Inclusiveness By Design
Published on November 26th, 2018
by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
I see how our sport changes, with new ideas that seek to improve sailing so often increasing the cost and complexity too. And once we all have spent the money for the same gear, are we better off, or have we just lost the people who sought not to continue the climb?
You had to have witnessed the early days of windsurfing to see the outcome of such a process. What began as a new idea that lent itself well to lakes, bays, and oceans, soon was transformed into an extreme sport best expressed in high winds and waves. The changes best served the advanced sailors to the demise of a much larger sector.
Kiteboarding could be on a similar path. When it was briefly included in the Sailing program for the Rio 2016 Olympics, it saw massive growth and interest. But this was early in its evolution, and when removed from the 2016 program, its design development soon included foiling boards. With kiteboarding now planned for the 2024 Games, I suspect the growth in participation will be significantly slower due to the increased expertise now required.
Foiling continues to pervade sailing craft, delivering remarkable performance and a heightened experience (pun intended). But with speed comes specialized gear and skill, and with an occasional crash, this segment has limited growth. But that doesn’t stop people from saying ‘foiling is the future’, which reminds me of the sentiment that disenchanted so many windsurfers years ago.
But we just can’t help ourselves.
The latest remarkable development is the TF10 foiling trimaran which made its debut at the 2018 Newport International Boat Show in Newport, RI. This high-flying 36-footer was locally conceived and fully delivered by Dutch-based DNA Performance Sailing.
By all accounts the TF10 is pretty cool, but I do cringe when Malcolm Gefter, who was instrumental in the project says, “If you are not foiling while sailing, you are not sailing in the modern world at the highest level.”
For me, it’s just not the slogan to grow sailing participation. These shiny new objects deliver immense satisfaction to a small sector of enthusiasts, and while I’m a fan of the evolution, and am appreciative of those that fund such initiatives, our sport thrives on its immense diversity. No reason to throw shade on that.