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World Sailing - Offshore Doubles Q&A with Matt Allen

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Offshore Doubles Q&A with Matt Allen
Offshore Doubles Q&A with Matt Allen

Matt Allen has raced in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 30 times, winning on three occasions.
He is currently the Vice-Chair of World Sailing's Oceanic and Offshore Committee and is one of the most respected names in offshore sailing.

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Allen provides some insight on how Offshore Doubles is growing and why offshore sailing is thriving:

You're on the front line of World Sailing's Oceanic and Offshore work as Vice-Chair of the Committee. Give some insight on the scope of the Committee's work?

The Oceanic and Offshore Committee at World Sailing brings together many of stake holders in the world of offshore sailing. The Committee assists in co-ordinating the calendar of events of all the major oceanic races such as the Vendée Globe and The Ocean Race.

We are the final approval body for safety regulations for offshore sailing. This is an extremely important role, especially as we review major incidents and as technology allows improvements to safety outcomes.

Bringing standardisation of measurement of a yacht for rating has been an important development. Much of our work in the last year has been focused on bringing mixed double handed sailing into the Olympic Games in 2024 and beyond.

What evidence is there to suggest that Double Handed offshore sailing is growing so fast?

Both global rating systems, namely ORC and IRC, have seen enormous interest and growth in their double handed certifications. Many of our races, including the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race here in Australia, have included double handed divisions into their races.

New boats are being designed and built and I see some very good yachts coming into this area over the next two years.

What is the current state of play of Double Handed sailing in Australia and New Zealand and how has it been growing in recent years?

The Melbourne to Osaka has been one of a few double handed races conducted in the past. Now many club races have a double handed division and the better-known races have double handed divisions added to them, including all the Category 2 races conducted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.

What can we expect from the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race this year with regards to double handed participation?

At this stage I understand that 25% of the entries are double handed. I think this percentage for the first year is underlying how popular this form of sailing might be in years to come.

Can One Design Double Handed Offshore classes race in the traditional handicap system events?

Both ORC and IRC have the option to run double handed ratings. We have seen the double handed divisions treated both separately and combined into the overall race results. I suspect this will create some more debate going forward.

Mixed Offshore will feature at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. What can we expect from that event?

To bring offshore sailing into the Olympics will be a sensational event for showcasing sailing as it will be the only event to go through the night-time over three days and two nights. It will be a live event in the natural environment, pushing people to the limit of sleep deprivation.

To bring an offshore race with a female and male onboard into the viewing public will transform interest in offshore sailing and create strong growth in our sport.

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