Restricted and expensive access to good event venues are competitive sailing’s biggest obstacle in the USA. Does this explain America’s Olympic difficulties over the past few cycles? Windsurf Olympic lifer Farah Hall reports that in Miami, it’s only getting worse.
From her blog:
In preparation for the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta, the first World Cup event of 2016, many sailors competed in “Midwinters” regattas held at the sailing clubs in Coconut Grove. These small events have a history of about 4-5 years and are normally used as a low-key warm up before the World Cup. However, this year one little regatta was the victim of an unfortunate trend in both the Olympic class circuit and the American racing scene: escalating costs for sailors, facilitating exclusivity.
The men’s and women’s RS:X fleets were stunned when confronted with a $200 entry fee for a small three-day event. The cost of the three-day Midwinters event combined with the cost of the World Cup ($350 for singlehanded boats plus $150 coach entry) can run sailors as much as $700 just to participate in the regattas. In Europe or South America, regatta fees for small events are normally around 40-60 euro, or $50-75. High level European World Cup regattas, week-long events, cost around 200 euro or $220. Factoring in travel expenses, coaching or a boat (a critical need for RS:X sailors to reach the starting line on time in light wind and carry food and water), and the high cost of housing in Miami, this event can push even the most financially solvent competitor over budget. American sailors are required to compete in Miami almost every year to qualify for the US Sailing Team. For “average Janes” like me, it’s a steep hurdle indeed, and one that will remove any middle-class, self-funded but motivated sailor from the racing community.
Because less women than men were registered and paid online for the Midwinters, the women decided to defect from the regatta and hold their own event or “coaches’ regatta” while the men stayed with the original event. (Even so, a third of the men did not compete due to the cost). The entire women’s fleet removing themselves from the event was the fault of both sailors and organizers, but the incident strongly serves as an example of what can happen when sailing federations and clubs try to profit from sailors instead of promoting the sport.
Read the full story here.