It’ll be the Olympic Games’ longest and toughest endurance event when it makes its debut at Paris 2024 but will the Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat be a success for the sport of sailing?
Sports broadcaster and Olympic commentator Alec Wilkinson dedicates the latest episode of his podcast Sailing Uncovered to the thorny issues surrounding sailing’s newest Olympic event. He talks to the people responsible for its introduction and to a young sailor for whom the new event offers a second chance at Olympic glory.
Stan Honey – Volvo Ocean Race winner and chair of World Sailing’s Oceanic and Offshore committee – tells listeners he wishes he were young enough to take part, “This is personally a form of sailing that I think is absolutely fabulous, one of the most enriching parts of the sport.”
As the man who revolutionised TV sports coverage through TV graphics, Stan is also excited by what the Offshore Keelboat event offers the media, “I do think there are some real opportunities that you get with the long event. This is perfect for the online media distribution because there’s always something going on 24 hours a day.”
Head of Australian Sailing Matt Allen – talking as vice-chair of World Sailing’s Oceanic and Offshore committee – says “There’s a huge opportunity to bring a broader range of people into the sport. We think that about 50% of the 70 million people who sail in the world do so on keelboats so there was a lot of enthusiasm to introduce it.”
Never one to shy away from key questions Alec also asks his guests if this new event led to the axing of sailing’s oldest Olympic class, the Finn.
Briton Hannah Diamond whose recent experience on the Volvo Ocean Race has fired her up for an offshore campaign at Paris 2024, tells Alec she believes it’s a perfect opportunity for female sailors to shine, “You’re on your own a lot of the time so it can’t matter whether you’re male or female because you both have to be just as good as each other.”
Alec was pleased by the candid responses “It was great to hear why and how the decision was come to. As with all these things it was a long time in the making and we get a good insight into behind the scenes discussions.”
Sailing Uncovered – the Podcast is available on all great podcast platforms.