Living in the Scuttlebutt World

Published on September 28th, 2023

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
As we close each newsletter with the Curmudgeon’s Observation, I was recently asked to clarify about Curmudgeonly traits. It was an awkward ask, as it is not a flattery term – a grump that is quick to criticize – which is closely connected with Scuttlebutt. But if you sit in my desk long enough, it gets hard to fend off the attributes.

For example, I got annoyed to see an announcement for the C Scow Class and its 2023 C-Worlds Regatta. World Sailing approval is required for any event that uses the word “World” in the title of the event to ensure the event is actually worldly, and this C Scow event most certainly is not. When I emailed the class about this issue, they did not reply. Maybe they will now.

Of course, not every event that has gained World Sailing approval is too worldly, such as the M32 Class which is holding its 2023 World Championship in Newport, RI. All but one team is from the USA. In 2021 and 2022, 7 of 11 teams were from the USA. Our sport is confusing enough, and it would nice for all world champions to have a better measure in common.

The cost to compete is a massive variable for participation, and offshore racing has done itself no favors with specialty sails that maximize a boat’s performance. When yacht designer Bruce Nelson shared a photo from onboard the 56-foot BadPak during the 2023 Transpac Race, the triple-headsail rig with strut pole was for tight reaching. Very cool, but also expensive and complicated.

While the IRC rating rule is not used for the Transpac Race, the rule in 2024 will count and rate the number of headsails carried aboard. As IRC is used for many of the prominent offshore races around the world, I am eager to see the impact of this action. A vote for sanity? I hope so.

This is a good time in the North Hemisphere for clubs and fleets to reflect on participation during the past year, and what can be done to encourage activity in 2024. Don Finkle provides suggestions, and while these have been said before, they need repeating. As counseled by Albert Einstein, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

As the SailGP sports league is long on hype, it was notable how they admitted their program to promote women was struggling due to funding. After two years, the girls are still only getting bare minimum opportunities, and either money or enlightened leadership is needed to move the needle. Standing by.

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