Driven by the incredible developments of technology in hull and especially sail design over the past 30 years, the powers that be are examining closely whether we should have a more modern version of race track on which to exhibit our skills. Toplevel feel very strongly that the idea of a race is to complete circuits. Changing this in our opinion is the equivalent to a Formula One race being run on a hill climb, or a horse race being unable to view the start and finish. By definition a race track consists of laps, whereas different types of racing consist of other skills needed than in lapping, in any sport!
We are therefore intrigued as to why World Sailing (WS) and others think that sailing should no longer be about windward and leeward laps. Is this because some people with their own agendas wish to change the nature of sail racing? It seems that with the advent of foils, kites, wings etc that we are developing a sport with different skills needed, so contentiously is this really the same sport of sailing? Interestingly the answer is generally a big yes. The America’s Cup (AC), a hugely influential factor in our sport, sticks to laps and even boundaries. The Olympics most certainly has stuck to circuits (laps). Specialist forms of sailing such as offshore and slalom are trying to gain traction in the most popular form of racing, but require such consistent wind to make them a measure of skill that it becomes debatable whether in the “serious” regattas they should have any place at all. It seems that some people in power don’t understand that predictable winners don’t need a lottery in order to justify many years work with an Olympic medal based largely on luck – a point brought up in favor of alternative courses in the recent WS meeting!
For once we are being purists and reactionary. We do not need new formats – we need the public to be able to understand racing and racing skills to be rewarded. The graphics developed largely in AC racing enable the public to understand racing better, as they can balance at a board and see who is further up the course. This is a fantastic advance that has been used, but not extensively, to educate people who are new to watching sailing. This sort of advance, combined with city center and stadium racing, are of huge benefit to the sport. We truly hope we don’t get led off a winning trail.
Reviewing the advances in technology and classes is a constant theme for us to keep at the sharp end of competitive sailing. We have some fantastic boats from the tiny Moth to the Americas Cup catamarans, and even the Vendee Globe boats which are fully capable of using a conventional lap and having inspirational racing. We have foils on a lot of classes – whether or not you question the validity of flying above the water rather than travelling on or through it, they fulfill all the requirements of racing a sailing boat. Further, they are controllable, turn well, and need no rewriting of the rules. Admittedly the jury is out on the latest AC mono-hull foiling boats, but they too should comply with the desired option to race round a circuit.
The reasons we are publishing this blog are that we would ask the sailors reading it to realize and recognize how exciting our sport is, and the developments made to become media friendly. However we also wish to recognize another great series about to be launched. We have been huge fans of the Extreme Sailing series ( Extreme Sailing Serieshttps://www.extremesailingseries.com/) which takes top class, fast racing to so many inner city and heavily populated areas of the globe. Now it seems we have a super version of the Extreme Sailing series in the form of SailGP – where six international teams utilize the last time around (but modified) AC series cats, which are still viewed by many as the most exciting boats yet raced. They’re supposedly capable of 50 knots, which is simply staggering. Toplevel sailing wish them all the best, and also give you the link below to look at a rundown of this amazing series by Sailing Illustrated.
We join many other well wishers in wishing them all the best, and of course Toplevel’s old friend Chris Draper with Team GB!