2008 was an exciting year for sailing. No it was. Really. It was an Olympic year, it was a year when large offshore races were run, and it was the year that rules and records were broken. It was also a wasted year. People who really should know better turned ‘the ultimate prize’ into a circus of petty schoolboy bickering and legal nonsense.
We’ve picked just a couple of hightlights out of many.
2008 was a year of records.
50 knots in a sailboat is no longer a dream. Even if you don’t think that a kiteboard or Wot-Rocket is a sailboat, then Hydroptere is. Forget 50 knots, Hydroptere has been reported at 60 knots, albeit briefly.
The new Volvo 70 boats, are also showing that distance is no object in the right conditions. Torben Grael and his crew aboard Ericsson 4 sailed over 600 miles in 24 hours this year.
But the most popular record this year, at least from our point of view, based on web traffic and mainstream coverage, was a record that wasn’t broken. Speedboat, renamed Virgin Money for the Transatlantic Record attempt, adorned every magazine cover. A spectacular piece of yacht racing technology in its own right, the story was made more appealing to real people by the involvement of adventurer entrepreneur Richard Branson and the crew of Team Origin.
Yacht Racing Goes Digital.
As technology advances, yacht racing is poised to do well from being able to deliver content from even the most far flung oceans. As well as beaming back audio and video, fans can compete in real time against the professionals from the relative comfort of their computer screen. Hundreds of thousands of people are playing the Volvo Ocean Race online game for the chance to win a car. Millions of people are watching videos via you-tube and a couple of sailors in the Vendee Globe are even using twitter.
While some see the 24 hour access to sailing as taking away some of the mystique, removing some of the awe associated with sailors dissapearing into the unknown, only to return months later having survived, a new generation of yacht racing enthusiast is getting involved.
2008 was the year that we launched www.yachtsponsorship.com and we have been overwhelmed by the response. Thanks to all our readers and we hope to see you all in 2009.