Harken Derm

When crickets speak louder than words

Published on March 7th, 2019

The sport of sailing is rooted in recreation, yet there have been efforts to merge sport and sponsorship to deliver professional circuits and earnings for elite sailors. While it’s never been quite rodeo money, the opportunity to saddle up was a step further into professional sailing.

But the two most storied circuits appear to be teetering…

• Founded in 1999, the World Match Racing Tour had long been the world’s leading professional match racing series. With events staged around the globe, it had been the proving ground for those that aspired to compete in the America’s Cup, and the training ground for those that wanted to stay there.

But when the prize purses couldn’t keep pace with the daily rate in professional sailing, particularly when the individual events weren’t so good about paying out the prize money, and how the skills needed for the America’s Cup were being found elsewhere, the Tour began to stumble.

Recent Tour ownership has not helped, with the previous administration using the circuit to sell boats while the current owner has yet to communicate its 2019 plans. World Sailing long ago empowered the Tour to award the Match Racing World Championship title but now the honor is being diminished with the association. Both entities need to sh#t or get off the pot. http://wmrt.com/

• Launched in 2007, the Extreme Sailing Series transformed the world of professional inshore sailing. Beginning with the Extreme 40 catamaran, and since 2016 using the GC32 catamaran, this traveling international circuit instantly attracted some of the biggest names in the sport from the America’s Cup, Olympics, and offshore ocean racing scene.

Race courses alongside event villages launched the stadium sailing experience for these caged cats. This ‘made for television’ competition, broadcast free online, offered value for sponsors and spectators, with the confines of the venue delivering excitement just short of a demolition derby (though it had those moments too).

But the series was always more novelty than pathway, and with greener pastures elsewhere, participation has been falling. Team numbers impact interest which impacts income, and with a costly infrastructure going from event to event, the Series has yet to reveal how it will configure itself in 2019 to remain viable. Considering the 2018 schedule was underway in March, crickets speak louder than words. https://www.extremesailingseries.com/

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