Harken Derm

Forum Focuses on Pointy End of Sport

Published on November 29th, 2016

More than 280 of the brightest minds in sailing gathered November 28 and 29 for intense discussion and debate about the hot topics in sailing, at the eighth edition of the Yacht Racing Forum in Valetta, Malta.

A broad range of big topics generated heated debate, while expert panels explored commercial strategies for small and medium-sized events, affordable sailing on TV, and making the sport environmentally sustainable.

Doing some crystal-balling for the future of the sport was group that included America’s Cup winner Ed Baird, Volvo Ocean Race CEO Mark Turner and former Puma skipper Ken Read, along with World Sailing’s Alastair Fox and leading grand prix yacht designer Juan Kouyoumdjian.

The panel identified the late teens and young adults as the age group that need the most attention. Read commented: “There are yacht clubs buying their own boats, so that the tweeners get a chance to go sailing when life is at its most expensive, when they’re looking for jobs, starting families. We need to convince the yacht clubs to do more to make it fun for tweeners to go sailing.”

Read added: “When you come to the Yacht Racing Forum, it’s not enough to talk, we all have to go away and decide what it is we’re going to do to grow the sport.”

One of the big debates of day two took place in the Risk Management & Safety conference. Delegates explored the rapidly increasing speed of grand prix racing yachts and the recent developments in hydrofoiling, as well as the added risk that comes with that, the safety and insurance implications, and whether or not the sport is doing enough to address the risks.

Running parallel to the Business and Marketing Conference, the Design & Technology Symposium focused on the latest innovations including foiling, the integration of more composite materials in the design process, developments in superyachts and innovations in sail design and construction. The room was packed to overflowing as the moderator Dobbs Davis steered the discussion through some of the big issues in advanced yacht design.

“We explored a range of topics not just in design but also in materials, from everything to building boats and building sails, even software applications managing the overwhelming array of data collection tech available,” said Davis.

Event manager Bernard Schopfer is hopeful that the energy at the forum will positively translate to progress for the sport. “I think we have given people a lot of food for thought, and hopefully for ideas and actions that they can take away from Malta and implement in the wider world of sailing.”

The 2017 Yacht Racing Forum is planned for November 27 and 28 in Aarhus, Denmark.

Details: http://www.yachtracingforum.com

Source: MaxComm Communication

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