For so many years Caribbean sailors spoke about one design
classes and the difficulty of achieving active sailing in those classes.
Increasingly the goals are being achieved. At the recently concluded Rolex and
BVI Spring regattas the IC24 class reflected the aspirations of many sailors as
these simple competitive boats provided the most intense and fair competition
that anybody could have hoped for. Sailing was extremely close and the quality
of sailing skills was high and getting higher every race. All participants were
aware that they were sailing in a class that made them better sailors and
produced more excitement for their time on the water.
Although the IC24 class has now been clearly established and
there are indications of more one design classes developing in the Caribbean, I
remain a little concerned that the positive developments that have taken place
Whilst the one design racing clearly is great for the sport,
it is more challenging for the media. The media has an easier task reporting
and elaborating on large and shiny yachts and is more often challenged by the
intricacies of skill development that are the achievements that can be found in
a one design class. The boats are generally all the same and the glamour that
is so easily found in the larger and more impressive yachts is lacking.
Sailing administrators in the Caribbean should focus on how
they can keep the fire alive in one design racing and how they can connect the
high level of competition that happens in these classes to the development of
sailing. They need also to show how the low costs of one design sailing can
lower the threshold to sailing and make the sport more accessible to Caribbean
people and create a better trade off between expenses and satisfaction. They
need to show that these classes remain exciting or else they have the chance of
quickly reverting to mildew growing equipment. They need to be reminded that in
places like Trinidad where a great fleet of SR Max 23 footers were purchased
with much initial excitement this equipment quickly became dormant due to a
range of reasons.
Most sailing events originated through the passion of
corinthian sailors. As the events have become important economic factors in the
island economies the drive has been partly taken over by economic interests.
These economic interests inevitably prefer large boats with large spending
power. Small one designs for Caribbean sailors may not match their priorities.
Hence the important role that lies ahead for yacht clubs and sailing
administrators in the region