By Roger McMillan
When we merged Australian Sailing and Australian Yachting in August of last year, I knew the combined magazine was never going to please everyone.
Even though all the key features of both publications have been retained and the total offering is a lot bigger and glossier, people do get comfortable with the “things” in their life and change is often met with disapproval.
So I wasn’t surprised to get a few angry emails, although I’m pleased to say they were heavily outnumbered by positive ones. But the majority of you stayed quiet, which means I don’t know what you think. And I’d like to find out, to make sure we’re on the right track.
This issue is the seventh of Australian Sailing + Yachting so for those who subscribe or who buy every issue from the local newsagent, there has been time to make a judgement.
You will find a reader survey inserted with the magazine, and I’d be most grateful if you would fill it out or go online to www.mysailing.com.au and do it electronically. It should only take you a few minutes and you could win $1,999 worth of B&G gear.
If enough of you fill out the survey, I’ll have a much better idea of what to deliver to you each month. If only a small number respond, we might get a biased sample which will lead us in the wrong direction.
Too many classes
This issue carries the first instalment of our annual Nationals review, where we bring you reports on all the off-the-beach classes. I always find them interesting reading, finding out which classes were close-fought and which had a totally dominant individual or crew, and it’s also fun to read through the names and see a few “sons of” or “daughters of” big names in our sport making their own mark.
However, there’s one overwhelming conclusion from the vast array of craft that are represented in these reviews: there are just too many different classes of boat sailed from our shores.
As one recent letter-to-the-editor pointed out, it would be a farce if your local football code had clubs playing to 100 different sets of rules, so that neighbouring clubs couldn’t ever compete against each other. Yet that’s effectively what we do in sailing.
The problem is, the governing body can’t tell a club to burn thousands of dollars worth of boats and make every club conform to a small range. Apart from anything else, it doesn’t really matter what you are sailing, so long as you are getting out on the water and having fun.
But I do despair when ISAF encourages the design of completely new classes when perfectly adequate ones already exist.
Last year they decided, rightly in my opinion, to add a women’s skiff to the Olympic program. But instead of immediately selecting a perfectly good boat like the 29er or RS800, both of which have thousands of hulls in use in countries all around the world, they encourage the building of entirely new designs.
If one of the new ones, say the RS900 or Rebel, is selected, the 29er and RS800 classes won’t die. Clubs and individuals are not going to throw out perfectly good boats that have cost thousands of dollars to acquire. We will simply have one more class, one more Nationals, one more Worlds... when and where will it ever end?
This was first published in Australian Sailing + Yachting March 2012.
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