Sailing needs to seek new ways, but not change old ways

Published on April 27th, 2014

by Mikkel Thommessen
A relay in the Laser class with two teams and four members on each team – two girls and two boys – was successfully organized during Oslo Boat Show in Norway on April 25.

The idea was to introduce a challenging new format easily accessible to the public, in an arena only 30 meters wide and 150 meters long, with emphasis on the sailors physics and techniques.

The result was spectacular: the regatta was extremely close fought between eight of the best Laser sailors in the country, among them, two ISAF junior World champions Tiril Bue and Line Flem Høst.

For the sailors it was a very fair and physically demanding exercise, and for the audience it was easy to understand what was going on, the fights were intense and dramatic with boats capsizing twice despite the near zero wind conditions. Unlimited body movements and touching of marks was allowed. The sailors loved it and the president of the Norwegian Sailing Federation, Tor Moinichen exclaimed after the race, “This could be a way to go.”

Is this what sailing needs in order to get revitalized and to seek new audiences?

The same way cross country ski sprint, parallel slalom and ski cross has revitalized and revolutionized skiing, sailing needs to seek new ways, not to replace traditional sailing, to add passion and excitement to the sport.

Stop compromising traditional sailing by pulling the course too close to the shore where the conditions never can be fair. Instead design a new discipline, far from traditional sailing, but where elements such as maneuverability, technique and stamina are favored. No wind required… it could even be sailed in indoor swimming pools.

Video produced by Axel Nissen-Lie.


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