Bringing Back the Fun on the Race Course

Published on May 2nd, 2013

By Glenn McCarthy
The sport of sailing is now a refined game designed to support the sailing events held every four years at the Olympics. From race management to the racing rules, this elite, winner take all, high pressure event has transformed the sport into a business, rather than recreation.

While the Olympics deserve to be a monumental event, the majority of the sport is meant to be fun. The more you have to work at it, investing time and money, the fun gets replaced by something else. I have seen too many people leave the sport when their recreation wasn’t fun anymore.

Having seen these developments in the 40 years I’ve been racing, having seen that some competitors have become enemies rather than friends, having seen that fun has taken a back seat, it was time to develop a second game. I wanted to lay the groundwork for a game not designed for the Olympics, but for Club Racing.

The Fun Rules of Sailing (FRS) uses the ISAF rules as the foundation, so new boaters can learn them as they develop their experience. It doesn’t take “learning a whole new game.” It provides a place for newcomers not to be as highly intimidated and providing competitor coaching to make them “better sooner”.

Breaking them down into intentions:
7 are to encourage Fun;
4 are to provide better Safety;
3 are to create Sportsmanship and Friend Building;
2 are to eliminate unnecessary Olympic rules;
1 is to limit the “Arms War”; and
1 is to Respect the short time sailors have to give to sailing.

At this point the FRS are now fully presented as a draft of ideas, feedback is needed and warranted. Soon I will assemble some judges to wordsmith, and re-organize so when numbered they more logically correlate with the RRS. Three fleets have let us know (unsolicited) that they are going to put it up to a vote to use these in 2013.

The whole premise is thus – with the sport numbers declining over the past 30 years, following the IOC/ISAF/US Sailing “game,” it is time to re-grow the numbers in the sport and try something else. This offers a different game, but not so different that it takes seminars or courses to learn. It is designed with additional participation in mind. It is time to turn around the 30 year downward trend.

Feel free to express your concerns, but remember to bring your solution to stop the decline and explain how your recommendations will grow participation in the sport. Here is the link to the rules, and use the CONTACT US tab to offer feedback. Thanks in advance.

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