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Editorial Andrew Hurst Won’t lie down


The 2008 Vendée Globe broke all records, well, maybe not quite all. A record number of new builds (14), record number of starters (30)… but unfortunately not a record number of finishers (11). The next edition was smaller, compromised by the financial crisis adding to the challenge of pitching bigger campaign budgets to sponsors


disillusioned by the previous event’s high retirement rate. Sponsorship budgets in all sports remain well below pre-crash levels. The Volvo Race underwent a successful round of cost cutting that, bluntly, saved it from extinction. Regatta organisers have been trying to remember how they ever ran championships without large injections of cash... Elsewhere, at every level, including Formula One and Le Mans, motorsport is reverting to being a predominantly pay-driver activity (spot the parallel).


So from 2008 to date, Imoca 60 budgets have been creeping inexorably up while the total amount of sponsorship coming into sailing as a whole has gone down. It is logical to assume, therefore, that the Vendée Globe must be suffering.


Not a bit of it, the Vendée Globe is thriving again. In fact on paper, the entry for this year’s event is oversubscribed. There are 27 places on the pontoon in Les Sables and 31 skippers with their names down. Go figure, as Rod Davis would say.


And those race budgets really have escalated again. Jean Le Cam, one of the world’s best-regarded solo skippers managed to scrabble together the cash to buy a nine-year-old boat but he is now struggling to find an extra €2 million to race it. The beauty of the Vendée Globe, a skipper told me once, is that once you leave the dock you stop spending. Would it were still that simple. All race yachts have got much more expensive in the last few years as materials, sails and systems advance. The Imoca 60 is a complex beast and today costs five-six times as much as 10-12 years ago. The boats are faster, harder to sail and harder to build. That means man-hours. And the teams get bigger and bigger. So how does the Vendée Globe prosper, an event that costs more while the available funding shrinks?


opened in order to avoid biennial disappointment. Slots in the Mini Transat are also fought over, the Figaro Solitaire remains the magnetic draw for anyone who is serious about a shorthanded career. Pure ‘Corinthian’ events like the Transquadra are also regularly oversubscribed.


People are enjoying developing and testing a wider skill-set than is needed on a windward-leeward course. The satisfaction of coming through a gale at the front of the fleet, for reasons that you both predicted and fully comprehend. There’s that camaraderie too… plus the pleasure of the hot shower afterwards. To any serious offshore racer the Vendée is an event you respect. And clearly across Europe it remains an event with which tens of thousands of consumers and employees strongly identify. So an audience afloat, which is nice, and a very much bigger one ashore where the money comes from.


Everest is not just about climbing, Wimbledon is not solely about tennis. And the Vendée is about a great deal more than sailing. We still have our priorities about right.


Cut to the chase


Two reasons, one obvious one less so. Obvious is the acknowledged fact that adventure sells better than competition – and the Vendée Globe has both. This is the only sailing race left in the world in which the plaudits for ‘just’ finishing are both sincere and substantial.


The second reason is that in the great cycle of sailboat racing, we are in the midst of a resurgence in offshore racing. Wherever you look the classic races are booming again, as are the best domestic offshore circuits, none more so than the RORC’s busy programme in Northern Europe and also now in the Caribbean. The Fastnet race itself has turned into a battle of the keyboards, as skippers battle to enter within seconds of the flood gates being





At its peak the IOR delivered the best handicap racing seen in the modern era. But yes, the boats did get a bit weird along the way, though some faired out into half-decent IRC designs. Was this the worst... not sure. If you’ve got anything ‘better’ please send it in


There is so much to be said about today’s multiple rating conundrums – although it is now clear that a commitment to the Universal Measurement System is central to international consensus. Should we ever reach agreement on ‘the’ rule, however, the next battle will of course be over naming rights. We thought hard about this, and the answer is so obvious that after lunch we may go out and trademark it. The new system shall be known as the IORC. And all shall be happy.


CLARITY We have four technical handicap rules in existence – IRC, ORC, HPR and ORR – it’s


quite confusing – Geoff Stagg


Whoever wins this [1978 Star worlds] regatta will be the


best sailor in the world – Dennis Conner (Buddy Melges and Andreas Josenhans won with a day to spare)


HERE WE GO (AGAIN) The positive economic impact on Bermuda [of the AC] is estimated at


$250 million – Says who?


SPEAK FOR YOURSELF This is the most winnable America’s Cup ever – they


can all win – Jimmy Spithill, Oracle Team USA


Let’s change the name… what the hell


is a Corinthian? – Andy Dyer


That’s right, despite the organic fallout – people


too old – at least 300 oldie Finn sailors from 29 countries will be reliving their youth for another year on Lake Garda


– Andy Dennison, Finn Masters president


THE FASTEST SAILOR ON THE PLANET


I got the foils down, bore away and sheeted on… I sh*t myself


– Paul Larsen gets a new A-Class


she is – Larsen


OK... BUT YOU HAVE TO SMILE


Lively little thing that


Mercy killing! – naughty Sailing Anarchy reacts to the loss of seven wooden XOD one designs in a Cowes fire


Say what you will about Trump, he is a smart man with a deep understanding of what


stupid people want – Andy Borowitz


I don’t have a drug problem, I have a


police problem – Keef


Seahorse magazine and our associate raceboatsonlybrokerage site are both at: seahorsemagazine.com The editor is contactable by email at: andrew@seahorse.co.uk


SEAHORSE 7


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