Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Georgiy Explains Why Brits Are Such Awesome Sailors



“The Australians, British and New Zealanders are island people. Communicating with the sea and sails is in their DNA. This is an entire culture passed down from generation to generation. Half of those countries’ populations are interested in sailing.” 

So says Georgiy Shaiduko, senior vice president of the Russian Yachting Federation, member of the Executive Committee of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and silver medalist in the Soling at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

I guess that's it then. The USA isn't an island. Canada isn't an island. Brazil isn't an island. Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands aren't islands.  All you nations that aren't islands might as well shut down your Olympic sailing campaigns now.

Georgiy says that sailing isn't in your DNA. You don't stand a chance.

We Brits, with some help from the Aussies and the Kiwis, will crush you every time.

Hmm. I wonder if Georgiy knows who is going to win the America's Cup?

And if sailing is in my DNA, why am I such a crap sailor?


24 comments:

Sam Chapin said...

Why? You are getting old! Now what about a regatta for old bloggers and let them fight it out for the big trophy?

Genie said...

He forgot to mention the Vegemite and Marmite for incredible energy. And Horlicks, the secret weapon for a good nights sleep!

Tillerman said...

But I have always been a crap sailor.

Tillerman said...

Ssshhhhh Genie. We don't want to give away all our secrets to the Russians.

laserista torpe said...

I wonder what is in Russian's DNA

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Skipper, have you considered emigration as your game-changer? (And I'm not asking you to go back to where you came from...)

Joe Rousé said...

Vodka!

Tillerman said...

I'm not sure what you mean Doc.

I'm a crap sailor because I emigrated to the US?

Or I would be a better sailor if I emigrated somewhere else?

If Georgiy is right I should be a better sailor than all my American friends because of my island DNA - or something?

Joe Rousé said...

...stupid statement on the part of Georgiy Shaiduko. I wonder if people from the Philippines (7,107 islands), Indonesia(17,000 islands), Japan (4 main islands), Malta, Sicily, the Antilles, and Oceania have cultural connection to the sea? Is it in their DNA? I think the Polynesians know a thing or two about sailing.

Tillerman said...

It is a bit over the top, but from a Russian perspective I think he's probably right to say that sailing is more part of the culture and more popular in GBR, AUS and NZL than it is in RUS.

Is it because those countries are islands? Maybe. But the UK (which I know best) has a very large network of inland sailing clubs on reservoirs and lakes and rivers - nothing to do directly with it being an island.

Keep Reaching said...

People may live on islands, but as the poet has pointed out:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.

Of course the poet ends that particular poem by reminding us that "the bell tolls for thee" so where does that leave us?

Tillerman said...

I am grasping for the words to discuss this issue. Clearly there is something special about how strong the culture of sailing is in GBR, AUS and NZL. But does it all derive from the populations all living relatively close to the sea? Is it related to sailing's place alongside other sports and outdoor pursuits? Does it come from better leadership and organization for the sport, and are they in themselves created by something more deep-seated in the culture? Does it come from Britain's history of seafaring and exploration, which in turn led to the settlement of colonists in AUS and NZL? Or is it just some weird historical accident with no obvious cause?

Keep Reaching said...

It is also quite interesting that the entire discussion leaves out one nation that is absolutely "fou" about sailing - France.

Where else in the world do thousands and thousands of people come out for the beginning of a sailing race?

Admittedly they are better known internationally for the long and often solo offshore races, but still the level of interest in sailing by the general public is quite high.

Tillerman said...

Great point KR. France is the perfect counter-example to Georgiy's theory. Some nations do have a stronger interest in sailing than others but it's not simply because they are islands. And as Joe point out above there are plenty of island nations that aren't particularly renowned for competitive international sailing as it exists today.

Joe Rousé said...

Competitive, I think that's the magic word. Brits, Aussies and Kiwis are extremely competitive, more so than Americans, who tend to like team sports over individual ones. I think having great sailing organizations is also somewhere in the mix.

Tillerman said...

You could be right Joe. Although there was a very strong culture in favor of team sports in English boys' schools when I was a boy. We were often reminded of the famous quote attributed to the Duke of Wellington, "The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton." Even if we weren't on the school team it was compulsory to go and cheer on the team on Saturday afternoons when the rugby or cricket team was playing at home.

Although I do hear tell these days of sailing lessons being offered as part of the sports curriculum at many schools in England.

Keep Reaching said...

Someone at Scuttlebutt must has read this post - in an article today there is a sentence:

"Ireland has the largest number of boats racing per capita, per mile of coastline, or any other way you measure it."

Tillerman said...

Then why isn't Ireland as dominant on the international racing scene as New Zealand - an island nation with a similar population?

kiwiyates said...

Ok - I'd better give my 2c as a Kiwi who now lives in the US. I think it has mostly to do with culture and attitude towards sport and the outdoors. "Down Under" doing something outside, just for fun, unstructured and unorganized is the norm. Therefore you get kid (and adults) out "playing" in the streets, on the water ans in "social" sports teams - even when they are old (like over 25). Here in the US, almost everything is organized and has so many rules and restrictions. As a 10yr old kid I would go down to the local beach and sail with my mates all day - no adult supervision (also no deaths or anybody being sued). As an adult, I continued to play soccer, touch rugby, sail, indoor cricket - not to win or achieve anything - just for FUN and to stay healthy and get out of the house. Here in the US you see very little, if any of that. So where am I going.... I don't know but it seems like doing stuff for the pure joy of it brings passion, desire, discipline and commitment - not to mention innovation... which these "Island" nations are known for. These nations are also known for getting the job done on a shoe-string - other countries seem to just throw money at a problem.
BTW - NZ coastline is probably bigger than Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England - so that calculation would be drastically effected. A long ramble I know........

Tillerman said...

Great points kiwiyates,

Anonymous said...

Island nations are more likely to have a sailing culture going back to fishing.

Large continental nations (like Russia) have a farming culture and therefore more likely to develop field sports! ;)

R

Tillerman said...

Could be R.

But England also gave the world soccer, rugby, field hockey, cricket and rounders (aka baseball) ;)

I do concede that Russia invented underwater wrestling, Moscow broomball and Russian pyramid.

Baydog said...

Don't forget dressing....

Tillerman said...

And roulette.

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