Archive for » August 13th, 2013«

BBC promotes 'elitist' view of sailing, says Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

In a letter to Yachting World , Sir Robin said: “The start of the
Fastnet could not have been more spectacular or received more publicity all
over the world.

“However, there was one major exception – the national BBC news and sports
news. It was full of football, athletics and cricket, but unbelievably
ignored the start completely.

“This is a sad contrast with the smaller but similar lengths Sydney to Hobart
race, which dominates the Australian media each time it takes place.

“It’s a sad reflection on the attitudes of our publicly owned national
broadcaster that it can consistently refuse to provide coverage for one of
the largest and most successful sports in the country.

“Without the oxygen of publicity our young sailors battle to find the
sponsorship they need to compete at an international level.

“Come on BBC get that ridiculous elitist smear out of your thinking and
support our young athletes in the maritime field.

“We were, at one time, a maritime nation but it’s impossible to engender
interest in marine matters when our public broadcaster is so uninterested.”

Speaking on his local radio station – BBC Radio Solent – Sir Robin today said
sailing was open to everybody “whether a bricklayer or a Duke”.

He said that there had not been a single mention of Fastnet by national
broadcasters, adding: “We have got sea-blindness. It’s gone mad in this

“We have forgotten we are a maritime nation surrounded by water and sailing is
one of our most successful sports. Sailing is not elitist.

“If sailing was elitist, with some six or seven million people doing it, we
would be the wealthiest country in the world. It’s just nonsense.

“You look at people doing racing these days – you go for the best people.

“You don’t care if they’re a bricklayer or a Duke. You want the best guy on
your boat because you want to win races.

“Sailing is not an expensive sport. Look at the wages of the top footballer –
it’s almost obscene and pushes the ticket prices up for the fans.”

Sir Robin defended the accusation that sailing can be a difficult sport for
spectators to follow.

He said: “We have our rules but you can usually tell which boat is leading. There
are plenty of other sports that have complicated rules – more complicated
than sailing.

“I watch motor racing and after the first three laps I haven’t got a clue
who is where – it’s just like a bunch of angry wasps.”

He said TV companies would capture an “amazing sight” if they put cameras on
the boats.

Fellow sailor Sir Ben Ainslie – who won gold medals for Britain at the last
four Olympics – supported Sir Robin’s call for more TV coverage of the sport.

In an email, the 36-year-old said: “I agree totally with your stance. My
only comment would be that as a sport, we need to make substantial improvements
in both the format of racing and presentation.”

A spokesman for the BBC said: “BBC sport aims to offer coverage on a wide
range of sports, including maritime sports.

“Whilst we may not be able to provide in depth coverage of some events,
these are covered on a multi-platform level with regular updates and
features via the BBC Sport website.

Sir Robin, from Portsmouth, Hants, was the first man to perform a single-handed
non-stop circumnavigation of the globe, in 1968.

And in 2006 he became the oldest yachtsman to complete a round the world solo
voyage at the age of 67.

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