view of the rings, down under

So the question that gets asked at sailing clubs right around Australia has now been firmly put on the agenda – we find ourselves questioning the relevance of the Olympics and also bashing on the decisions by our international governing body.
And here we sit in our own corner of the world, and ask ourselves, in a day and age where the commercial world is swallowing everything in its path, where does sailing fit in the Olympics?
A number of key sailors on the Olympic circuit recently penned an open letter to the sailing community, asking World Sailing to reconsider its thinking for the Paris 2024 Games, which has placed classes such as the 470 (men and women), Laser Standard (men), Laser Radial (women), the Finn (heavyweight men), and the men and women’s windsurfer under review.
These sailors raise important issues about the importance and relevance of the classes they have trained in for years, but let us take a step back for a short time and look at this issue with a wider lens.
For years, sailors have talked about how hard it is to make sailing a television sport, how it is not attractive to sponsors and advertisers, and how the demographic is one of older well-off individuals who don’t need the corporate support. It’s also clear our qualifying process for the Olympics is a shambles, outlined by the last cycle’s decision to not send a 49erFX crew to the Rio Games as they were not seen as a realistic medal chance, despite qualifying to compete. We covered this issue in an editorial piece titled ‘Sold a dream with no reality’.
There are now several professional circuits around the world enabling sailors to make a living in their dream job. The America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, Extreme Sailing Series, World Match Racing Tour and SuperFoiler Grand Prix are examples of this. They are examples of how corporate funding and an industry-driven product can make it in the mainstream, so why is it necessary to slog away on a four-year cycle, fork out the big bucks and put yourself significantly behind in life.
Read on.