Living in the Scuttlebutt World

Published on January 16th, 2023

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
When I stopped to say hi to a friend at the San Diego Yacht Club, he asked what I was complaining about today. The question caught me, partly because I am trying to be a more positive person, but I do tend to vent in the publication.

I received some grief for reporting how the J/105 Class had suspended a past champion, but I did not find an alternative. I am also not a fan of removing statures. History happens, for better or worse, and ignoring it seems worse.

With the SailGP league in Singapore, the 16-hour time difference allowed me to watch the racing with my morning coffee. I am still conflicted on whether I enjoy watching, but am amused at the league’s insistence that others are doing it.

Their race reports inevitably talk about its fan attendance while posting photos of crowds, yet the broadcast, aside from the event village, showed empty beaches and a sparse spectator fleet. Since the racing is only watchable by broadcast (I say that for football too), attendee interest has more to do with village perks than the competition.

Also alongside the race course was a massive field of commercial ships which are well-known producers of air pollution, water pollution, acoustic, and oil pollution. For a league eager to promote its environmental progress, the landscape was not in synch with the messaging.

My weekend also included watching the start of The Ocean Race, and for the next six months I will be clicking on the tracker several times a day. Nothing in my life has taught me about geography as much as race trackers, and I look forward to watching the race progress and learning about the world.

However, it is time to stop racing The Ocean Race boats around buoys for the start of the offshore legs and during the In-Port Races. That might have been a good idea with the Volvo 70s, but the IMOCAs are designed to go fast and straight. They are not set-up for turns, the teams are scared to break their boats, and the event should be too.

There weren’t any spectator boats, not that any could keep up with the IMOCAs at 30 knots, so this is just about extending the broadcast and keeping people in the event village. In other words, this is about money, and watching boats struggle to do what they aren’t meant to do, with teams focused on preserving the assets rather than competing, isn’t sport to me.

I guess my friend was right…

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