and gear would have had a reasonable amount of real ocean sailing between now and then. The boats have got to be durable, just as the sailors do!"

Of course, both sailors and vessels will have to push hard, yet not break, and therein lies the real challenge and attraction. As soon as there are links to share with more details and EOI, we'll get them to you. In the meantime, ponder the journey...

NoR and Registration Form can be sourced from - here.

OK. There it is. There is so much more on the group's websites for you. Simply use the search field, or 'edition' pull-down menu up the top on the right of the masthead to find it all. Please enjoy your yachting, stay safe, and thanks for tuning into Sail-World.com

John Curnow
Editor, Sail World AUS

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