It’s been another interesting week in the wide world of sailing on screen; here are the pieces we liked the most:
brand new friend
The number of Americans going sailing is still very near an all-time low, but as of this week, we’re in what may strike you as a surprisingly good mood about the state of the sport here in the good old US of A. Why? Because, based on Senior Editor Mr. Clean’s time at the 3-day US Sailing Leadership Forum in San Diego, we truly believe that, for the first time since Sailing Anarchy’s birth 15-odd years ago, our sport’s governing body seems to be on the right track – a track that, if it continues, will lead to real growth in the part of the sport that really matters – the base.
All the Yacht Clubs and all the regional racing authorities and all the ‘welcome newbies” programs can’t change the fact that we need far more people sailing recreationally to get more people racing, and one of the most impressive parts of the Leadership Forum was the makeup of the 600-odd attendees; almost half were female, with a median age of less than 40. US Sailing doled out over $7000 in travel subsidies to help dozens of community sailing staffers show up, and they were overwhelmingly young and often female; these are the folks in the trenches bringing thousands of new faces into sailing every year.
If there is one criticism of the event’s format, it’s that there were perhaps too many seminars and breakouts in too short a time, and while the vast majority consisted of valuable, engaging content and speakers, a handful were nothing more than disguised corporate promotions for various service providers – something tough to tell from the titles of each session, but easy to tell when you sat down and found a business card on your chair. But aside from that – and perhaps from the Hilton’s price-gouging that left the younger folks and community sailing staffers unable to have a single drink at any of the parties or even the hotel bar – Event Director Katie Ouelette seems to have found a formula for an annual meeting of stakeholders that’s fun, exciting, and advances the sport forward in a way that’s been both sorely lacking and desperately needed.
Even the Yacht Club crowd was a younger and more vibrant group than we’ve ever seen at any non-youth US Sailing gathering, and like everyone else, they were treated to an information smorgasbord from a distinguished group of young and old speakers including our very own Mr. Clean. That fact alone should tell you that US Sailing is clearly on a new path; it’s taken more than a decade, but we welcome them to the 21st century.
If you’d like to know what US Sailing is up to, and why we think you should drop the 60 bucks and join them for 2014, watch the 16-minute interview between Clean and US Sailing Executive Director Jack Gierhart above. Give them a shot at doing good things with your money, and we’ll circle back around in early 2015 and tell you if they are living up to their promises – and you can get into the spirited discussion about it all here. Title shout to Lloyd Cole, and look for the full directory of both the interviews we did and the useful videos posted by US Sailing next week – including Clean’s face off with other leading sailing media peeps.
find out why
Until November (and beyond, really), the Volvo Ocean Race is only as good as the stories it tells. That’s why we’re overjoyed that they’ve pilfered one of SA’s videographer gems – young Sam Greenfield sucks you into the US/Turkish Team Alvimedica in this excellent piece posted yesterday. Check it out above, and go and like Sam’s page here. Whether or not the Volvo can handle his unconventional and no-compromise style, he’ll always be welcome here.
may the force 10 be with you
Who says you can’t sail in a hurricane? Not the Red Bull Storm Chasers, and after a ridiculous 3rd stop in winds of ludicrous speed, France’s Thomas Traversa is the new king of the hurricanes. There’s an excellent full report of the final stage of the three-event world-girdling event here.
mind over matter
Big money and big restrictions flowing from the Cup has stagnated most sailing videography over the past couple of years, and that only makes the sexy stuff coming out of UK production house RedHanded TV look even better; check out this trailer from the upcoming windsurfing movie Brutal Addiction.
neither fish nor fowl
The boys from ETNZ continue to crush the A-Class Cat Worlds fleet, in an odd Takapuna Worlds where some of the fleet is foiling some of the time, and none of the fleet is foiling in anything you’d call ‘control’. This is largely because the daggerboard designs are limited to the non-acute angles of board that can be ‘fit in from the top’, as required by A-Class rules, and without a stable Groupama C or ETNZ-style ‘J’ board, or a sophisticated system of controlling the more open “L” boards (like OTUSA or Hydros), the boats fly in fits and starts. It’s still faster to fly than drag in the breeze they’ve had, and aside from one DNF due to a rudder hardware failure, Ashby is on the verge of adding another one of these to his trophy closet. This vid from Argentina Marine Media is the best we’ve seen yet, and you can find some great Cathy Vercoe pics here, and some video from Beau Outerridge here. Of course there is plenty more first-hand reporting and debate about the recently defeated vote for a proper foiling rule in the thread, which will continue to rage on until someone makes a bold move either towards, or away from, the light.
Former US A-Class Prez Bob Hodges put together a succinct note summarizing his views:
For those on this thread who are currently not active A-Class sailors and/or who have never sailed the boat.
The decision of the class as a whole to not change the current rules is because we are a cautious and conservative lot that do have a vested interest in how the boat and class evolves. I don’t think you can appreciate that perspective until you own an A-Class and you actively sail and race it.
It’s important to note that the top five at the WC currently are paid pro sailors. Theyare great guys, very approachable, and very supportive to their fellow sailors. But they do enjoy the advantage of someone else paying the bills when it comes to the equipment they are racing in this event. They understand the implications of what can happen if the class rules are changed to where the average A-Class sailor’s financial means cannot keep up with the development. How many of you can afford to race a C-class?
I consider myself in great physical condition for my age (55 years old). We have a huge range of sailors in this class from their 20’s to their 70’s that have been able to race the boat across the wind range of our class rules (5-22 knots). The boats have become much easier, safer, and more enjoyable to sail with the addition of curved daggerboards and rudder winglets. But there is no doubt that foil packages that actually fly the boat will raise the physical requirements to sail the boat. I’m excited but at the same time concerned that I may not have the physical stamina and agility to competitively race the boat at the performance levels I am seeing at this WC. If the physical requirements to sail the boat increase by say 25%, we could see a vacuum created that would need to be filled by younger sailors who probably do not have the financial means to own the boat (a Moth is 1/2 the price if you want to foil).
As the boats start to fly and the speeds increase to the low to mid 20’s, mistakes will be harsh on not only the sailor’s bodies but on the structure of the boat itself. The current boats are amazingly strong and durable. If we start to routinely fly, it remains to be seen whether the boat’s can handle the different load and torque dynamics on a routine basis. Crashing at over 20 knots of boatspeed will be hard on a boat that only weighs 75 kg and has a 29′ tall lever arm pushing the bows down, totally different dynamics than a Moth going over the cliff. If breakages and failures get out of control as the boats begin to fly, there is the potential for another vacuum to get created both in terms of losing sailors but also builders who get driven out of business because they cannot keep up with the warranty claims. There is also the insurance question. If the A-clas becomes a boat that has the potential for substantial damage in a routine “crash”, no insurance company will want to offer coverage. Some will not insure our boats due to mast breakage claims.
From my own standpoint, I don’t need to foil for the pure sensation of speed. I own a quiver of sailboards that in 15-18 knots are capable of sailing faster that an A-Cat will ever go even on foils and I can do that at a lot cheaper cost and at much less risk to my body and my financial investment in equipment. That is a perspective that I believe many in our class share.
I’ll speculate that it’s possible Landy’s strategy for racing a “conventional” boat is to not only sail what he is the most comfortable with but also to be a benchmark in this championship that will be important for the direction he leads the class as its class president. Scott Anderson’s performance so far is a great reference point as he typically does not trapeze downwind nor is he sailing a foiling package I believe. Scott is also in his late 50’s so represents what is possible competing against the younger guns in the top five that have the financial support of TNZ. If the breeze truly lightens to the 5-8 knot range for racing later this week, it will be very interesting to see how Landy and Scott perform. This is an exciting but kind of scary moment for the class. I hope we make the right choices to keep the class as vibrant as it currently is.
Bob Hodges – A-Class USA 230