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What Is The State Of Sailing In 2020?

20th April 2020
Flying Fifteens on Dublin Bay Flying Fifteens on Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat.ie/David O’Brien

With Covid-19 restrictions the world over giving pundits some pause to consider sailing’s overall health and prospects, Scuttlebutt Sailing News’ Craig Leweck has three observations when considering the ‘state of the sport’ in 2020:

  • When the cost in time and money to participate exceeds the pleasurable benefit, people seek alternative activities.
  • Better isn’t always best, as the natural inclination for improvement slowly eliminates those that choose not to chase the rising bar.
  • We are capable of evolving toward extinction.

It’s an old story that as the technology that underpins a sport or pastime improves, its costs can and often do rise with it. In sailing that means everything from sails and cordage to electronics and hardware — and much of it unnecessary for the outliers, those with non-professional aspirations, who breathe life into sailing communities.

Leweck laments: “At some point in time our pursuit of perfection took over our weekend regattas, and every course configuration became windward-leewards, and every event took on the format of a world championship.”

But the good news, Leweck says, is that the basic still apply and “you can still affordably get into this sport”, via the likes of fibreglass keelboat classes “that provide sturdy platforms for racing” and are conducive to keeping interest up.

His sentiments echo those of our own W M Nixon, who has also mulled over the cruising-racing divide, who wrote recently: “In the end, it is the prospect of regular quality racing which is the real engine in keeping any class motoring along. Yet even here, realistic local expectations are much more relevant than high-flown aspirations towards course-setting perfection in yacht racing.”

Scuttlebutt Sailing News has much more on the story HERE.

MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Irish Sailing Classes and Association – There’s no shortage of one-design classes from which to choose and each gives its enthusiasts great competition, fun and camaraderie, writes Graham Smith in this review of the classes. 

One-design racing is where it all starts. It is, after all, where all the top sailors earned their stripes, battling away for line honours without a thought for a handicapper’s calculator wiping away a hard-fought victory!

Indeed, you could count on less than one hand the number of top Irish sailors who didn’t cut their teeth in a one-design dinghy! Just think of Cudmore, Barrington, Watson, Wilkins, Hennessy and Dix to name a few and you realise that they honed their skills in everything from Enterprises to Lasers and a lot in between.

At present count, there are a little over 30 one-design classes in Ireland, split almost evenly between dinghies and keelboats, a statistic which might raise a few eyebrows. They range from the long-established Mermaids, IDRA14s and Dragons to the newer additions like Fevas, Topaz and RS Elite. They all fill a particular need and give their owners and crews considerable enjoyment.

Many have attracted their World or European Championships to Irish waters over the years and while 2009 is notable for a lack of such events here, the following year will see the Etchells Worlds at Howth and perhaps a few other international regattas too.

In addition to the review, we asked each class to complete a questionnaire giving details of their fleet numbers, whether they were on a growth pattern or holding their own, so we could highlight those ‘on the up’ and those remaining static in terms of numbers. The older traditional designs, as you might imagine, fall into the latter category, although that’s not a negative!

CLASS REVIEW  The State of the Classes – League Table (as at February 2009)

S = Static; U = Up/growing

275     Optimist   U

200+   Laser   S

189     Mermaid   S

160     Flying Fifteen   S

130     RS Feva   U

115     Shannon One Design    U

100+   Mirror   S

100+   Topper   U

99       Topaz   U

94       Laser SB3   U

87       GP14   U

85       Squib   S

70       Fireball   S

70       Ruffian   S

60       J24   S

60       Shipman   S

52       Dragon   S

50       RS400/200   S

50       420    U

43       Multihulls    U

42       Dragon    S

40       Water Wags    U

40       Wayfarer    S

34       IDRA14    U

33       Puppeteer    U

28       Etchells    S

27       E-Boat    U

26       Glen    S

25       Enterprise    S

18       Sigma 33    S

18       Howth 17    U

13       RS Elite    U

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