The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) are to combine their efforts to develop double-handed offshore sailing in the UK.
The announcement follows World Sailing’s controversial decision to select a Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat event for the 2024 Olympics, and the recent announcement to hold an Offshore World Championship for mixed double-handed sailing in October 2020
The decision will be a major boost for the World Sailing organisation which has come under a lot of criticism for the way that the changes to the 2024 Olympic classes were handled.
For the RORC it gives Offshore sailing an Olympic platform and for the RYA, who train and select the British Olympic sailing squad, it brings them into close contact with top offshore crews, who will now presumably be able to take advantage of UK Sport funding as part of the British Sailing Team.
The RYA currently support keelboat activity through support of the British Keelboat League in addition to the National Match Racing Series and the British Keelboat Academy. Keelboat Manager Jack Fenwick is looking into how to further support double-handed offshore sailing in the UK.
Double-handed entries for RORC’s iconic Rolex Fastnet Race have increased from 36 boats in 2017 to over 90 entries in 2019, with 63 of those entries racing under IRC rating system, demonstrating a strong desire by people to sail double-handed offshore.
Initial indications from World Sailing is that for the Olympics they will not be selecting one particular class of boat until late in the Olympic cycle and that the intention is to focus on the discipline rather than the equipment.
But World Sailing has recently announced the selection of the the L30, a 30-foot one design keelboat, as the supplied equipment for their Offshore World Championship scheduled from 2020.
The Championship will be a two-person mixed competition (one man, one woman) between nations, featuring 20 boats. To date no information on the qualification system and race format have been released.
All of the RORC races have double-handed divisions and an overall series prize in addition to the IRC Two-Handed National Championship in September.
There will also be awards for the top mixed double-handed team to encourage mixed entries.