Italy Sailing Sports USA

More Sailing Event Cancellations Amid COVID-19

The month of August opens on a sour note for the sailing buffs. Three glorious sailing events have been called off. Many sailing events and regattas have been affected by COVID-19 and the travel restrictions associated with it, and it looks like July disappointments have spilled over to August as well.

2020 Melges 24 U.S. National Championship

In an announcement addressing the teams, the U.S. Melges 24 Class Association President Megan A. Ratliff confirmed that the event, which was slated for 15-18 October had been cancelled. These events typically attract many travellers, which could pose a health risk to the people, especially the elders. Hence, there are tight regulations in place regarding the size of events to reduce the health risk.

“We continue to be optimistic and pray that the situation surrounding COVID-19 improves,” Ratliff states in the announcement.

“Please know that your board is working hard, exploring options for a safe return to conducting our Class championships. I am confident that we will be on the same starting line soon. In the meantime, stay healthy and safe.”

2020 Formula Kite Worlds

The Italian resort island of Sardinia was prepping to play host to two major events — the Formula Kite Individual competitions and Mixed Team Relay Worlds. The reason, once again, is the travel restrictions in different parts of the world, which allows only European contestants to participate in the race. So, though there were no regulations imposed on the International Kiteboarding Association, the organizers decided to call off the event in the best interest of all participants.

The Mixed Team Relay World was the first event planned in Olympic format. The event was scheduled for 13-18 October in Torregrande. The Formula Kite Individual Competitions were slated for 6-11 October. The event was first planned in Weifang Binhai but was later shifted to Cagliari.

The next edition regatta will be held in 2021. Weifang Binhai would host the Formula Kite Individual Competitions in September 2021, while the Mixed Team Relay World will happen in Torregrande, in October 2021.

2020 RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup

Founded in 2002, with a vision to expose the junior sailors in Bermuda to international sailing regatta experience, the RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup plays a vital role in nurturing long-lasting associations with international sailors and Bermudians. the RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup is organized for teenage girls and boys aged between 12 and 15. The organisers think that it would be too much of risk to bring teenagers to Bermuda amid the pandemic.

“At the end of the day the risks involved did not match the reward as the full experience of the Junior Gold Cup would not be realized in 2020,” organiser of the RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup Dede Cooper said.

“It was a difficult decision and one that makes me sad as this is such a wonderful event for the youth sailors. As always, we are grateful to RenaissanceRe for their continuing support and look forward to welcoming everyone back to Bermuda sometime in 2021 for the 18th RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup.”

2021 RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup dates are yet to be announced.

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Next Edition of Ocean Race To Commence in 2022

The next edition of the Ocean Race, one of the toughest competitions in the sailing sport, has been scheduled for October 2022. The event will start from Alicante, Spain in October 2022 and finish off in Genova, Italy in 2023, the year that marks the 50th anniversary of this prestigious race.

This international sailing competition has scheduled stops in ten international cities across six continents. The organisers, for the first time in the history of the race, have released the confirmed event schedule for the next 10 years. A feasibility study for the European race slated for the next summer is also underway. This 10-year plan is a result of an effort to help the sailors, sailing teams, partner cities, and associates across the world to face the changing reality during the current pandemic crisis as well as through the post COVID-19 times. The organisers have invested time to collaborate and develop a positive way forward to an improved and stable future for all stakeholders.

The impact of COVID-19 on sailing, just like any other sport, has called for strategic planning involving the stakeholders and consultants to device a path forward in the current circumstances impacted by COVID-19 and beyond, through the changing sporting landscape.

Richard Brisius, the Race Chairman of The Ocean Race, shared “Since 1973, The Ocean Race has been one of the toughest challenges in sport. Winning teams have showcased that proper preparation is the foundation for success. We now find ourselves in unprecedented times and our first priority is with all those who have been and continue to be affected by the pandemic.”

“Winning The Ocean Race is still a big ambition for me”, says Peter Burling, Olympic and America’s Cup champion. He debuted in the Ocean Race in 2017-18.

“I know how much effort and planning and preparation it takes to put together a successful campaign. Building in this extra year ahead of the next race increases the likelihood of strong, well-prepared teams being ready on the start line in Alicante. I think this is a well-considered and good decision.”

A six-time race veteran and the co-founder of W-Ocean Racing, Chris Nicholson says, “The world has changed with COVID-19 and again we will witness the resilience of sailors, stakeholders and organisers of The Ocean Race. We have all lost significant time right at the crucial moment and this change is the right move. This will now allow us the time again to re-focus our efforts and be part of this great event.”

Racing with Purpose

Racing with Purpose, the prizewinning sustainability programme, is built upon the commitment to create a healthy marine ecosystem. Innovative workshops and summits are planned as part of this program, and the Genoa, Italy will be hosting the first edition. As an effort to inculcate the values in children, Racing with Purpose has developed a multi-lingual, curriculum-based immersive learning programme for school children, helping them understand the detrimental effects of plastic pollution on ocean ecosystem and our planet. It tells them how they can participate and contribute to the good cause. On the racing front, they are continuing to expand their ground-breaking innovations such as state-of-the-art technology using renewable energy on their racing boat classes like VO65 and IMOCA 60.

Destinations International Sailing Sports USA

Luke Muller Selected to Join U.S. Olympic Sailing Team

After the stunning performance earning a bronze in 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami following a 17th place in World Championship 2019, Luke Muller secured his place in the U.S. Sailing Team for 2020 Olympics. He becomes the 11th sailor to qualify for the U.S. sailing team for Tokyo Olympic Games 2020. This is going to be his debut in Olympics. The 24-year old sailor was training hard with beat his teammate Caleb Paine, the bronze medallist at the 2016 Olympics.

“It feels incredible to know that I will have the honour of representing our country at the Olympic Games next summer,” Muller said of his selection.

“It is very gratifying that all the hard work and sacrifice has resulted in this accomplishment. At the same time, I feel a profound responsibility to represent the US Sailing community as best I can. I continue to strive to be as prepared as possible and if I do my job it will be a great pleasure to race against the best in the world.”

Started as a recreational sailor, Muller became serious about the sport and made consistent progress with hard training. No wonder he holds the record of being the youngest champion of the U.S. Laser class. Later in 2014, before registering at Stanford University, Muller shifted his focus to the Finn to pursue his Olympic dream. He trained hard with his partner Paine and coach Luther Carpenter and made notable achievements like securing the third spot at the World Cups in 2019 and 2020.

Muller competed with Paine and Eric Anderson to secure his place in the Olympic team. He topped in two of the three qualifying trial events. The third trial, the 2020 Finn Gold Cup, has been postponed to October due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Head Coach of US Sailing Team Luther Carpenter shared his joy, “The news of Luke’s Games selection is very exciting for our Finn program.”

Recollecting the training period, Carpenter said, “We continue each day with the tasks at hand. The energy and commitment of our Finn sailors is at an all-time high, and the results we are seeing and the confidence it inspires is extremely encouraging. Luke’s progress this summer in fitness, goal setting, and technique has surpassed the targets we set in May. Both Luke and Eric Anderson, his training partner, are putting in the real-deal Olympic effort! I’m proud to be their coach.”

After the long break due to the pandemic, Muller is back to his on-the-water training. He utilised the COVID 19-induced break to work on his tactics and to focus on conditioning and weather. He is excited to receive the official confirmation of the nomination and is training hard to prepare for Tokyo.

“The plan remains the same. My coach Luther and I along with Eric Anderson have always strived to reach the highest levels of our discipline and we will continue to do that,” said the sailor.

Regarding the game strategies, Muller said, “We are working to dial in our Olympic equipment and refine the subtleties of technique as well as the tactical and strategic aspects of the game.”

International Sailing Sports

Organisers to Decide on Bermuda Gold Cup by August

The fate of this year’s Bermuda Gold Cup, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club’s prestigious regatta, will be decided by 31 August 2020.

The possibility of the event taking place as scheduled is becoming slim due to the pandemic COVID-19. The organisers have set a deadline of 31 August 2020 to decide on going ahead or cancelling the event.

In a letter addressed to the participants of the regatta, Leatrice Oatley, the chairperson of the competition said, “Our primary concern is the safety and health of the participants, the Club members and staff, Bermudians as a whole, and of course we defer to the Bermuda Government and their health experts to help frame those standards and protocols.”

Speaking about the deadline, he added, “We have decided that 31 August will be our BGC ‘Go/No-Go’ date to make a decision based on the COVID criteria.”

Originally scheduled in May, the Agro group-supported Gold Cup was all set to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the regatta. A grand event was in the works, with a shimmering line-up of world sailing champions, past champions of the event, and the world’s top-ranked skippers hitting the Hamilton Harbour, to make this an event worth remembering.

However, fate had a different plan. As the Novel Corona Virus hit the western hemisphere, the authorities had to enforce the standard preventive measures, wiping out every chance of this gala event from taking place.

As the situation is slightly easing out and the efforts to contain the spread of infection is showing results, Bermuda has moved to Phase 1 of reopening. If everything falls in place, the sailing buffs can expect good news. The organisers are eyeing to conduct this event in October this year.

Oatley said, “The Gold Cup has a history of surviving through hurricanes, but this is probably the most fluid and uncertain situation we’ve ever had to contend with.”

Regarding the re-organisation of the event in October, Oatley stated, “The coronavirus is unlike anything the world has ever seen and its effects are startling. We’re planning to hold the 70th Gold Cup in October, but there are a number of obstacles still to overcome. We certainly hope they’ll all be met and we’ll enjoy close racing come October.”

The possibility of the October plan depends heavily on the success of containment of the infection. Phase 1 grants permission only for limited activities. While Phase 2 allows expansion of business and services, Phase 3 denotes that the country is inching towards normalcy. Moving to phase 4 is very crucial because L.F. Wade International Airport will be allowed to resume its operations only in Phase 4.

Regarding the phases of reopening and its time frame, Oatley shared, “Given the time frame of each phase, we probably won’t know what travel will look like until late June.”

Keeping his hopes up, Oatley added, “So, although we’re still in a holding pattern, we are eager to welcome all to our beautiful Bermuda blue halo for the 70th Gold Cup in October.”

Italy Sailing Sports

Swan Cup to be held in September

The 2020 edition of the biennial Rolex Swan Cup is slated for 7-13 September in Porto Cervo, Sardinia. Organised by Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, the regatta aims to promote sailing and to bring together those who love water sports and the sea. Over 60 yachts will compete under the theme ‘Celebration of the Sea’ in the 21st edition of the race that lasts for a week. The event marks the re-kindling of the competing spirit after months-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 global crisis. The event is upheld as an opportunity to mark the watershed after the pandemic crisis and the imposed time apart.

Spanning across seven classes selected from the classic and modern eras in the history of the boat brand Nautor’s Swan, this race is one of the biggest sailing events set to happen this year. This is the second regatta of the Mediterranean season 2020. The seven classes competing in the race are the Swan Maxi Class (vessels that are 60 feet and above), Swan Grand Prix Class (vessels under 60 feet), the vessels belonging to the Swan One Design Classes (ClubSwan 36 class, ClubSwan 42 class, Swan 45 class and ClubSwan 50 class) and the Sparkman & Stephens Class.

For the health and safety of the participants, the organisers will ensure that all the guidelines laid by the Italian government are met. Week-long post-race activities harmonising with the race theme ‘Celebration of the Sea’ are planned to engage the sailors.

“The Rolex Swan Cup will be one of the first sailing events after a season of enforced rest and we are amazed by the response we’ve already had in terms of participation,” said Nautor Group Vice President, Enrico Chieffi.

“More than 60 yachts have already registered, confirming that our owners are thrilled to participate in the regatta and they can’t wait to start racing again all together in Sardinia, celebrating their love for the sea, the sport of sailing and our brand.”

The race will feature the brand’s newest models in the competition. This includes the revived version of the evergreen classic Swan 54 class, as well as the yachts from the bluewater range including Swan 48, Swan 65 and Swan 78. What excites the participants and spectators is the chance to see one-design foiler — the ClubSwan 36 class — the award-winning class that bagged the Innovation Award in the ‘European Yacht of the Year Awards 2020’. The yacht is admired as the radical one-design sports boat.

The event will also feature the new Maxi Swan 98 in the water for the first time.

“Nautor’s Swan is excited to introduce the new era of Maxi Swan with the Swan 98 to the world next September,” Giovanni Pomati, Group CEO shared in one of the articles published by the brand.

“She is a modern masterpiece of design and construction, the perfect blend of performance, elegance and luxury. She is destined to become a timeless superyacht.”

Destinations Sailing Sports USA

Rolex Big Boat Series cancelled

Yet another bad news for the sailing enthusiasts, the Rolex Big Boat Series 2020 which was slated for 17-20 September has been called off. This annual regatta is hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club, California. The competition was structured in two divisions, the one-design division for ORR boats that are larger than 30 feet, and a classics division comprising boats constructed before 1955 and have a minimum length of 48 feet.

Ken Glidewell, Commodore, St. Francis Yacht Club said, “These are difficult times, and this was a difficult decision, but as a socially responsible member of both our local community and the greater sailing community, it was the right decision for St. Francis Yacht Club and all involved.”

“Up until the final decision was made, we were fully vested in planning to safely race in 2020,” Susan Ruhne, Chair of Rolex Big Boat Series mentioned in a press release.

“We were encouraged by the 51 skippers who had registered to compete, and we had plans in place to mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19. We weren’t giving up, but reality is not something we can avoid.”

The sailing buffs were also looking forward to the 30th anniversary of Express 37 Pacific Coast Championships. This, along with J/88 North American Championships, is also conducted jointly with the Big Boat Series. Ruhne says, “This would have been the 30th anniversary for the Express 37s, a class that’s been incredibly competitive on our racecourse. We’re sorry we won’t see them this year, but we look forward to next year.”

The Rolex Big Boat Series has been taking place every year since 1964, except once, when it was called off in 2001: when the World Trade Centre was attacked. It happened just two days before the Big Boat Race was scheduled to take place.

“The St. Francis Yacht Club and Rolex Big Boat Series have been around for a long time and we will be here well past the era of COVID-19. We can take a year off in the name of safety for our sailors, our members and our community,” Glidewell commented. “We look forward to seeing you in 2021.”

Sailors across the world are looking forward to the next series which is slated for 15-19 September 2021.

St. Francis Yacht Club and the Big Boat Race

Founded in 1927, the St. Francis Yacht Club has been actively hosting as many as 40 prominent national and international sailing regattas every year. The club is envied for having one of the best-managed race programmes in the country. No wonder the Boardroom Magazine named it the first club to become ‘Distinguished Emerald Club of the World’. The club has been nominated ‘Number One Yacht Club in the United States’ four times, every alternate year from 2012 to 2018.

The Big Boat Series is the most prestigious event hosted by the club. This yearly regatta features sailors from around the United States and is one of the most competitive regattas on the West Coast.

International Sailing Sports

Call for Nominations: 2020 General Election of World Sailing Board of Directors

The World Sailing General Election is due on 1 November 2020, and the election committee is now accepting nominations from the Member National Authorities (MNAs). The MNAs are the principal members and regulatory authority of World Sailing. The general election of the board is conducted every four years to elect the President and Vice-Presidents.

The candidates can now email the request for the Election Pack to the election committee. The MNAs can send their representatives to participate in the general election and to cast their vote to elect the President and seven Vice-Presidents. To be eligible for contesting in the election, the candidate should be supported by at least five nominations. The last date of accepting nominations is 6 September 2020.

The board mandates that the candidates should demonstrate a commitment to serve. Additionally, once selected, the candidate will not be able to participate in any championships conducted by US Sailing Committee. So the candidates should choose between representing an event and being ready for serving.

To ensure a fair election with equality and mutual respect, the Committee, in conjunction with the World Sailing Ethics Commission, has laid the rules that regulate the code of conduct. In their nominations, the candidates need to certify that they have complied with the election rules and will continue to do so.

According to the Committee, the election rules apply to the candidates and any other person under the World Sailing’s Constitution and Regulations’ jurisdiction. The word ‘Candidate’ refers to the person contesting the elections as well as any other body or person who supports the candidate with his or her knowledge. The rule mandates that the candidate should ensure that the promotional activities are carried out with moderation and dignity. Candidates may also submit a promotional video to promote their candidacy and the video will be uploaded to the World Sailing Website and their selected social media channels.

To be approved, the video should be submitted within the specified time and should comply with the specifications (format, length, etc.) laid down by the committee. Upon failing to adhere to the specifications, the committee could disapprove the video.

Proposal for virtual Annual Conference and General Assembly 2020

Amid the current pandemic crisis and the subsequent travel restrictions, the possibility of the event has been held in doubt. The MNAs were asked to vote on a special resolution that supported a virtual Annual Conference and General Assembly. Fifty-one votes were required for the resolution to pass. The resolution passed with a majority of 59 against nine.

Some MNAs have requested the committee to consider a middle ground, wherein the Annual Conference can be held in Abu Dhabi, and those who are able to travel can cast the vote there. Those unable to travel can be allowed to use electronic voting methods. However, the committee is yet to decide on this. The committee has set a deadline of August 2020 to decide on hosting the Annual Conference on 1 November 2020 in Abu Dhabi as scheduled.

Local Sailing Sports

Return to Glory: Sailor Victoria Chan Aims for Olympics

Chan has her eyes set on qualifying for the Olympics for the first time, despite last competing four years ago. 

The 2011 SEA Games sailing gold medallist made no promises about getting gold at this edition in the Philippines, but instead will use it as a testing bed for her Olympic dreams. 

The Asian leg of the Olympic qualifiers are in March.

“Definitely, in any competition that you represent Singapore, you want to do your best and bring glory for the nation,” she told The New Paper.

“But, for me, the Games are more like a stepping stone to the Olympics.

“I want to qualify for the Olympics, that’s the goal for me. So, this is a great event for me to see where I’m at in that regard.”

Her previous competition was the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore, where she clinched a silver in the individual Laser Radial event, the same category she will be competing in during this year’s SEA Games running from 30 November to 11 December. 

Then a chronic ligament injury in her left wrist swayed her to take a break from sailing and undergo surgery.

Post-surgery, she joined the People’s Association and is now a manager at the PAssion WaVe @ Marina Bay Lifeskills & Lifestyle Division.

Chan mentioned that the flexibility of her work schedule and missing the spirit of competition was what urged her to return to competitive sailing last June. 

The 29-year-old said, “My company has been supportive of my interest and this gave me more motivation to try out for the Games.

“I am able to put in at least 16 hours of training (a week) whilst still working. With their backing, I felt really supported in my pursuit to make a comeback.”

She also said she loved making her own decisions out at sea, where you are all alone and you have to persevere.

“You don’t hear your coaches out in the sea…even just coming back is satisfying and I want to focus on the process of improving.”

While Chan was out on her hiatus, her competitors were improving in leaps and bounds – something Chan is more than aware of. 

“I know I have to train hard because, while I was out of the sport, the others have been training and improving.

“Malaysia and Thailand have Olympians taking part, so it’s not going to be easy.

“But I want to see where I stand against the pack.”


This article first appeared on The New Paper.