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RYA Calls For Sailors for Britain's Double-handed Olympic Mixed Offshore Keelboat

11th December 2019
The Sun Fast 3600 Bellino raced by Rob Craigie & Deb Fish The Sun Fast 3600 Bellino raced by Rob Craigie & Deb Fish Photo: Rick Tomlinson

The RYA is on the hunt for sailors and boat owners interested in the new double-handed mixed offshore event that will debut at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

This exciting discipline will see mixed pairs battle it out over a 4-day offshore race in a new showcase for the sport.

As Afloat reported earlier, planning for Paris 2024 is already underway. The RYA has registered an entry for a British team in the 2020 World Sailing Offshore World Championship (OWC), held in conjunction with the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

The RYA would now like to hear from any motivated and experienced sailors interested in trying double-handed offshore sailing, and they are also keen to hear from any boat owners who may either be looking for a racing partner or prepared to loan or charter a suitable boat to others.

Jack Fenwick, RYA Keelboat Manager, is hoping to bring interested parties together in early 2020 with a view to running doublehanded offshore taster sessions and training next spring.

"Double-handed offshore sailing could appeal to a wide range of people from professional sailors to existing or former international sailors, or perhaps even those just graduating from our RYA British Keelboat Academy," he said. 

"At this stage we would like to hear from as many people as possible to try and build a database of interested parties. We would particularly like to hear from yacht owners who might be looking for partners to get afloat and give it a try."

In a vote of confidence for the existing RORC racing series, the RYA has announced that selection for the OWC, taking place in Malta in October 2020 in L30 yachts, will be based solely on the popular RORC Channel Race which starts from Cowes on August 1. 

"We believe the existing RORC Racing calendar of events will provide excellent training opportunities and should be a huge advantage to British medal hopes in 2024. It would be great to see lots of teams fighting it out for the double-handed trophies within the RORC's Season Points Championship" said RYA Director of Racing, Ian Walker.

RORC Racing Manager Chris Stone explained: "In 2020 the Channel Race will run as normal for our IRC rated fleet but we will extend the race for those double-handed mixed entries who wish to be considered in the RYA selection for the OWC. The intention is for this selection event to best replicate the duration of the OWC which is likely to be 3 or 4 days."

RORC racing is IRC rated and not one design so in order to best reflect the criteria of the new Olympic equipment, the RYA selection for the OWC will only be open to fixed keel, monohulls within a proposed IRC rating band between 0.990 and 1.055 (subject to confirmation). 

Ian Walker: "We need to strike a balance between keeping the rating band as narrow as possible to minimise the impact of the boats' rating differences on the results and making the selection as accessible as possible for a range of suitable existing boats. We will confirm the rating band after any revisions to the IRC rule for 2020."

The official selection policy will be published by 1 March 2020 but anybody interested in getting involved in double-handed, mixed offshore sailing is warmly encouraged to register their interest by sending an e-mail containing details of their sailing experience, aspirations and their boat (if they have one) to: [email protected]

If more than 20 nations enter the OWC then there will need to be a country qualification event in Europe in May / June 2020. Britain would then need to send a representative team to aim to qualify a place for Britain for the OWC in Malta and an announcement will be made on how these representatives will be selected once the details are announced by World Sailing in due course. 

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Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat

For the first time in sailing's Olympic history, a Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat event will be on the slate at the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Competition.

The Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat will join kiteboarding, windsurfing, multihulls, singlehanded and doublehanded dinghies and skiffs, promoting the diversity of the sport. This, in turn, will support World Sailing's desire to promote and grow universality in all disciplines and increase female participation with gender-equal medals and athletes.

Offshore sailing is the ultimate test of endurance, skill, discipline, navigation and critical decision making.

Embracing a major part of sailing in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games will enable new stars of the sport to come to the forefront.

Qualification

Offshore sailing is a universal discipline that every World Sailing Member National Authority (MNA) can participate in.

Up to 20 nations will be on the start line at Paris 2024 and sailors from every continent will be represented. To qualify for the Olympic Games, continental qualification events will be held and competition for a spot will be hotly contested.

Equipment

For qualification events, World Sailing will approve a list of one-design boats that are already regionally available and can be accessed as a charter boat. Boats will be equalised to ensure fair competition.

For Paris 2024, World Sailing's Council will select a list of different Equipment it considers to meet the key criteria by 31 December 2020 and then make a decision on the Equipment, selecting from the list, no later than 31 December 2023.

MNAs, Class Associations and Manufacturers have all been invited to propose Equipment for the list and a World Sailing Working Party will evaluate each proposal. A recommended list will be presented to Council for approval in November 2020.

This recommended Equipment list will ensure that event organisers, MNAs and the sailors have opportunities to train and compete in Equipment that is readily available and affordable within their continent and country. It will also ensure each MNA has a fair opportunity to prepare for qualification events and eventually, Paris 2024.

Format

Starting and finishing in Marseille, the Mixed Offshore event is expected to last for either three days and two nights or four days and three nights off the French coastline and whoever crosses the finish line first will be declared Olympic champion.

The race course and length will be announced in the lead up to the start so the competition can take advantage of the latest weather forecast. Current options proposed include long and short courses heading towards the West and East of France.

Safety and Security

The French Navy and Mediterranean forces have extensive experience of supporting major oceanic sailing races. They will provide safety and security at Paris 2024.

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