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15 September 2004, 11:50 am
Olympics and No Throwout:
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The President Speaks

Sailing excellence is not like some other sports where The Olympic Games are at the top of the pyramid. Sailing is like the Himalayan Mountains with many dominant peaks such as the America's Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, Snipe, Farr 40 and Dragon Worlds etc.
No one event dominates the other and that is the challenge to ISAF to ensure they are all important.

The Olympic Games have become the "Greatest Show on Earth" and as such has become a media event and very nationalistic. It was a great compliment to Sailing that 20 different countries won medals in Athens. Significantly in the Star any one of the 17 national entries could have medalled.

The issue over no drop was caused by the problem of the general media arriving to cover the winning of the Gold Medal on the last day and finding the winner sitting on the shore eating peanuts because they had already won. My answer was to have two races a day with a drop but only one race on the last day and that had to be counted. It would change nothing but make Torben Grael compete in the last race so the media could see his victory and the TV focus on that accomplishment. It would also stop a last race Match Race where the only need is to drive the other sailor back to make the last race their drop.

The media pushed for No Drop which was put forward and caused a healthy debate. The greatest publicity for Sailing worldwide was when the Israeli Windsurfer won the first Gold Medal ever in any sport for Israel. The impact on the non-sailing media was intense as he won on the last leg of the last race. It would have been anti-climatical if he had been sitting on the shore.

The Medal Ceremony with the Greek winning Silver was a media frenzy and a proud promotion for sailing.

The flags on the sails, especially dramatically on the spinnakers, instead of bland white plus the large country codes and names of the sailors was another innovation of ISAF to help promote the sport even though several of the traditional classes did everything possible to stop it. Olympics are only a small part of Sailing and should be kept in perspective even though it maybe considered as the Everest or K2 of Sailing's Himalayan Mountains that only a few choose to scale.
Paul Henderson
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