Whilst Olympic sailing has represented the pinnacle of the sport to many an aspiring sailor for many years, the nature of what the format, discipline, and composition of boat types that ought to be sailed going forward, has come under a lot of examination, discussion and argument in the last month. Primarily this relates to the change of equipment to is be used in the 2024 Paris Olympics, and the suitability of such for both male and female sailors, either sailing solo or as a mixed team. The basis of the changes suggested so far has, however, created a number of dilemmas as to not just the potential impact on the of classes that may be sailed at many sailing clubs in the future, but also to how the sport may attract new participants to it.
The whole debate makes me realise that access to sailing at the grass roots level, and for all abilities, will always be the important driver to the sports future, as well as to the sheer enjoyment of those early years of simply enjoying the feeling of sailing in the outdoors. Here at Barton Marine we recognise that, and we are pleased to support clubs where their activity does just that. One of those clubs, Largs SC in Scotland, is a busy and active club with youth racing and training programmes, which may well create the next sailors for the Olympics.
However, the appreciation of having the ability to sail can’t be ignored, as there are others to which sailing is a greater challenge. Closer to home in Kent, Barton Marine supports Wealden Sailability, a registered charity that welcomes everyone no matter what their disability. Operating at Chipstead Sailing Club, Wealden Sailability is organised and run entirely by volunteers, with the philosophy of encouraging new sailors to develop their sailing skills so that they may aim towards achieving personal goals, which may be simply to enjoy the freedom of being on the water, or to progress to taking full control and sailing solo, or even to learning to race.
So during the whole debate about the Olympics, we need to be mindful of those that are simply inspired and rewarded by their ability to participate whatever their age. And whilst the aim to achieve higher personal goals will always be there in individuals, as a collective we all need to remember the extent of the pathway it takes to assist others to get there. That is why at Barton Marine we are happy to be a participant in that process where we can.