Make racing great again

Published on January 27th, 2020

US Sailing Board member, offshore race veteran, and America’s Cup alumnus John Sangmeister is eager to make racing great again.

“Our beloved sport is struggling,” and called upon the sailing community to come together to help build a path for the next generation to experience the same joys we have had so that these sailors of tomorrow will not only become sailors for life but may help propel the USA to excel in the next Olympiad.

“It’s a critical time in our sport,” Sangmeister said. “Participation on every level is important.”

As entry chairman for 2020 Newport to Ensenada Race (N2E) being held over April 24-26, Sangmeister was eager for the 73rd edition to be a barometer of good times ahead.

The cost of the sport has outpaced inflation, he said, making it harder for new people to get in the game. So one way to combat that is to motivate the people who already have boats to use them. Citing 3500 boats in his hometown of Long Beach, CA, and while 300 of them race, only 30 or so enter the N2E…he wants to change this for 2020.

“Encourage friends to get on the water and race – bring your family too, and remember why we do this – N2E is a memorable, moving experience,” he said of the 125nm international course. “The race will be a great adventure, a wonderful tradition, but it’s also a deeply personal adventure for each participant.”

Whether beginner or veteran, Sangmeister said the race’s goal is to draw upon its extended long history to not only celebrate the record setters but to foster and rekindle the spirit of the Corinthian yachtsmen who really hold the key to the sport’s future and offer them a fun sailing opportunity.

“What we talk about a lot at our meetings is how to improve the competitor experience,” he said, “make the race fun for all.”

For example, to better divide the serious from the serene sailors, the 2020 race will open classes that use the ORR handicap system for the faster designs while the more ‘cruisy’ boats can flourish in the PHRF classes, making for closer racing for more boats, which means more fun.

And while not everyone wins a trophy, he finds going offshore to deliver a better social experience for its participants. “Real friendships occur when sailing offshore,” he said. “That does not happen in a buoy race.”

Source: NOSA, Scuttlebutt

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