Talking about the future of sailing… we received this contribution by former ISAF President Paul Henderson about the discussion started by Jonas Hogh-Christensen and Jacopo Valentino. Enjoy the reading.

Paul Henderson. Photo Toronto Sun

Paul Henderson. Photo Toronto Sun

World Sailing must realize what is happening to our sport because they are allowing the International Olympic Committee to dictate
how our traditional participatory sport is competed in. I believe Sailing is the most participatory sport in the world, just
look at any body of water in the world. Even the emerging countries are building marinas, so make no excuses for Sailing.

Buddy Melges always said that: “The difference between the good sailors and the bad is that the good sailor
can get his head out of his own boat and take a look for the next shift in the wind.”

Bad News: Olympic Sailing must realize that we will never get much Olympic TV coverage as there are 28 sports in the
Olympics and 14 including Sailing get meager coverage. No matter what we do jumping on a new marketing concept
such as “Medal Races” or “Kite-Surfing” or some other marketing gurus idea NBC will still show Athletics, Gymnastics,
Aquatics, Football, Basketball etc  on TV and the 14 others will get minimal live coverage.

Good News: Sailing does fit into what the youth are doing today. TV is dying as the youth are spending much more
time on tablets or smart phones. Just watch any youth walking along the street today totally consumed by these devices.
They want short term instantaneous information.
Put transponders on the Finn or 49er (or keelboats hopefully to bring sailing back in the Paralympics) which are now
the size of a cell phone.I am sure some entrepreneur will put a transponder into a compass.
Even at the staid RCYC we have done this and show the regatta positions in races on Lake Ontario
Just look at the Volvo Ocean Race or America’s Cup or any other major regatta and that is the future.

Laser Medal Race London 2012 TV highlights... Editor’s note: Weymouth 2012 was an example of terrific sailing TV coverage, so, sometimes also TV is good but with today’s technology still expensive, though soon eventTV on the web will be possible in sailing as TV will fight with new media to survive.


Sponsors are now focusing on “Banner Advertising” which Sailing fits into.
If the Marathon is running or the finals of Olympics Basketball there is no way that the TV feed will shut that down for Sailing
but they could have a ribbon banner across the bottom sponsored by say Coca Cola showing the instantaneous mark by mark
roundings which is the only time your really know who is ahead in a Sailing Race.

Conclusion: World Sailing must positively go to the IOC and tell them that Sailing fits into the new ways of the youth of today.
It is especially true if the Olympic Regatta is run in the traditional way with our well developed International Classes and forget
all the new untried gimics to try and get Sailing onto the dying media giant TV which has prostituted our sport.

In fact Sailing should be in the forefront of the modern technology that the youth of today are dictating.
“Get World Sailing’s head out of their own boats and look at what is happening on every street corner today.”

Paul Henderson
P.S. In 1995, thanks to Bernie Stegmeier, I personally paid for ISAF to get on the Internet and thanks to Peter Harken found McCreary.
I am now 81 but think I am 18 and in my mind still racing against Buddy in the FD or Jacques Rogge in the Finn or Dingo in the Star.