Sailing is indecipherable rubbish

Published on January 4th, 2020

Darren Kane

As an island nation, with America’s Cup and Olympic victories launching public parades, Sailing in Australia has still not won over Sports Columnist Darren Kane of The Sydney Morning Hobart. Here he shakes off the night before at his keyboard:


You can’t help but do a spot of wondering this time of year. Just last week I got to navel-gazing for a rude length of time about whether it was Friday or Saturday. These are matters which one MUST. NOT. STUFF. UP.

The correct answer was paramount. If it was Friday, I had a golf match of huge importance that afternoon. If it was Saturday, I had been fortunate enough to get tickets to an underground Cold Chisel concert that evening, so the morning would be consumed with grading my menagerie of black T-shirts.

Following a mini sausage roll washed down with a double shot of Red Bull, I settled on it being Friday. Though I wasn’t convinced until I spied the day’s edition of this newspaper at the servo. Such are life’s challenges.

Having successfully ascertained which day of the week it was, I got to doin’ some more wondering and thinking and stuff. I asked, rhetorically and in silence, why it is that competitive sailing is even a thing, let alone an Olympic discipline?

Could you harness a murder of the finest Oxbridge minds to conjure a sport more mind-numbingly dull? This whole Sydney to Hobart nonsense has got to stop (apologies to the skipper of one of the super mega-maxi big boats, who is a good friend of mine).

Not “stop” in that the boats should be somehow prevented from sailing – it’s a free world after all. But instead cease, in the sense that I can’t understand for the life of me why which boat gets to Hobart first is any more important than the results of last Friday’s golf match (I won. Thanks for asking).

Sailing … geez, nobody can even (be bothered to) understand what goes on during the race, or how the “handicapping” system works. Nobody has even heard of most of the boats (probably because they change their names, year on year), while one gets the impression that sailing is – how shall we put this delicately – the exclusive domain of a select few.

Sailing has been an Olympic sport since the inception of the Modern Games in 1896; and sailing events have featured in all bar a couple of renewals of the Games since. Australia does, it’d be fair to say, produce very good sailors. But honestly, have you ever sat down and watched five minutes of the wretched sport? Utter, indecipherable rubbish.

Then, by way of diametric contrast, I began to wonder thus: why on earth is darts not an Olympic sport? What is so magnificent about sailing which is absent from darts? As part of the Games, darts would be the blazing-hot show of Tokyo, whereas it’ll probably be so hot on the water that sailing’s starter gun fires sometime around the kebab-and-fighting hour of 3am. Full report.

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