In September 2021, RS Sailing and Oman Sail agreed to host the RS Venture Connect Worlds in November of the following year. Deciding where and when to host a sailing event is always a challenge, especially when considering distance and expense for participants, combined with the fact that Para Sailing represents the most niche category of sailor within the sport. At the time of the agreement, there was no guarantee that enough teams would sign up for the event to be run. However, both organisations believed that the Oman Sail venue in Mussanah would be accessible for international travel, providing a beautiful location for the participants to not just sail at but a place where those accompanying them can relax and unwind. Fast forward 12 months, and the event registration website says, “Due to capacity, the event entry is now closed.” From November 23rd to 27th, 36 teams representing 19 nations will come together to sail in the RS Venture Connect, a current World Sailing Paralympic sailboat class which features an award-winning ‘Seated Control System’ the benefit of both the helm and their crew.
RS Sailing are passionate about lowering barriers to participation while at the same time increasing the overall value for those participating. This ethos is embedded in the world-class RS events, and it is one of the many attributes that helps develop the international RS class activity.
So how exactly did RS and Oman Sail get 36 teams to sign up for this event?
- RS Sailing decided early on to provide six charter boats alongside Oman Sails’ existing fleet of six RS Venture Connects, used as part of the BP Oman sponsored SailFree National Para Sailing program. This removed the need for competitors to ship their own boats.
- The overall cost of the ‘Early Bird’ entry was heavily subsidised to increase value for participants and encourage entries; the entry fee includes airport transfers, use of charter boats and attendance at a pre-event coaching clinic. The RS Sailing international distribution network and personal relationships already established by RS dealers helped bring the event to the attention of Para Sailing organisations and individuals who would not have been motivated to attend had they seen the news through more generic channels.
- Subsidies towards travel costs and event entry fees for teams from ‘Emerging Nation’ competing in the event were made available by World Sailing through Koray Ezer, the newly appointed Director of International Development. This pledge immediately attracted a number of applications, with five teams chosen as the final beneficiaries.
- World Sailing agreed that their financial support would only focus on getting more teams to the event, so RS Sailing and Oman Sail decided to deliver a pre-event coaching clinic in the absence of World Sailing ‘Para Development Program’ event. The coaching program will be provided by a joint RS and Oman Sail coaching team, led by the RS Venture Connect class coach and former World Sailing Nominated Expert, Christoffel van Hees from the Netherlands.
- With a large online media presence and dedicated in-house marketing personnel, RS Sailing wanted to ensure that news and updates of the RS Venture Connect World Championship featured more relatable, interesting and engaging content for readers. Therefore, the RS Sailing marketing team reached out to every participant signed up to the event to find out about their background in sailing and why they chose to compete at the event. These stories continue to be added to the RS Sailing website and social media channels almost weekly in the run-up to the event.
- Based on the feedback received during the registration process, RS Sailing and Oman Sail in consultation with World Sailing appointed Technical Delegate, Adrian Stoggall, decided to extend the ‘Knock-Out’ series from three days to four. This maximises the number of days that teams will have on the water prior to the event finals.
Proposed schedule of the 2022 RS Venture Connect World Championship event:
|Day / Date:||Activity:|
|Sunday, November 20th||RS Venture Connect Class Coaching Clinic – Day 1|
|Monday, November 21st||RS Venture Connect Class Coaching Clinic – Day 2|
|Tuesday, November 22nd||Practice Racing
‘Discover Oman’ sight-seeing tour
|Wednesday, November 23rd||Round-robin racing series – Day 1|
|Thursday, November 24th||Round-robin racing series – Day 2|
|Friday, November 25th||Round-robin racing series – Day 3|
|Saturday, November 26th||Round-robin racing series – Day 4|
|Sunday, November 27th||FINALS
For more information on the event, including how you can keep up to date with all of the on and off-water action, visit the RS Venture Connect Facebook page.
If you wish to know what more you or a sailing program you are a part of can do to support the #BackTheBid Paralympic sailing re-inclusion campaign, visit the dedicated area of the World Sailing website to get involved.