Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Event Cancellations

Phil Robertson's (RNZYS) WAKA Racing team with their cup and other prizes from their victory in match racing in Rimini, Italy, a few weeks' ago. Image courtesy WAKA Racing

by SailRaceWin

It is always sad when organisers have to cancel events for financial reasons. Whilst it may be considered a 'sign of the times', there are a lot of knock-ons from just one event falling by the wayside.

It is a huge let-down to the people who put in a lot of effort behind the scenes in order to stage an event, as well as the race officials, and where sponsors pull out the club's reputation is affected. However, the sailors themselves can often be the hardest hit.

Recently, New Zealand's young, up-and-coming, Waka Racing match racing team, led by Phil Robertson, who, as PanamaJack Racing won the Warren Jones regatta in Perth last year - a noted springboard event for match racers - travelled to Europe and won a qualifier event in Rimini, Italy. This gave them entry to a higher grade match race event in Rimini. The Grade 2 event for which they had qualified has now been cancelled - along with another event in Portugal for which they had a confirmed entry.

Waka Racing have done well so far this year, moving up from the 55th to 37th place in the latest match race rankings released this month. The team, composed of Phil Robertson, Garth Ellingham, Sam Bell and James Williamson, are graduates of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's Youth Training programme.

Cancellation of match racing events not only denies particularly young sailors a chance to practice more of their art and establish their reputations in the sport, but also means that they do not have the opportunity to earn valuable points to enhance their ranking level, and so move up the ISAF ladder.

There is also a financial knock-on, as event organisers usually provide accommodation for participants, so cancellation means that sailors away from home, such as Waka Racing who have trained hard and then travelled to the other end of the world to compete, have the additional cost of funding their own accommodation for the duration of what would have been the sailing event.

Let's hope that there are enough reputable sponsors left with an interest in sailing that no further events are cancelled for financial reasons this year, so that sailing still offers opportunities, especially for youth teams, to make their mark and grow into our sport.

Meanwhile, the Waka Racing boys are looking for other sailing ways of filling their unexpected couple of weeks off the match racing circuit...

Waka Racing

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