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  1. #8
    In a way, I think this story is indicative of the times in which we live.

    The Olympics are seen as some sort of sporting pinnacle but it's also a massive commercial venture and so each sport is nowadays competing for the attention of a world wide audience.

    And that world wide audience has a short attention span.
    We can all watch a 100 metre race at the appointed time on TV, and we see the line up of competitors, hear the gun, and then there's a winner. We can mostly all relate to running too, so we are amazed by the speed of these athletes.

    But where does that leave sports like sailing? We have to wait for wind, then what happens is confusing for any audience. Half the racing is akin to watching paint dry, and few viewers can follow what happens on the race course – or over a series of races where the winner may emerge even before the last race has been held.
    And so they try everything to make the various sailing classes more visual and they change the race formats for the spectators, not the competitors. Endless meetings and discussions are held, with each of them dragging us sailors away from what we actually find fun.

    The Finn and Laser classes are simple enough, with the latter boat being one almost anyone might try. The Finn class is so outdated and inaccessible it should be in a museum. (The bath-tub Finn design dates back to 1948)
    From that first link, above, they are considering dropping some of the classes in favour of 'couple racing' in family-friendly 470s, and then they also want to seem modern by having hydrofoils attached to boats or other craft, even though that makes those craft so elitist and very unfriendly for newcomers to sailing.

    Windsurfing has long been seen as an annoyance, and has always needed wind – which is not usually available at chosen Olympic venues.
    The Olympics wants to sell sailing and other watersports as something that happens in force 5 or less.

    Kiting is perhaps still seen as 'trendy' amongst world sailing's fuddy-duddy bureaucrats. But you can see why they might prefer kiting over windsurfing (accessibility) and why adding a foil to kites might solve the Olympics' light wind problem, and allow some spectacle to occur even on light wind days – mostly for the TV audience.


    In the meantime, all the Olympic sailing classes are not really reflective of what we water users actually do. And it's one big fudge that's really about chasing funding.
    The RYA is very much in bed with world sailing and they too chase sports funding. Traditionally, we Brits do well in sailing at the Olympics, so ironically there is a lot of funding for watersports that most of us don't do.
    The other day I was also wondering if they should now have SUPs being paddled alongside the other rowing classes. And what about a foiled paddling class?
    Last edited by basher; 23rd April 2018 at 11:35 AM.
    Now back in the UK.

  2. #9
    Senior Member PK1111's Avatar
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    If the Olympics had ever really been about windsurfing, it would have been running Formula or Slalom events in a windy location.

    They never were, so I cant really say Im fussed.
    It always felt like Neil Pryde defending their monopoly supply agreement and as soon as they had that sewn up in kiting, they were happy to jump ship.

    Good luck to the kiters who I fear will find themselves forced into the same abomination of specialised event and equipment that windsurfing has been.

    Meanwhilr, back at the beach, its all good.

  3. #10
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    I struggle to care about Olympic windsurfing. I have very loosely followed it for nearly 30 years and it has been unrepresentative and outdated for all of that time. The lechner class being the classic example of equipment totally removed from windsurfing as a recreational sport – they have progressed since then but it does seem like a poor relative of the other sailing classes. It also has to fit with the format i.e. a dull course race in a light wind location chosen to suit the tv logistics without a thought for the sailing. As others have pointed out the same issues are evident throughout the sailing classes where the fin class is a tub that debuted in the 1952 games. There are sports that only exist in the form they do because of the Olympics and that is possibly the classic example.

    Will kites work – I don’t care.

  4. #11
    Senior Member TwoFish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PK1111 View Post
    Meanwhilr, back at the beach, its all good.
    Well yes, but surely we don't want anything that encourages even more stringy dangliness there?
    Last edited by TwoFish; 23rd April 2018 at 12:26 PM.
    Eeeh 'tis grim dahn Sarf.

  5. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by PK1111 View Post
    If the Olympics had ever really been about windsurfing, it would have been running Formula or Slalom events in a windy location.

    They never were, so I cant really say Im fussed.
    It always felt like Neil Pryde defending their monopoly supply agreement and as soon as they had that sewn up in kiting, they were happy to jump ship.

    Good luck to the kiters who I fear will find themselves forced into the same abomination of specialised event and equipment that windsurfing has been.

    Meanwhilr, back at the beach, its all good.
    It's simply impossible to run the windsurfing in a windy location. Cities bid for Games, and very few cities are in windy locations. If you have the windsurfing in a separate location you need to put in press facilities; security; athlete accommodation; coach accommodation; medical facilities, official's accommodation and all the other expensive facilities. If cities don't do that they will be pilloried in the press.

    Lots of other sports and disciplines want to get their perfect conditions and perfect venue. They don't get it. Lots of the road cyclists were pissed off with the London Olympics road cycling course, for example. Why should a small section of a small sport get special treatment?

    Secondly, slalom and Formula may get the most press but they are not the most popular competitive form of the sport. Years ago I did some research involving Int Windsurfing Association classes in which representatives of major nations were asked to give the number of competitors in each discipline. Slalom and Formula were well behind longboards and hybrids in reality, although not in terms of press coverage or hype.

    Windsurfer started in the Olympics in 1984, when "real" windsurfing was overwhelmingly about longboards (as proven by the sales figures provided in the old Boards print editions of the time) and therefore there was no reason that slalom would have been the event if it had "really" been about windsurfing.

    It's fun to complain about people and events, but the reality is more complex than you'd think from the venom people throw around. Is it really so hard to research and respect the reason these decisions are made, instead of throwing bile and contempt?

  6. #13
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    By the way, the available stats are pretty clear - if the sailing classes in the Games reflected recreational sailing as it's done in the English speaking nations (at least) then most of the medals would go to events sailed in 30-40 ft cruising yachts with no spinnakers and furling sails, and the "races" would be partly under motor and towing an inflatable. Another bunch of medals would go to 25-40 ft racing yachts, and then some to singlehanded dinghies. In most countries windsurfing appears to be such a small part of the sailing world that it wouldn't be in the Games at all, if the events were truly representative of what most sailors did.

    Of course, if the Olympics were truly about what water users do, they'd probably be more about cruising in powerboats and fishing than about sailing at all.....

  7. #14
    Senior Member TwoFish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C249 View Post
    Of course, if the Olympics were truly about what water users do, they'd probably be more about cruising in powerboats and fishing than about sailing at all.....
    Well since they've now included g*lf as an Olympic 'sport', I see no reason why they shouldn't also include fishing, gardening and going for a nice walk to a country pub as 'sports' too.
    Eeeh 'tis grim dahn Sarf.

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