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John Passant

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December 2011



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
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Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
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Stop the yachts

Boxing Day in Australia is the day of sales and sails. And the first day of the cricket at the MCG.

The test broadcast started half an hour early. This as to enable us to watch the beginning of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race at 1 pm during lunch at the cricket.

Overturning the 11 am traditional start time of the cricket for a yacht race.  Is nothing sacred?

As Marx and Engels so eloquently put it in The Communist Manifesto:

All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real condition of life and his relations with his kind.

That is what is happening in cricket as both the focus of power shifts to India and the commercialisation of the game makes tests compete with Twenty20 big bashes for our sporting dollar.

But this is not about cricket. It is about yachting, in particular maxi yachts.

The Sydney to Hobart yacht race has always been  a plaything of the rich. But it too, like cricket, has become more commercialised. Now the boats of the super rich carry advertisements for sponsors.

The supermaxi Wild Oats XI is the favourite to win line honours. Billionaire Bob Oatley owns it. He also owns Hamilton Island and the Wild Oats, Robert Oatley and Montrose wine labels.

As D D McNicoll put it in the Australian:

Having a new supermaxi designed and built today would cost up to $10 million then with over $1m a year to campaign the yacht and keep it competitive. Moving it around the world to contest the major long-distance ocean races would double annual costs.

Those costs make winning the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race the preserve of the rich and the race their plaything. 

Yachting is an exclusive sport. It is the polo of the sea. And as everyone seems to remark, watching sailing is like watching grass grow, or paint dry. 

Of course there are many less well off sailing enthusiasts. Indeed most of the members of sailing clubs own fairly cheap off the beach boats.  They are sailing, not yachting.

They are as divorced from the Sydney to Hobart as you and me. They are not in the race.

Imagine if we used the money the rich waste on this frivolous exercise to better health and education in Australia. Imagine remains merely a John Lennon song, unfortunately.

The Sydney to Hobart yacht race is a race for the billionaires and multi-millionaires, the one percent. These people lead a very different life to us. They don’t and won’t mix with the rest of us. They live in rich ghettos. They speak a different language of finance and investment and money. They even eat differently. We don’t want them here. It’s time to turn back the yachts.



Comment from Damien
Time December 27, 2011 at 1:55 pm

The focus of power shifting to India in the cricket is a welcome development.

Comment from John
Time December 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Yes, I agree Damien. But it is a bit like the focus shifting from the old empire to a new one.

Pingback from En Passant » Stop the yachts « The Left Hack
Time December 28, 2011 at 8:39 am

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