Gladwell's Line: 2013 - A year to celebrate

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Oracle Team USA chases Emirates Team NZ - 2013 America’s Cup, San Francisco

Looking back on 2013, it will probably be unfairly judged, in sailing terms, on the America’s Cup result.

New Zealand can rightfully claim to the top sailing nation in the world.

Who else holds three World Championships in Olympic classes? Plus a win in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, and a win in the Louis Vuitton Cup?

Most countries would be struggling to field teams in all those events – which with the exception of the America’s Cup - required all-national crews.

Polly Powrie and Jo Aleh - 2013 Rolex ISAF World Sailor of the Year, Oman

And then to cap off a great year, Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie were awarded the ISAF Womens Sailor of the Year trophy.

That level of success seems to be lost on the general NZ sports media, who tend to downplay sailing’s achievements – or just focus on an America’s Cup result, and all the cliches that go with it.

They ignore the fact that in 2013, Sailing was New Zealand’s most successful Olympic sport, turning in better results than the higher funded Rowing and Cycling.

Jo Aleh/Polly Powrie (NZL) 2013 World 470 Womens Champions

For sure the sporting media’s self-satisfaction with a one point win, in the last Rugby World Cup, ignores that it could have easily gone the other way – and conveniently overlooks the fact that it came from the boot of the fifth Fly-Half, that the All Blacks used in that tournament. Prior to that effort, Stephen Donald was widely despised in rugby circles for some indifferent performances, including two Test losses from crucial missed kicks. But all his past was forgiven with one successful penalty. Nevertheless he still got on the plane out of New Zealand, as planned, soon afterwards.

It was same song second verse, in the 2013 America’s Cup – another event which required a tournament mentality and approach. Except unlike the Rugby World Cup, New Zealand lost by a single point. Are the two outcomes that much different, other than the obvious? Or did luck play a big part in both outcomes?

In short, both events could have gone either way.

Talking to various NZ sailing fans over the past week - reflecting as one does when the year draws to an end - it is clear many Kiwi fans are still in deep grief and bewilderment over the America’s Cup result.

Alex Maloney and Molly Meech practicing ahead of their win in the 2013 49erFX World Championships
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But that is not the way 2013 should be judged.

Rather, the year should be considered on the basis of what was achieved, rather than not.

Look at the results mentioned at the top of this editorial. They roll off the page very quickly, but are much more difficult to achieve. And certainly aren't found between the Weetbix and the Cornflakes in the supermaket, as some media would have you believe.

Add in some other very good performances, including European Championship wins, Silver medal wins in the 49er class, a third in the Nations Cup at the ISAF Youth Worlds and the list of Kiwi successes looks even better.

Other countries trumpet their successes, and rightfully so, but none reach New Zealand’s volume of achievement in 2013.

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke - 2013 49er and 49erFX Worlds, Marseilles, France

For the team at Sail-World, the year has been one of growth. According to Alexa rankings (www.alexa.com) Sail-World.com became the #1 sailing website in the world in February 2013, and has never been headed since.

We achieved a big readership jump off the back of the America’s Cup, and have managed to hold onto most of these new readers. Currently we have a unique readership that is about 120,000 PER MONTH more than 12 months ago.

As we have noted previously, the end of the 34th America’s Cup book-ended a two year cycle of coverage that began with the start of the Volvo Ocean Race back on November 5, 2011. No sooner had that event finished in July 2012, then the 2012 Olympics started in August 2012; during that time Emirates Team NZ started sailing their first AC72, and the 34th America’s Cup cycle ran its course of highs and lows, for another 12 months or so.

With the finish of the America’s Cup we had the opportunity to continue and complete a lot of upgrades to the operation of the site that had been deferred for maybe too long – but given the coverage commitments we had there was little choice but to tough it out and wait for the quieter weather.

Will Tiller- Red Bull Youth America’s Cup - Training August 16, 2013 - Kaenon Team

Next year we have more expansion planned. We are now able to have Sail-World read in more than 70 languages using a special sailing lexicon developed by Sail-World in conjunction with Google. It means that people in the non-English part of the world, can now read the latest sailing news in their language of choice.

In short it has been a big year for Sail-World, and next year will be bigger and better.

Marcus Hansen and Josh Porebski sail their 49er at Oceanbridge Sail Auckland 2013. Auckland, New Zealand, 2 February 2013. Photo: Gareth Cooke/Subzero


Emirates Team NZ sailing crew - 34th America’s Cup


For an international review we could do no better than that from Justin Chisholm of SailRacingMagazine

Click here to read their perspective

Emirates Team NZ, Leg 1, Race 1 34th America's Cup September 7, 2013