300 v’s 76,

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By now we have all heard that the Fastnet “sold out” in 24 hours with 300 entries to this years race and a waiting list that is growing by the day. So why has the Fastnet and the Newport Bermuda races got such a big following, but the other great ocean race, The Sydney to Hobart with just 76 entries, struggles to get an entry list anywhere near the size.

The GFC has certainly taken its toll, how many new boats have been built since 2008 compared to 2000 to 2007. With an aging fleet and simply no money to spend on them, they must stay at home. This may be where the Northern Hemisphere has an advantage, the majority of the fleet heading to Fastnet Rock and back are production cruiser racers. These are largely built by government subsidized yards that can in turn sell a very competitive prices and keep the fleet modern and up to date.

Or is it something else? Has Australia put so much emphasis on convincing kids the Olympics is the target that people no longer want to do ocean races. Don’t get me wrong, its great to see the reaction and interest generated by the Aussie Olympic guys and girls being so successful.

Growing up in Sydney, and doing lots of offshore racing, harbor racing and one design racing, The Hobart was the holy grail. But not so much any more, as kids turn to the Olympics for inspiration and then onto the Americas Cup, are we going to see a further decline in Australian sailors filling the key roles on the winning boats at these great ocean races and even the Volvo Ocean Race? Already more kiwi’s do the Volvo than Aussies which is impressive considering they have a smaller population base and also do not like to do hard offshore races like the organisers of the new Auckland to Bluff Ocean Race race are finding out.

Where is the next Chris Nicholson, Andrew Cape, Will Oxley or Wade Morgan going to come from if the youth sailors of today aren’t getting out the and doing these races?

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5 Comments

  1. Could it be that the race is marketed at everybody, including Class 2,3 & 4, and not just the supermaxis racing for first to finish?

  2. Absolutely the focus here is too Olympic/AC focused as a route. I recently met a lady here in AKL in her 70’s who’s been trying to a) learn to sail and b) go offshore racing for 30years and can’t find anyone to teach her and take her on. Everything was ‘squad’ oriented and there is no offering in the marketplace that she could find to train her up – and she was willing to pay.

    Compare that to Sailing Logic in the Solent, one of several ‘pay-per-play’ race/charter outfits that run a fistful of boats every weekend and run people up the ranks. Their top-gun boat just won both its IRC division in the Solent winter series and the RORC offshore series – as well as the RORC Series overall (and Fastnet wins in the past). All this with a pay-per-play crew of weekend warriors who will go on to crew on other yachts….. check out http://www.sailinglogic.co.uk/

  3. I think it has more to do with marketing and management failings at the CYCA and their partners. This year’s event was a classic example:

    – One of the favourites was excluded
    OK they may have been at fault in not getting certification but the CYCA should have helped them to get in – not waited until the last minute to exclude them. That really discourages other boats to enter.
    – The live stream was blocked from overseas access
    This despite being run by Yahoo! and announced as being available on the website
    If you want to market the Sydney-Hobart as an international event make it available to an international market
    – The tracker didn’t work properly.
    You couldn’t follow favourites, it didn’t update properly and there was less information than in previous years. This despite using tracking equipment from a market leader. A hacked solution from a freelance developer worked better than the official site which crashed frequently.
    – There were few media updates on social media apart from work hours
    Anyone heard of the 24hr news cycle? And what about the rest of the world.
    – None of the people calling the race knew what they were looking at.
    There are plenty of articulate sailors around – why not use them?
    – Telstra’s 3G network crashed during the start
    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict the amount of traffic and prepare for it accordingly.
    – Photos on the official site had no captions
    Who, what and why would help
    – Why were we led to believe there was only one boat in it?
    Some more analysis would make it more interesting rather than regurgitating press releases
    – Where were the multiple live streams from the boats?
    The technology has got better/cheaper

    Other suggestions welcome.

  4. I’ve lost interest in the Sydney to Hobart. There are better things to do on Boxing Day now than watch Wild Oats XI be the first boat out of the heads.
    The race needed a new website dramatically, and I think they have a good site now, but Pewit is right, there wasn’t enough updates about what was actually happening out there, live from the people who knew it best, the sailors.
    The tracking system they use has it’s own back end with mapping, I don’t understand why they didn’t just use that?! The recent Auckland to Noumea race did and it worked really well.
    The news coverage is terrible for the S2H as well – again, all about WOXI because of their connection with Channel 7 as well. It’s a joke.
    Races need to lift their game. We expect more now, and I’m sure the sponsors would expect more as well.

  5. Interesting comments, yes media has something to do with the decline in sponsored entries for sure, but only a dozen or so of the76 entered were sponsored to that level, and all entered before the debacle that was the coverage. The question posed was, why do the competitors not want to race?

    Surely those doing the race aren’t concerned so much about the media coverage, it used to be about the challenge, not getting yourself in the lime light.

    So, posing the question again….. Why do the competitors no longer want to do the race?

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