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Growing match racing in North America
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The Publisher
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Mar 1, 2011, 7:55 AM

Post #1 of 6 (15728 views)
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From Scuttlebutt 3288...

GETTING NORTH AMERICA BACK ON THE MAP
While the popularity of match racing in North America has traditionally lagged behind the levels of enthusiasm seen elsewhere around the world, a recent steep rise in the number of events and participants indicates that the tide is starting to turn.

Match race sailing is now very much on the rise, with growth being supported by over 25 clubs and match racing centres around the US with Canada, Bermuda, and the US Virgin Islands also actively running match racing events.

The numbers alone show the dramatic increase in the sport. From 2007 to 2010 the number of graded match races nearly doubled from 34 to 65 events. This year will see a host of both open and women’s Grade 1, 2 and 3 events, many inter-connected with each other as qualifiers, as well as “clinegattas” for youth sailors and the annual international youth match racing championship the Governor’s Cup.

This focus on getting youth involved in match racing is also prominent with the Intercollegiate Sailing Organisation adding match racing to their programme by introducing a new national championship in 2010.

US Sailing’s Match Racing Committee Chairman Dave Perry says the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) - the nine event international series which sees the crowning of the ISAF Match Racing World Champion - is “having a magnet effect on the growth of interest” in match racing in the region.

He says the quality of competition, the level of publicity it gains and the substantial prizes mean many young sailors tell him they aspire to be on the WMRT someday.

“The WMRT is the pinnacle of one-design match racing. It sets the bar high for running match racing events, and is innovative with new ideas on bettering the racing and the promotion of the sport and its players. This has a trickle-down effect. It is the big show that our young match racers aspire to compete in and work towards.”

Perry also says the WMRT is a known proving ground for talent which sailors hope to parlay into other professional sailing opportunities.

Mike Buckley is a young pro sailor in the US, and has managed to qualify for two events on the Tour last year. He says that these events have been very inspiring to him and other young talent in the US. “The World Match Racing Tour has younger guys doing really well so the US sailors really look up to that.”

Twenty-two-year-old Tulane University student and avid sailor Patrick Ryan says he watches the WMRT races online and dreams of competing on the world stage. “If my team and I had the time to practice as well as the same type of backing, we would unquestionably be able to compete at that level.”

And this is the problem: how will this aspiring talent overcome the barriers of geographic isolation from the events and a lack of funding to get on to the Tour? The current level of momentum in growth and popularity of match racing may yet yield some opportunities to overcome these barriers.

Perry says in order to continue this current level of growth and get more North American sailors on the WMRT, they are building a clear pathway from entry level through to the WMRT. -- Read on: http://tinyurl.com/WMRT-022811




The Publisher
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Mar 1, 2011, 7:59 AM

Post #2 of 6 (15726 views)
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I read with interest the article in Scuttlebutt 3288 regarding the steep climb of North American sailors to the WMRT program. In Perth, Western Australia we had for many years the Australia Cup and three years ago with the sponsorship of Royal Perth Yacht Club the cup was reinstated on the calendar and is now a grade one event with an auto qualifying slot into the last and most lucrative of the WMRT races the Monsoon Cup. Royal Perth Yacht Club alternating with Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club also host the Warren Jones International Youth Regatta which is for sailors (Skipper and Crew) 25 years of age or under with the winner gaining slots in grade 1 European match racing events as well as travel money and to help defray costs.

Both these series are raced in a matched fleet of Foundation 36 owned by Swan River Sailing a not for profit organisation that “charters” the boats to the individual series. Both series attract sailors from all over the world with this year our first Japanese sailor competing in the WJR. Over the past few years the Australia Cup has had the best of the world’s match racing sailors competing including Ben Ainslie (current world champ), Torvar Mirsky (currently sailing with an AC2013 challenger), Adam Minoprio (previous world champion)and many others whose names read like a championship list of sailors. The competition in both regattas is extremely high and the racing is fierce. Past winners include James Spithill, John Bertrand and a virtual whos who of international match and AC racing.

I am therefore writing to the Scuttlebutt forum to let your North American readers know that in order to reach the levels required to win at the upper levels of the WMRT you need to start young, get out of your comfort zone, race where the racing is the best and compete against the best you can find. We know Perth, Western Australia is long way from North America but it is also a long way from Europe and yet European sailors make the trip regularly to compete at the best levels available in their attempts to gain an entry into the WMRT.

If North American sailors are interested in competing in either of these events I suggest they visit www.swanriversailing.com where there are links to the Australia Cup and Warren Jones web sites and if interested record your interest early as slots in both events can become hard to get as they draw closer. Oh and by the way Royal Perth Yacht Club, Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club and Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron are all huge supporters of teams entering the Warren Jones regatta as they see the need for youth to gain the experience that will give them the opportunity at the highest levels in later years thereby improving each club’s own sailing programs.

I hope this will generate some interest from your readers, we would love to welcome a team or teams from North America.

Regards

Les Valmadre




The Publisher
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Mar 3, 2011, 10:28 AM

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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.




The Publisher
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Mar 3, 2011, 10:31 AM

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In Reply To
* 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!

Bill Canfield
St. Thomas Yacht Club


ms
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Mar 3, 2011, 2:05 PM

Post #5 of 6 (15674 views)
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Duh! I have raced for 40 years and we have never been a spectator sport. The pros might produce something that is spectator driven but sorry it just isn’t. Match Racing is fun for the competitors. So is team racing. So is Fleet racing. Pick your poison or do all. I prefer fleets. Charleston Race Week will have over 240 competitors this year on 4 courses and guess who is watching. No one. Lightning fleet has a great Southern series going strong. How many people are watching. No one. Sure there are some people that happen to be out on the water but no one is watching. We are participating. Charleston is a great place to visit and different classes go to other events because it is a great place to vacation sail, tell lies, etc. There are tons of reasons to sail in events and very few that we worry about people watching unless someone is getting paid to sail. Sorry, amateur sailing has almost nothing to do with spectators except a few parents for the small boats and I wish those parents would sail instead.

Sail fast, often, and have fun!

Ryan Hamm
Charleston, SC


ms
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Mar 3, 2011, 2:31 PM

Post #6 of 6 (15670 views)
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May I respond to Tony Nunes on his comment in SCUTTLEBUTT 3290 on how to get back North Americans back on the map (and for that matter why not all the world?) by focusing on events that "are far more interesting," for the public.

Lets discard the "boring" match race because "It is a great challenge for the participants " and only for them. I thought that when anyone goes sailing or racing he/she is doing it exactly because "It is a great challenge for the participants ".

If I wanted to please the public I would choose another sport - synchronized swimming comes to mind, no offense meant.

Respectfully,
Zvi Ziblat, Israel




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