Single-handing will always exist, is it not time that this is recognised

Pete Goss on The Future Of Short-Handed Ocean Racing In The UK

Pete Goss

I fully support James Boyd’s call for single-handed sailing to be recognised by a body such as the RYA. It would be of undoubted benefit.

Whilst I can understand the issue of watch keeping, and only the RYA can work this one through for itself, I feel that there are mitigating circumstances which call for a fresh look at the issue. Many safety features that are now standard on any cruiser were developed as a result of single-handed pioneers working at the coal face. Indeed, whole concepts have been developed in single handing which will in time save many lives.

Every area of life needs an arena for development and due to the lack of restrictions this generally falls, and is unrecognised as such, to single handed sailing. By definition the competitors are some of the best sailors that we have in the country. They are not irresponsible and, truth be known, probably keep a better watch than many crewed yachts. Indeed, I sleep about four hours in every twenty four, race outside shipping lanes and make full use of the many modern aids that are available. Whilst I do not have statistics to hand I know of very few cases where a single hander has put other seafarers at risk.

As ambassadors for the sport I believe that single handers surpass themselves, particularly when placed beside many of our ‘professional sailors’. Not only does single handing strike a cord with non sailors, it also breeds a humility that is an example for all. This should be recognised and supported as we have great talent in this country. It was, after all, Britain that started single- handing. Ellen MacArthur should not be living in a Portacabin trying to pay off debts for her sterling efforts. She should be supported and given the chance of being the role model she is.

Single-handing will always exist, is it not time that this is recognised, supported and allowed to help promote sailing and the values that the sport stands for. There is no need for Britain to be a second class citizen in this huge growth area of the sport.

Yours faithfully, Pete Goss MB