Sailing’s new speed craze may attract new blood
Speed bug has bitten sailors at the National Yacht Club
There’s no doubt Wednesday’s sensational America’s Cup win will have a future bearing on global sailing trends but how is it too far fetched to hope events in San Francisco Bay could stem a decline in sailing here?
New blood is needed in Irish clubs where membership has dropped by a quarter in the past five years. There’s widespread agreement something’s needed to make the sport more appealing but can billionaire Larry Ellison’s super fast America’s Cup help? One Dublin Bay Club appears to think so and has organised a presentation on speed sailing to promote the merits of ‘sailing faster’ early next month in a number of new skiff and foiling designs.
In a week when sailing became a global sports story, victorious cup boss Ellison has declared his foiling catamaran dream as having ‘changed sailing forever’.
There’s no question his victory tops off a series shaped by his vision.
World’s best sailors
Seeking the television audiences of auto racing’s Formula One or Nascar, his team advertised the world’s best sailors racing the world’s fastest boats – $8 million, 72-foot (22 metre) catamarans with 12-story vertical wings, capable of soaring above the waves on hydrofoils at speeds exceeding the posted 45mph (72kmh) limit on the Golden Gate Bridge near the course.
Now it remains to be seen how this technology trickles back home. Certainly, at more budget conscious levels, the speed bug has bitten sailors at the National Yacht Club (NYC) in Dun Laoghaire, who will use sailing’s new speed craze as an opportunity to recruit new blood into a sport that badly needs it.
Drop in members
According to the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) larger clubs, such as the NYC, have lost 30 per cent of their members over the last five years, resulting in a combined drop in ISA club membership of 24 per cent.
It’s a telling statistic made worse by the fact that even after a €1.25 million government investment in Irish sailing in 2012, the sport refuses to grow.
Sailing schools have also fared poorly resulting in a similar drop in ISA approved course participants. This month, after 40 years of operation, the country’s largest sailing training centre Les Glenans closed the doors on both its centres in Baltimore, West Cork and Collanmore, Co Mayo.
The NYC is taking a leading role in developing high performance dinghy sailing by organising a presentation evening and debate on the subject of faster sailing. Former youth champion Ben Lynch is organising the session on Friday, October 4th, at 6.30pm in the NYC.
The east coast club’s star sailor Annalise Murphy, the Laser Radial European champion, is already onboard and campaigning a foiling Moth dinghy.