Mar 3, 2011, 10:31 AM
Post #4 of 6
Re: [The Publisher] Growing match racing in North America
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* From Tony Nunes, Houston, TX:
I refer to your lead article in Tuesday's Scuttlebutt 3288 about getting North America back on the map and match racing being on the rise. I have one comment that may get me in a lot of trouble with the purists of our sport. My comment is that, except for the start of a match race (which is over very quickly), match racing is very boring for spectators. It is a great challenge for the participants and a lot of fun for the winner, but for spectators, in my view, fleet racing or team racing, is far more interesting.
As the article states, I think it is fantastic that there has been a rapid rise in our youth getting involved in match racing, because any increase in involvement by the youth is good for the sport generally. But in my humble view if the goal is to get more of the public involved in our sport and thus attract more young talent, match racing is hardly likely to be the future of our sport. But I could be wrong and I invite comments.
Five years ago i would have agreed with all that Tony Nunes said and I would have been the last person to defend match racing. Now after becoming involved in this discipline of sailing as a spectator and race officer has changed my opinion 100% the other direction.I now find it not only incredibly exciting but also strategic in a way that you can almost put yourself in the boat and guess what the next move each each skipper will make will be and see the instant consequence of his / her actions and what new challenge that last move produces.
Recently in the Miami Olympic training event hosted jointly hosted by Chicago Match Race Center and the US Sailing Center in Sheboygan in the Elliot 6 meters there was any number of races coming down to a finish with boats literally inches a part. That is exciting no matter what your interest in sailing. Watching a boat trying to shed a penalty while protecting the finish line is also something that will surprise you if you haven't seen it accomplished before. its all part of the game.
Match Racing events must be run very differently than fleet racing to be successful. The course does not have to be exactly square. A slightly skewed course often makes for better racing. The key is to run race after race without delays. Thirty seconds after a flight finishes the next starts. Don't waste time making small adjustments and waiting for favorable breeze. Start the race, keep it flowing. All boats racing at all times. Thats the key to good match races for spectators and sailors alike.
Most successful match races are picking venues close to shore, using talented sailors to provide commentary and streaming live races on the internet. All this adds to the excitement and understanding of what is taking place on the water. I believe once you have gone to a well run match race with all the frills and good competitors most folks will change their mind about the supposed boring nature of the sport.
Until recently North American sailors were locked out of the ISAF rankings unless they traveled to Europe because the ranking like quite a bit of international sailing has a strong European bias. Now there are a growing number of Grade 1 and 2 events in the US that will allow our sailors to increase their skills and climb the rankings.
Stop by Chicago Match Race Center, Oak Cliff Match Racing Center (NY) or Sheboygan this summer for a proper match race event - I think you will be surprised!
St. Thomas Yacht Club