Saturday, June 14, 2014

J/70 Danish Sailing League- A Game Changer!

Danish Sailing Association- Managing Director- Thomas Jacobsen (Rungsted, Denmark)- The Danish J/70 Sailing League is being hailed as a “game changer” for Denmark. So says Chief Sport Manager for the Danish Sailing Association— Thomas Jacobsen.  According to Thomas, “The Sailing League is a striking example of innovation. Pleasantly, the first event had lots of young sailors - they can learn a lot from league sailing.

In May and June, we hit the peak season of events and activities in the sport of sailing. For my part, it was clearly pointed out in the past weekend (30.5.-1.6.).

Friday, I worked with children with cancer in Middelfart. Saturday I was on the water at TORM's Grand Prix in Vallensbæk to follow the sailors. From Saturday late afternoon and throughout Sunday I went to the Sailing League event in Rungsted - both to witness the new initiative and to take part in the attempt to raise even more capital for the project.

Three days of sailing in very different scenarios - but still, in their own way, re-affirming activities. All of them are examples of how sailing can be used to push the limits on a personal level - whether it's about overcoming oneself or overcoming competitors during a race.

It is gratifying when new initiatives come into the sport of sailing.  Especially, when there are initiatives that stir up the way we do things- and thus boost new thoughts and ideas.

Right now, the Sailing League is the most striking example of innovation. I see the league as a formidable project for Danish sailing. Also, it’s an important evolution in relation to the talent and skills development for young sailors. I have had countless frustrations over the years, every time a young, talented sailor left sailing for whatever reason. Often, because he or she lacked something that was attractive and offered challenging racing.

It is a fact that we have a huge gap between the elite powerhouses and the next layer of sailors, many of which have lots of potential and desire to sail- but lacking a sailing format with the right sporting challenges.

I will not argue here that the Sailing League is the ultimate answer to our challenges. However, I note with great satisfaction that the Sailing League event in Rungsted was attended by quite a number of young sailors, many of which are among the biggest and best talents we have at the moment in Denmark.

I also note that some renegade young sailors were suddenly back in the sport because they now had a new, bold challenge. And most importantly, I saw how all sailors - without exception, I think - had a great experience they took home with them and talk about in their clubs.

I have sailed match-races now for more than 15 years.  It’s a discipline that resembles the sailing league on so many points. Every Tuesday I teach powerhouse sailors in the same discipline, and I also teach the local sailing league team at home in my own club in Middelfart.

What to recommend for the future of sailing in Denmark?

It is my BIGGEST recommendation for all to participate in the kind of sailing that the Sailing League has to offer. It's fun and easily accessible. And, it gives the sailors some skills (including tactics, cooperation and communication), there is enormous “value-add” there. In addition, it’s a great outlet for sailors with Olympic ambitions.

I am excited to follow the energy of Rungsted, and hope that momentum is compounded over the next Sailing League events this summer. If that happens, the Sailing League will be a major "game changer" for the Danish sailing!”   To read Thomas Jacobsen’s blog on sailing (in Danish).