Solo round the world sailor Mike Golding was invited to the World Sailing Annual Conference, along with Dee Caffari, to give their perspective on solo and short handed ocean racing at a key forum.
The French sailing newsletter Tipandshaft.com published an interview with Mike Golding following his visit to the World Sailing Annual Conference where the decision was taken to include an offshore event in the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Golding is upbeat with the Offshore event selection, while critical of World Sailing’s inordinately complicated set-up, with so many meetings and mixed agendas, and the selection process for the format and the boat.
Golding takes a more open view of the introduction of a new form of sailing into the Games.
“Of course there are so many people complaining we have lost the Finn. But in the end that is one of ten medals. If it goes that far that there is offshore racing in the Olympics it is one of ten medals. And at least it has been given a try.”
“And the other thing is because it will happen 24 hours a day. Sailing in the Olympics is definitely niche and definitely not the most popular and is a terrible sport for TV. Now it can occupy a different space which no other event can. And I think that will increase the profile tremendously.”
“I took some risks. I stood in a room full of Olympians and told them the Olympics was the equivalent of go karting compared to Formula 1. That was a bit of a gamble. But to some extent it was water off a duck’s back.”
“Five seconds later they were arguing the toss about Olympic event minutiae. But in the context of offshore inclusion in the Olympics, it was part of a general impetus for a representation of offshore sailing in the Olympics.”
He does have reservations over the selection process for the Keelboat.
“They have a working party that is assembling ideas. But Stan Honey is the only person I can see with any sizeable offshore experience, but he has no shorthanded experience.”
“A 24 hour race is no good. It has to be long enough that you have to sleep. You have to rest. It has to be an offshore race, like a Figaro, nothing more nothing less.”
Golding is also critical of the supposed choice of boat, the L30 which has a lifting keel with a trim tab, although the statement from World Sailing only mentions a sloop rigged, non-foiling monohull, between 6-10 metres in hull length.
And World Sailing selection criteria requires Equipment trials to be held before a decision on the Equipment is made at the 2019 Annual Conference.
Golding finishes with: “I do think it is an exciting development, but I do worry it will get screwed up.”
“This is such a great opportunity. 2024 is in France and people there will love it. It will do sailing a power of good. It is a big deal for sailing. It has gone well.”
“But this is a Brexit like decision. It is dividing people and you are in one camp or the other. That is unfortunate. But this is still only ten per cent of Olympic medals and yet offshore sailing probably represents more than 50 per cent of the sailors worldwide. We are not represented in the Olympics.”
France 3 (french public TV channel) achieved incredible viewing figures for the start of the Route du Rhum last Sunday with 1.73 million viewers and an audience share of 12.3%.