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Yacht Racing Forum 2019 opens in Bilbao

by Keith Lovett 25 Nov 07:48 PST 25-26 November 2019
Yacht Racing Forum 2019 © Keith Lovett

The annual Yacht Racing Forum formally started this morning in Bilbao, with 365 attendees from all corners of the globe and significant support from the local Bizkaia Government in Northern Spain.

A keynote speech was made by legendary American professional sailor and technology developer Stan Honey, who shared his predictions for the sport kept the audience enthralled.

Looking at changes, Stan reminded delegates that in recent years in particular offshore records had reached a plateau. Whilst attempts continue, many records in the offshore sailing world weren't changing very often. As foiling boats now take to the oceans, Stan predicts that is all about to change. All of the major records will likely be broken and we will have a new normal.

In the same way that we have seen electronic umpiring come to play in so many sports, sailing is now expected to follow suit. Even for amateur club racing, cloud based umpiring may be with us sooner than we think. Hopefully this will ease entry to the sport as a whole.

No surprise that double-handed offshore racing is the fastest growing sector of the yacht racing fraternity, as it appears on a world wide scale. Stan predicts even more growth in this area, experiencing phenomenal growth on both sides of the Atlantic, whilst a continued decline in fully crewed campaigns is evident.

Dee Cafffari, Stewart Hosford, Group CEO of Origin Sports, and Rolf Beisswange, CCO of SailGP, among others led discussions centring on new models for sailing sponsorship. For those progressing to professional or semi-professional status, just racing a boat fast and winning races is no longer enough. Social media skills, audience recognition, and return on equity are all now equally as important.

The industry flagship conference continues over the next two days.

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