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18 March 2002, 04:29 pm
Response to Paul Henderson|s Proposals on Future Olympic Equipment - Part 2
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Olympic Equipment - What You Think

Last week ISAF President Paul Henderson published his proposals and thoughts on future Olympic Equipment. ISAF has received considerable response and we publish your feedback.
Luiz Schechter , Paraguay
A correct step was taken in the past when lower cost classes were included in the Olympics. It made our sport's higher level competitions affordable to more people in more countries and contributed to popularize sailing.

The remaining problem is that in order to be competitive in the lower budget classes, sailors are necessarily confined to a tight range of physical characteristics, in practice banning women, short people, tall people and older people from competitive racing.

The natural continuation of the successful policy of lowering the equipment's cost, is to provide for fair participation of a more varied mix of individuals in the same class.

A multihull is the only viable alternative. Multihulls perform better then monohulls of the same size or price, require less physical effort from the crew, individuals from a wider age range and any sex can compete with fair chances and, as Mr. Henderson said, provide for true sailing competition around the course.

It is clear that an inexpensive mixed or open multihull class is the best possible addition to the Olympic equipment.

Ernst Schliemann, Spain
Even if I may be known as one of the supporters of the Mistral One Design I can follow Paul Hendersons ideas of a new Formula Windsurfing Class after my experiences with MISTRAL equipment delivery and attending of buyers wishes within the last two years and all the problems of organizers of intenational events to receive boards and spareparts in time.

I agree with all those who are fearing that Formula Windsurfing may be very expensive - but in the last two years a big competition has started between the producers and lowered the prices very much. Theretoo MISTRAL has reached now an even higher pricelevel in its OD Boards than the cheapest Formula Boards

Also the organization of Formula has grown up very fast, a very well working raceorganization seems to be established in the meantime as I could see during the Midwinters in North America/Florida.

Also it came out very clearly that most of the kids and junior surfers are much more interested in Formula Boards than in the IMCO OD and only a very few are reaching the top events of MISTRAL as Continentals and World Championships. This too is mostly a problem of transporting the very long OD Boards in international flights - in most of all airplanes these boards are not accepted. Board less than 3 Meters long are much more easier to transport to events.

I think that the Formula have just to do one or two steps more to a smaller range of possible equipment to lower the costs and to come nearer to a One Design and it could be than the next Olympic Material. Sorry for the old One Design, but even Mistral itsself is promoting the new Prodigy and its Formula Boards very much now and not the old One Design, which has even not be shown at the 2002 Duesseldorf Boatshow. May be it is still to early to change in 2004 or 2008 to give all nations time to buildt up a new fleet , but the time of the Mistral OD has passed by.

Phil McGain
While I agree with most of your comments I will not admit to be an expert on [them]. I would like to address the concerns from the windsurfing community.

At the moment, Formula style racing has taken off around the world, and the International Formula Class is now full established and growing in each country through the MNA's. I just participated in a regatta in Florida where there was over 200 competitors, including juniors, youth, sport fleet, amateur's and pro's.

While I recognize the need for one design equipment to make competition fair, I also recognize the need for popularity worldwide. The current International Formula Class rules allow for a set of parameters to design the board, fin and sail. It also allows for slight variation in design and from multi-manufacturers, which for windsurfing is very good for all involved, competitors, public and manufacturers.

I believe windsurfing should be represented by the Formula Class which is known around the World today by all windsurfers.

Phil Stevenson, Australia
As someone who is 1.9m tall and 90kg I find a problem with most one design classes because they are designed or optimised for people who are smaller or lighter than me.

Basically one design boats are for one-design people, if you are outside the optimum dimensions you are out of the race.

In Australia the only Olympic class which has ever attracted enough of a following to get reasonable club racing is the Laser. This was once because all the classes were boring heavy northern hemisphere designs, but more recently it is probably due to the AYF funding of a few elite sailors, so that no one else can afford to make the pace.

Since my legs are too long for the stupid one design toe strap position on a Laser, I choose to get more excitement out of being uncompetitive sailing a Moth.

Back to the Henderson article, There really does not seem to be any change. Even if the IOC buy all of the boats for the regatta, all of the competitors will still need to buy one or two boats of the latest replica design and manufacture so that they can practice and compete in the right equipment.

As for the selection of boats why do Large Men have to sail an obsolete, boring, heavy tub which demands a very high pain threshold just to get it to windward? OK the Contender did not catch on and last years trials just generated another half dozen new classes. It must be time ISAF did something exciting for those who are genetically larger than average. How about a 15ft one design which looks and sails like a modern narrow skiff moth?

David Stumbles, Australia
I tend to agree with Paul Henderson's suggestions. I think we definitely need classes that are won by talent and not technology. I agree with his choices (although I know nothing about the sailboard classes). The Laser is an obvious choice. I also agree that we need to come up with something better than the Hobie 16. Yes it's popular, but I don't think a surf cat that has been adapted to course racing is the ideal choice. However, if there is no other suitable class with widespread appeal, then the Hobie 16 can certainly fill the role.

It's definitely time we had a second catamaran class. The Tornado is a fantastic boat, but it is just not representative of the boats people are sailing. Few people can afford them and they're not something you see having fleet racing at your local club.

However, if the Hobie 16 is considered outdated, then what can be said of the Star? Again, a two person keelboat without a spinnaker is not representative of keelboat racing. Perhaps the Etchells would be a better choice.

Anyway, Paul, keep up the great job of challenging the way we think and the way we do things. Your leadership will be missed in 2004.

Thomas Waller, Austria
In my opinion olympic classes should promote sailing at first. Classes which are too expensive or need more time like a fulltime job for optimizing technical parts, are not able to generate a better basis for the sailing sport, specially in smaller countries.

The Hobie 16 class is similar to the Laser class a simple and cheap boat. So it does not exclude poor countries or sailors who are not lucky to have parents who are millionaires.

In this class sailors from the age of 13 to 65 (as we see at the youth and masters Europeans) and male, female or mixed teams are able to sail without any disadvantages. The Hobie 16 would be also a great opportunity for the ISAF to find new members.

I think the best sailor should win the Olympic Regatta. This would be guaranteed by classes like Laser or Hobie.

Rick Hoop
With the Finn you're defeating the 'talent' because the rigs are so important. Why not all Lasers with weight classes [as in collegiate wrestling] for men and women and/or a 'super rig' for heavy weights. The same with a two person dinghy, possibly with adjustable racks to compensate for weight differences.

Also, for cats, sailboards, and keel boats a deal like Shumway Marine has with the Sailing Center at St. Petersburg, USA with Sonars. Builders provide the boats and a new fleet is born or the regatta boats are sold to individuals or clubs for training programs. Locking in classes with brand name one design boats [for 20 years?] would be the ultimate 'win - win' deal for the Olympics.

Wouter Hijink
Personally I would love to a second catamaran class be made Olympic (period). And one class is as good as the other

However, I want to underline that the situation between One-design and formula classes is widely misunderstood. More than once it has been expressed that equating One-design with inexpensive is not a law written in stone.

Aside from this it must not be forgotten that the general movement of the catamaran scene is towards formula classes.

These classes are very different from classes like the open W60's and these catamaran formula's are often made in such a way that it just doesn't pay to put a lot of money into the design of the boat.

The principle that ONLY one-design can guarantee a fair and level playing field has been consistently disproven by the A-cat class and more recently by the Formula 18 class.

Both these classes have wider competitive crewweight ranges than a One-design ever had.

I would therefore like to urge that the committee does carefully look at the catamaran formula's and consider its core principles before deciding.

Honestly, the differences between one-design and formula are often a lot smaller than is often clear at first glance.

Maty Frydman, Israel
I fully support the idea of one design racing.

As I was for many years a windsurfer that was racing around the world, and tried the new Formula concept, I fully agree that the Formula racing is the new direction of windsurfing racing in the world.

I am from Israel and I can tell you that the price of a Mistral one design is not more then a Formula board with one rig.

Any way I think that the idea to chose 1 manufacturer to supply the equipment for the Olympics is good, but it have to be at least 1 year before the games ,so all the races on this year will be on this same equipment.

Congratulation, for the progress.

João Bolina
I totally agree that the Olympics should be for `Talent not Technology'.

However today this is far from reality, if you take out the Laser and IMCO, the rest of the classes are just much more about gear them talent.

This leads to an increase in price of equipment and leads to a situation that good sailors are outclassed by gear and not talent. In some classes it doesn't matter how much you train, if you don't have the `right' gear you cannot compete, just look what happened in the Europe class.

This a global problem, in wealthy nations poor nations the problem is the same, as you say true one design are the best solution. Why are Laser sailors so visible in the America's Cup? because their win is based on their talent not on their equipment.

Future Olympic equipment should reward talent, `box' equipment like this one should be considered for future Olympic Games:

Dart 18
Formula Windsurf - One board (one brand) out of the box, not changes allowed for 4 years, one fin, 2 sail per year, not per event.

Laser Radial
Dart 18
Formula Windsurf - One board (one brand) out of the box, not changes allowed for 4 years, one fin, 2 sail per year, not per event.

For Coach boat, simple solution no coach boats allowed.
If we continue as now we will come to a point where
Olympic Classes do not exist in the countries they represent, and sailor in those countries only compete in international events.

Olympic Games should reward excellence, not money. Only with true one design equipment anyone who's the talent, train and is committed as a change of a gold medal.

To read the original article by ISAF President Paul Henderson and previous Feedback published, click on the links below.

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