“Talking Sailing” by Richard Crockett – issue 01

“Talking Sailing” issue 01
by Richard Crockett

The intention of ‘Talking Sailing” is to occasionally cover topical issues in the sport of sailing, however difficult they may be. So expect some hard-hitting editorials and even controversial observations and comments. But most importantly it will all be about sailing, so your feedback and items of interest are welcome via e-mail.

“Talking Sailing” is sent via e-mail, as well as being a ‘blog’ on the Sailing Gybeset website (http://sailing.co.za). To subscribe to the e-mail version, send an e-mail to: sailing@iafrica.com with the words “subscribe to talking sailing” in the subject line.

Readers are also welcome to contribute to “Talking Sailing” by mailing: sailing@iafrica.com

America’s Cup
I suppose that this should really be headed the Louis Vuitton Cup as these are the trials that have just been held to determine the challenger for the America’s Cup.

This was always going to be a one-sided affair with Team New Zealand winning hands down with a 7-1 score line against Luna Rossa Challenge.

While meant to be a showcase event, the consensus is that it has been nothing but boring, boring, boring as three races were decided on breakdowns, while the other five were runaway victories. Hardly the stuff to get excited about.

The America’s Cup itself starts on Saturday 7 September with a best of 17 race series which ends on Saturday 21 September.

Let’s hope that this is a more spectacular event with closer racing and fewer breakdowns.

I think that Grant Dalton and his Team New Zealand guys will do a far better job of running the America’s Cup, but to do this they need to win it! The pundits out there believe they have the firepower to put one over the Americans aboard Oracle Team USA. We wait and see.

Crew’s Union
The sport of sailing has always had a problem with crews as generally the skipper is the guy who gets recognised. It’s not right, and there is not always an easy solution to the problem, especially with large keelboat crews the size of a rugby team.

I must admit to being driven to despair when sent results of two-person crews that only show the name of the helmsman/skipper, or just a first name of the people aboard as the race organisers have failed in their duty to get the correct information.

Crews need to be recognised wherever and whenever possible.

I also get edgy when people believe that boats are not sailed by people.

Boats are sailed by people who have a first name and a surname, and two-person boats should at least carry the name of the helmsman and crew in the results. With modern computers today this should be easy, unlike in the old days when people like Hillary Ralph and other regatta secretaries used to work results manually on Rothmans Results Sheets. Who remembers those?

But I digress, so back to the crews union it is. I remember always spurring my skipper in my Flying Fifteen days when we crossed the finish line to win a race. I always told him he was second as I crossed ahead of him. Well in one race he decided to get the better of me as he was desperate to finish ahead of me. As we had a healthy lead he turned the boat around just before the finish line and went stern-to across the finish line. He was as pleased as punch having ‘reversed’ the trend and put one over me! Those were good days.

Some countries have large and well organised ‘crews unions’ – with membership exclusively for crews, and with clear rules and regulations being set for their skippers. Is there a need for one in this country, or are our crews happy to be bullied and abused by their skippers?

Let’s hear from you.

470 u21 European Champs
Asenathi Jim and Sibu Sizatu, under the expert guidance of Roger Hudson, finished a very creditable 7th in the 470 u21 Europeans. That meant they had made the medal race, but fickle winds prevented the medal races being sailed. This was unfortunate as they had everything to gain and nothing to lose in the medal race.

This 7th place follows their 16th overall in the 470 Junior Worlds a few weeks back.

What impresses me with this team is that they have set themselves crystal clear and tough goals. More importantly they are self-critical when they don’t achieve these, something very refreshing, and even foreign in the local sailing scene. It’s a no-excuses campaign, as the team simply get on with the job at hand of sailing fast, achieving credible results and qualifying for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

“Although we have not quite reached our goals, we have learned a lot as a group and the u-21 combo has improved significantly in terms of skills and understandings over the course of the 3 regattas they have sailed since we left for La Rochelle in early July. Sibu has made huge strides in terms of skill and confidence and he has gained some quality international racing and campaign experience. Coaching and mentoring the boys has been a pleasure and of course a great challenge that I have really enjoyed. The effort the guys have put into their training and preparation has been exceptional under very demanding circumstances and their ability to absorb tough lessons and come back stronger is what keeps my belief in them very strong for the future. We have a massive amount of work to do to reach our ultimate goals, but we are moving in the right direction” said Roger Hudson.

“It has been tougher mentally than I expected. Sibu and I have learned a lot as a team in terms of positioning and tactical racing and getting a better understanding together on and off the water. I’m really looking forward to the future and working more towards our goals.”  Asenathi Jim

“To me these were the toughest regattas I have ever sailed and for sure if they didn’t help me my skill would be so much lower compared to the other crews I have seen here. I have learned so much in this campaign and these regattas and there is still a lot to learn. Thank you to all of our sponsors and supporters and the Hudson family and Roger who has been more than a coach, but also a guardian to me.“ Sibu Sizatu.

It’s going to be interesting to watch this team’s progress in the future.

Volvo Ocean Race
If you thought that the Volvo race was not coming to Cape Town, think again!

Most people who follow this race know that Cape Town was left off the route for the next race when it was announced in January. The reasons are not material right now, although there may be a glimmer of hope that the race will return.

I have received information that the Brazilian Port of Recife may be unable to host the race, and that Cape Town will be substituted. “ The music coming from the beautiful Brazilian port city of Recife isn’t that of joyful samba, but instead of a funeral march.” That’s the info I received.

Without wishing the Brazilians any ill, it is good for our sport to host the Volvo Ocean Race in our country. We wait in anticipation.

The Bitter End
This is the inboard end of an anchor chain or rode. It is so called because in days of yore the chain would have been attached to the Bitts, though nowadays it would be fastened to an eyebolt in the chain locker – or at least it should be otherwise the chain or rode may all be lost overboard.

In our case I am using the expression to highlight an issue our sport should be above, and that is cheating.

Cheating. There is absolutely no place in our sport for cheats, yet Oracle Team USA is under the microscope as the International Jury will conduct a hearing on August 29 to determine if the America’s Cup defender has breached Article 60.1 of the Protocol. This hearing stems from the discovery that the team illegally altered their AC45s during the AC World Series. The investigation revealed that three boats under the team’s control either had weight improperly added to the boat, illegally lengthened the kingpost strut, or both.

Obviously they are not guilty of anything yet, but for the International Jury to conduct a hearing shows that there must be some evidence of something untoward having gone on.

Let’s wait and see what the International Jury find later this week?

But there is cheating in other forms too, like handicappers who cannot remain impartial, and bring personal issues into their handicap calculations. These people should be drummed out of the sport as no-one wants to go on the water being disadvantaged by a handicapper.

“Talking Sailing” is written by Richard Crockett, the Publisher & Editor of SAILING Magazine. To subscribe to the mag, or visit their ‘exclusively sailing books’ website (www.sailing.co.za) where books on sailing are available via mail order: go to: www.sailing.co.za or simply e-mail derri@sailing.co.za with your request.