Big-Small World

REFLECTIONS ON SAILING IN A TIME OF UPHEAVAL

The sailing community is still ticking over; at least it is at Windpilot. As I wrote in an e-mail earlier today,

Dear Henri, crazy world indeed, the positive aspect however: once situation might improve, the cruising community will love sailing even more as its taking place far away from crowed places ashore – the best place to be nowadays.
As a result from too many unfortunate social conflicts during decades my beloved wife and I have decided many years ago to operate the windpilot business as family company without employees. At the time being a perfect decision to gain kind of independency. i.e. since we are living in walking distance to our factory: just on top of it. So the short answer to your question: no worry about Windpilot.
Take care, stay healthy and enjoy living, in case you may need me you will realize that I am almost always just a mouse click away from you.

Peter


Things (surprisingly, perhaps) are moving fast at Hamburg Airport. The freight rate I was just quoted – to Osaka in Japan – is only valid for 48 hours. Prices are changing that rapidly it’s bad for the blood pressure. The run on cargo has prompted airlines to start removing seats and lashing down palettes in what used to be first and business class – and yet the contrails that ordinarily criss-cross the sky over the city have all but disappeared. The non-stop travel we took for granted has been brutally interrupted and the giant silver birds cannot earn enough to pay the lease, never mind turn a profit. A slow-moving chain reaction has spread right across the continents.


The sailing world is holding its breath, waiting for the dramatic changes that must surely come. Production lines are shut down and the charter market has been shaken to its core, which in a great many cases is going to end up being the problem of the owners, who would usually rely on their charter income to finance their fleet. Exactly who is entitled to what will become an existential question in many cases; the lawyers and the courts will be busy for years… Our world, in short, is not going to carry on functioning in the way to which we have become accustomed. Holding rights is one thing, making them stick in a climate in which people suddenly attach much less importance to responsibilities outside their own immediate circle will be quite another. Will governments be on hand to help? They seem to have their own priorities – not least (and not for the first time), in several high-profile cases, building an alternative reality to shelter behind.


The well-oiled machine behind the sailing events calendar and the continuous drive to create enthusiasm and excitement around our sport through the media is going to have a hard time keeping the cogs turning as sponsors with other demands on their money (not least their own struggling employees, who are sure to set them straight on the order of priority if necessary) turn off the taps. People have other concerns at the moment and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if, with the sponsors’ need for ever more breath-taking speeds suspended, the pace of change at the more extreme end of our sport (foiling, in other words) slowed down a bit – with inevitable consequences for the people and businesses involved.


None of this of course has any real bearing on the international cruising community, which will return to the water with more enthusiasm than ever thanks to the sailor’s innate understanding that the freedom of the seas can be enjoyed just as well on the local bay as on passage far from anywhere.

I have long used the metaphor of the iceberg to characterise the bluewater community: the visible part protruding above the surface represents those who have already set sail, the invisible part below the waterline those legions of people who dream of one day doing the same as soon as the exit ramp from life’s hamster wheel comes within reach. The dream of freedom on the water burns as bright as ever – and our need for it has probably never been greater.

There are always reasons to be optimistic!
27.03.2020 

Peter Foerthmann

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