“Talking Sailing” by Richard Crockett – issue 20

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17 July 2014

by Richard Crockett

Reader response is welcome.
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If the Cap Fits…
I was taken to the proverbial cleaners over the “Bitter End” in the last issue. No names were mentioned, but one man felt it applied to him.

Don’t assume my posts are about you. But if you’re affected, then that must mean you’re guilty of something.

MSC Regatta – IRC Division
The following arrived via e-mail and has created some interesting discussion: “MSC is the biggest supporter of sailing in Durban when it comes to financial commitment so surely committed IRC owners should be sailing? If not, is IRC still relevant in Durban? Interesting subject for a discussion – what does IRC do for sailing in Durban ?

Well the ‘wires’ went hot on this subject as there were just 2 IRC entries, although I believe that Craig Millar summed up the situation exceptionally well. This is what he had to say:

My 10c on the issue facing sailing in this province. It is a problem that I believe that some may understand, but are too afraid to verbalise for fear of treading on toes and reprisal. The problem lies in the divisions that exist within the sport in this province at every level. Sailing in this province has in my opinion been infected by a deep rooted sickness having many symptoms.

1. It causes the sufferer to believe that there is something wrong with other KZN sailors that do not subscribe to the same view as them, or belong to the same club as them.
2. It creates an irrational fear that plotting a bright new future for the sport will erase the history of sailing in the province, rather than writing the next chapter.
3. It causes those that freely give of their time to the sport to become personally maligned by those that have opinions, but who never put their hands up to do the work.
4. It is a sickness that causes blindness to the fact that the long term interests of the sport are also the long term benefits to the clubs and individual sailors.
5. It has affected sailors elected to positions of influence to believe that the position that they hold is for their personal benefit.
6. It causes sailors to forget that we do this sport for pleasure and not to get “one up” on a group of fellow sailors that happen to belong to another club or school of thought.
7. It makes sailors believe that what is important is the buildings and facilities and not the ability to spend a glorious day sailing on the water.
8. It causes great ideas to fail, because the idea came from somebody else, despite its obvious benefits to the sport.
9. It is a very contagious malady that quickly transfers to new members being inducted into our sport and keeps many away from getting involved.

We are like a dysfunctional family that cannot see that our future lies in the acceptance of the different opinions that individuals hold, but also in a common future, if we don’t stand by and watch it die. I wonder if those that have felt they are protecting the memories and history of the clubs, would choose to be remembered for allowing the sport to slowly die in their hands. If even half the time and energy spent in maintaining the political status quo was spent on developing a plan for sailing and not individual narrow interests, our sport would be in a far better state of health.

Would it really matter if we have a Royal Charter or a Lighthouse on our burgee if we have only 10 active sailors 1 year from now?

If we had one committee, one rescue fleet and a flourishing and healthy sport with one goal of ensuring a future would this not be enough?

This condition is definitely curable with a regular dose of “get over yourself and consider the bigger picture”. No need to even consult your doctor!

I understand that what I am saying is contentious but It would be out of character for me to behave any other way apparently. Even now there is so little left of the sport that I love that it is worth the risk to perhaps turn it around?

Offering Alternatives to Windward/Leeward Racing
(This has been reproduced from the Scuttlebutt newsletter)
For some years, the measure of a serious regatta has been strongly tied to how well the course axis is aligned with the wind direction and whether the starting line is perfectly square to the wind. But the pendulum of participant opinion is moving slowly toward less rigidity and more fun.

The NOOD regattas in San Diego, Seattle, and Chicago offered racing on random leg courses. One fourth of the entrants at Long Beach Race Week competed around government marks, oil islands, and breakwaters. Even the TP52 World Championship in Porto Cervo, Italy on June 10-14 scheduled two days for windward/leeward racing and three days for coastal courses.

This year, more and more events are offering alternatives to windward/leeward racing.

Perhaps the best idea in 2014 has come from Charleston Race Week, where the last race of the day for the HPR Class was a “race to the dock”.

The course began with windward/leeward legs, but then the final leg took the fleet home through the harbor to a finish near their marina. On board the Carkeek 40 Spookie, navigator Bora Gulari said this middle-distance addition was a welcome change. “These boats sail so much faster than they can go under engine power, and it’s ten times more fun to race back to the harbor than it is to drive a motorboat back.”

So there is more, much more to racing than a full diet of windward/leeward courses. Maybe race organisers locally need to give this some thought and become more creative in their offerings. After all, it is the competitors who get bored and simply don’t enter regattas if they have become stale. I have said it so many times previously, and will say it again. The essence of good sports marketing is to re-evaluate and re-design every event once it is complete. Keep the good, take out the bad and freshen it up. Yes, it’s really that simple.

Yet, too many race organisers simply regurgitate the same old, same old… year in an year out, and then blame the competitors for their lack of support.

Satellite Tracking of Yachts During Races
I was quite stunned to learn that apparently there were some competitors in the recent Vasco da Gama Race who believe that satellite tracking can disadvantage some competitors?

Having been bemoaning the fact for years that sailing is not an arena sport and is generally out of sight, I would have thought that every opportunity possible to bring it into people’s homes and offices would be grabbed with both hands and fully embraced?

If there is this belief, what are they hiding? Or is it a case of attempting to win at all costs?

I personally doubt that on a coastal race, or even during an ocean race, one can identify a competitor better off in a position distant from one’s own, and get to their position quickly enough to take advantage of those conditions. Most top skippers do their homework prior to a race start and have a game plan which they stick to in the belief that their research is correct and it will bring them home in a good position. Few vary much from their chosen strategy and course.

So where is the unfair advantage?

Reader thoughts on this would be appreciated as I believe it is a very important matter with possible long-term ramifications for the exposure our sport so desperately needs.

Wearing Life Jackets – Yes or No?
I followed a thread with interest on this interesting topic recently as it a subject close to our hearts.

What I did get from the thread is that there is an overwhelming sense that this is a choice that individuals should make, and not one that should be legislated. That is a view I wholeheartedly support.

What does need to be clarified though is that there is, in my opinion, a very definite difference between a lifejacket and an inflatable Personal Flotation Device (PFD). I do believe that there is some confusion in this regard. To me a lifejacket is one of those rather large bulky devices that one is mandated to carry. They will float with the casualty’s head out of the water for years. An inflatable PFD is a comfortable and easy to wear flotation device that one can either activate manually or automatically. PFDs should be encouraged as a safety item to be worn at all times as they are comfortable and don’t restrict one’s movements about the boat.

I have picked out some interesting and salient points as follows:
• Life jackets can be painful for a woman as they are not cut for cup sizes. I’d never be able to move around quickly (or at all) to do the things I need to do in order to be a good/safe sailor. I think when someone invents one that is thin and comfortable, like a light top, more people will wear them.

• I like the view that life jackets are worn when the individual wants or the skipper says so – but always at night or in poor visibility!

• I don’t always heed my own advice but do think wearing a PFD at all times is prudent. There are self inflating devices that keep the body area covered to a minimum so as not to be so hot and mobility is not impacted. Nautical emergencies happen: booms knock people over, sudden shifts can send you in the drink: unexpected things happen especially when racing. First rule of sailing: Stay on the boat and when that fails, wear a PFD!

• I can’t even believe there is a discussion. No PFD and you die — PFD and you stand a chance.

• Useless unless worn!

Our very own Dudley Dix, a Yacht Designer, was quite vocal on this matter. He said “I believe that it is a decision that should be made by the skipper of the boat based on the crew aboard and the weather and water conditions. I may be controversial in my opinion but I believe that “big brother” is sticking his nose in where he shouldn’t be when regulating things to the degree that is becoming common.

Over-regulation has made too many people rely on compliance instead of common sense in the way that they operate their boats. Fifty years ago there were a lot less regulations and boaters managed to stay safe by expertise and looking after their equipment. Now there are regulations to cover everything and too many boaters relinquish proper decision-making in favour of simply complying with the regs. Blanket rules cannot be applied to all situations.

That said, I agree that children should wear lifejackets. Personally, I wear one when sailing my high-performance dinghy and don’t wear one when sailing offshore on a big boat. As an ocean-crossing skipper, I would wear one as a last resort if the boat was at serious risk of foundering, but require my crew to wear a harness and be hooked on at all times in bad weather and low visibility.

Other than that a lifejacket is a nuisance that gets in the way of working the ship. Numerous crew have been drowned through being trapped under capsized boats, when they may have been able to free themselves without the jacket. Self-inflating lifejackets have a bad habit of inflating when you don’t want or need them to. Just because you get wet on the foredeck doesn’t mean that you want the jacket to inflate, but it does.

This is not a one-size-fits-all situation and the regulators should not pretend that it is.

Bart’s Bash – Register Your Club Now
The inaugural Bart’s Bash is a sailing race that will be run by sailing clubs all around the world on behalf of the charity, The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation. Each sailing club will sail an individual Bart’s Bash race at their location (with certain requirements to meet our world record criteria) on Sunday 21 September 2014.

Bart’s Bash will be joining together thousands of worldwide sailors in a race to set a new Guinness World Record, raise money for charity, inspire the next generation and also remember Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson.

It is the major fundraising event for the Foundation and we are asking people to raise money to support our charitable work. It is for this cause that we are suggesting people could pay a £5 donation to take part.

The race details will be set locally by each club, but are not onerous – at a bare minimum, to meet the world record rules, the course will need to be over 1km and you must sail for more than 15 minutes. We expect many clubs to use one of their normal Sunday morning races as their Bart’s Bash race – subject to any adjustments needed for the world record and event criteria.

Full details and the sign up process to enter either as an individual or to register your sailing venue as a location to host a race on the day can be found at www.bartsbash.co.uk

So far the following South African Clubs have registered:
Emmarentia Sailing Club
False Bay Yacht Club
Lake Deneys Yacht Club
Milnerton Aquatic Club
Mossel Bay Yacht and Boat Club
Point Yacht Club
Transvaal Yacht Club
Witbank Yacht and Aquatic Club

If you have not registered yet, do so now and be part of this world record attempt which also support a worthy charity.

NSRI Fund-Raiser
Durban has an annual NSRI fund-raising day which is a partnership between the Royal Natal Yacht Club and the Point Yacht Club. It has raised significant funds in the past, and this year was no exception.

R96 000 was raised on the day with pledges of a further R20 000 still to be accounted for.

I firmly believe that we should have a National Sailing Fund Raising Day (or weekend) with all yacht and boating clubs throughout the country doing their bit for our Sea Rescue service. Maybe this is something that SAS should co-ordinate? Any thoughts?

Rolex Ilhabela Regatta
News from Phil Gutsche is that he has chartered a Soto 40 for the Rolex Ilhabela Regatta in Sao Paulo, Brazil from 19  – 26 July.

His crew is: Rick Nankin (Skipper); Charles Nankin; Mark Sadler; Ken Venn; Golden Mgedeza; Hein de Jamaer; Vivienne Gutsche; James Largier and Nic Baigrie – a hot South African crew who will undoubtedly pose a threat to the fleet.

Follow the event at: http://my.ilhabelasw.com.br/crioula03/

Some Boating Humour
News from my Yacht Club
Me:    How was the race?
Brian:    I didn’t enjoy it.
Me:    Why not?
Brian:    I was late at the start.
Me:    How late?
Brian:    I was still at home when the gun went.

In the last “Talking Sailing” the Royal Navy Toasts were under fire. But here’s one with a difference:

Toast to a good bottom: At your anchorage, on your hull, and in your bunk!

Establishment of A Sailing School in the Midlands
South African Sailing (SAS) with the assistance of the Department of Sports and Recreation together with the Henley Midmar yacht club and other generous sponsors intends establishing a Sail Training establishment at Midmar Dam.

This facility is to cater for those families who wish to introduce their children to the lifetime sport of sailing as well as to provide a platform for interested schools to have sailing as part of their official school sport programme.

The instruction will be carried out by trained instructors under the Supervision of Ricky Robinson the Regional training development officer of SAS. It is intended to begin with a sail introduction course for beginners from the age of eight upwards and thereafter progress to the exciting concept of Team Racing.

The initial course will be taught according to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) curricular for the introduction to sailing and once sufficient proficiency is achieved graduates will be introduced to team racing.

Team racing as the name implies involves a number of boats competing against each other in teams where the position of the team at the finish is more important than the actual finishing positions. It therefore does not rely on sailing prowess but rather on decision making and strategy.

Henley Midmar Yacht Club has made its facilities available to the participants free on the day of instruction and once sufficient proficiency in sailing is obtained Members will be offering crew places on their boats for regular weekend sailing.

In order to promote and gauge the level of support for this facility SAS will be holding an OPEN DAY at the club for interested families to come along and let their children experience sailing on some of the sailing boats which have been loaned by members. Instruction and experiential learning will be under the supervision of the trained instructors.

The dates set aside for these OPEN DAYS are the 17th and 30th of August 2014.

Entrance to the Club will be free as will the day experience for the youngsters.
At the end of each day the participants will be invited to enroll in the concept and parents will be appraised as to the cost and frequency of the official course of instruction.

Information from: 033-330 4158.

Sailing as an Adventure Sport?
I was watching Noeleen on 3 Talk last night and she was interviewing a lady who runs www.featsa.co.za. They are an ” adventure group” who do all sorts of crazy things like white water kayaking/paragliding/long distance running and organise races involving all these sports, kind of like “Iron Man” events.

We are always looking to get more people involved in sailing, so here’s an idea off the top of my head.

Get these guys to hold a race, say, Kayaking from Umhlanga to the Marina. Once all the members of a team have arrived they can take off to, say, Bluff Yacht Club, half of the team running there and the other half sailing – give them a bunch of Oppies, or ask club members to make their dinghies available. Once all the members of a team reach BYC, they swop over and the “sailors” run and the “runners” sail. First full team to complete wins.

Or whatever combination of “water triathlon” events one can conjure up. Hey, presto, we got however many non-sailors on the water, and they may just come back for more.

On the subject of these adventurous people pushing themselves to their physical limits, I wonder if they need competency certificates to Kayak/Paraglide/Mountain Bike/ Run Gruelling races/Climb Dangerous Mountains?

Looking for Sue Fielden
This is a request from Eric Wells (ewells@wol.co.za)

I bumped into somebody the other day who thinks he may be a relation of Sue Fielden. Do you remember her from the very old CASA days – she helped on a couple of the early Rio Races and then moved to the Isle of Wight, where she worked with the clubs organising Cowes Week. Gordon Webb and I called on her when we went over to start arranging the Lisbon to Cape Town race, way back in 1990 I think, or earlier. I have heard rumours that she may have returned to South Africa and wonder whether any of our readers may be able to help with contact details.

Co-operative Inland Waterways Safety Programme
This is a reader response.

My response to the “Co-operative Inland Waterways Safety Programme” is great assuming you have credible studies proving these initiatives have benefits to SAMSA members. There are numerous other government departments tasked to use our taxes to assure the safety of our water systems and its citizens. I support the dam activity zoning initiative as it is within the LOGICAL role of SAMSA.

Weed Contamination
I support this however, the following;
I would like to know which has the greater causal effect to pollution on our inland dams, raw effluent, fertilisers and pesticides or boats ? Has any study been done on this ?

When you start talking about gates and gatekeepers and washbay officers …… I read more money I have to fork out, more red tape equals less people willing to go sailing.

On weed prevention
The club members and club culture will have more impact in my opinion than a uniformed “silver bullet” that will in my opinion end up as a highly paid boat washer. Its in my own and most club members interest to prevent weeds from polluting our dams – that’s the message that will improve the situation, not enforcement. Each club should build a culture of non-tolerance/ fines for anyone causing pollution.

On cleaning up the current mess
If I recall a portion of our taxes go to a department known as DWA – Dept of Water Affairs. It is their job to manage the water systems of this country, why is SAMSA trying to duplicate their job ? (We can’t afford to pay two people to do the same job). I have been a service provider to DWA in my past and understand the “root” cause of our dam ills, DWA is made up of 10% Engineers, 70% Social grants people and 20% revolutionaries leaders who still think their job is to destabilise. Why has the Rietvlei “bee” initiative not been implemented in other hot spots at dams (its 3 floats, a solar panel, a motor, a 12v batt and an impellor – placed strategically). Maybe we should focus on assisting DWA to do their job, not do it for them.

On water safety
No amount of red tape is going to prevent an idiot on water. Fact is most people are smart enough to pass silly tests sober and dumb enough to drive a boat drunk, that’s a fact of life.

It’s (in my opinion) the culture and behaviours of club members and seniors that may minimise undesirable/ dangerous behaviour. Are there any studies showing that increasing regulations to boat owners results in increased safety, in South Africa ?

If I recall a portion of my taxes go to the Dept of Education – My life was saved from drowning as a kid because my school required each pupil to go to a pool and learn to swim under supervision. It would make sense to make this compulsory at schools located in proximity to dams/ rivers. As a kid, if I was going to play in the water with my buddies, trust me, I would not climb into a taxi and go see the “wash bay” officer for a quick intro. Rather force schools to do the clearly logical thing – spend money I have already donated, to educate kids.

Your picture of an officer attentively watching through his binoculars is, in my opinion misleading, rather a guy sleeping on a bench next to the boat yard and binoculars long sold for something more rewarding is the picture in my mind.

In conclusion, yes I know I’m a moaner and no argument there. I am however a product of the environment I am exposed to and some would argue that moaning may also be mistaken for experiences I have endured, a product that has saved my backside on many occasions.

Simply put if government (read SAMSA) can’t create employment and raise taxes on tar then they are going to do it on water !

Some Selected Responses to “Talking Sailing”
● Congratulations on completing 30 years and 360 editions of “Sailing”. Your entrepreneurial effort is certainly adding value to all yachties and the industry as a whole. Well done on your achievements! – nothing comes easily and it requires passion, determination and hard work. Over the years I have enjoyed reading your “Sailing” and look forward to many more years doing so.

● Just a short note to congratulate you on 30 years of publication of your magazine. I have probably been a subscriber for most of that time and can only say that over the years I’ve watched with real pleasure as your magazine has gone from strength to strength to where it is today, a top notch magazine comparable to the best in the world. May the magazine continue to go from strength to strength.

●  Many thanks, enjoyed Talking Sailing Issue No 19. Most interesting – and commendable (to me) – that the Vasco da Gama Ocean Race is once again heading south, this time to Port Elizabeth.

●  Your publication is marvellous and extremely informative thank you and I eagerly await each edition. Many thanks for all your hard work and for sharing your vast knowledge with the rest of us.

●  Sending you greetings and congratulations on the 360th issue of Sailing Magazine. We look forward to your monthly news and do hope that this is just the first in a series of ‘360th’ issues !

The Bitter End
Those who bury their heads and refuse to see that our sport needs to evolve and be promoted positively.

The ‘Bitter End’ is the inboard end of an anchor chain or rode which should be attached to the vessel so as not to be lost overboard in it’s entirety. In terms of “Talking Sailing” it’s things about our sport which get up peoples noses!

“Talking Sailing” is written by Richard Crockett, the Publisher & Editor of SAILING Magazine, South Africa’s monthly sailing mag.

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“Talking Sailing” by Richard Crockett – issue 50

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