Preserving history is part of our job

Published on October 3rd, 2019

What’s great about the internet is the ease to broadly share information, but what’s bad about it is the requirement to care for that information.

Websites aren’t like filing cabinets that you buy. They’re more like storage facilities that want your money, and when you stop paying, your stuff goes to the Storage Wars reality show (not really, it’s just gone).

Need an example? Long gone is what was stored at the event website for the 2013 Etchells World Championship:

Scuttlebutt Sailing News values the history of our sport, storing all our newsletters in the Scuttlebutt Archives. We pay for this storage, with now over 5400 issues, but we just can’t let go of what was topically funny for April Fools in 2002 (along with other stuff too).

However, to the credit of the Etchells Class, and many others, they have been stepping up their game to preserve history. The latest to join this trend is the International Six Metre Class Association (ISMA) which have launched an online class archive. Here’s their report:

The Six Metre Class has a long and illustrious history dating back to the introduction of the International Rule in 1907. That history encompasses inclusion in nine Olympic Games from 1908 to 1952, the heyday of the class in the 1920s and 30s when it was perhaps the largest and strongest class in the world, and acting as a trial platform for 12 Metre America’s Cup developments from the late 1950s until the late 1980s.

Even the very latest Six Metres continue to push the technical development envelope, and a review of Six Metre designs gives a fascinating insight into some of yacht racing’s most radical and important developments.

Recognizing that they are the custodians of, and therefore responsible for, a great deal of valuable yachting history, the ISMA members agreed to develop a project to help celebrate and improve access to their heritage.

Being an international class, the archive material documenting this rich history is spread all over the world and can be difficult to find. Some is also potentially vulnerable to becoming lost, damaged or forgotten.

In response to these concerns, work was begun at the beginning of 2018 to create the International Six Metre Online Archive. The class has now developed a brand-new website to gather together and digitally preserve these materials. aims to a) locate and digitize the existing archives, b) bring the material together as one resource, c) make it accessible online to all, and d) continue to update the archive long term to ensure it remains a current and viable resource.

Creating an accessible and comprehensive online archive requires significant financial investment and specialist technical expertise.
The new site has been funded entirely by generous donations from individuals and further donations are sought to help continue the work. Anyone interested in helping to fund the project should contact ISMA Executive Secretary Tim Russell on

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