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20 March 2002, 11:07 am
Response to Paul Henderson|s Proposals on Future Olympic Equipment - Part 3
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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.
Neil Humphrey, Canada
Great call on all the Olympic Classes except one!!! Sadly, my vote is to loose the Finn as much as it has been a icon for single handed racing boats for a lot of the who's who in racing for over 50 years. Apologies to Paul Elvstrom, Paul Henderson, Jacques Rogge, Eddie Warden Owen, Richard Clarke, Larry Lemieux and many many more.

Ideally, a replacement for the Finn should be a double-handed non-trapeze and non-spinnaker GRP boat that is widely sailed through out the world. The boat should be one design and manufactured by a select group of licensed builders much in the same way that the other 5 boats in the one design non-technical/development group are. The boat should have a crew weight restriction and be crewed as a open class (think that means - all male or all women or co-ed)

The advantage of including a boat like this is much the same as the other 5 boats in the one design non-technical/development group. That is to make the boat (sport) economical and non-technical/development so new people can get a start at such a great and often misunderstood sport.

Stepjan Marinovic
I am very glad that we start moving forward at least on web.

For me most important initiative was from Mr. Elvstrom maybe 8 years ago in which he set up principles of new classes for Olympic.

Basically today only 49er is `right' class.

I am of opinion that all classes apart from 49er should be renewed.

We have new classes to compete, and way to balance physical differences between sizes and weight of people.

- formula/ board
- formula/ cat
- skiff/ single
- skiff/ double
- keel/`open' style boat, like French `5.7' for older persons

Total 10 medals as we double all class for men and ladies. We should have all new designs, apart of double skiff, as 29er for ladies, and 49er for man should be ok we should keep same hulls, and difference between man and ladies should be only in rigs.

In respect of coaches total limit should exist but in respect of weather and oceanographic data, only public information, free to all should be available to competition.

Giovanni Galeotti
Thank you for the opportunity to write on the subject. I'll start with some questions:

What does Olympic sailing want to achieve?
-Do we want to have widespread participation in Olympic class racing?
-Do we want to create an elite high profile, spectacular competition that promotes the "image" of sailing and therefore sailing itself, albeit indirectly?

The above questions represent a choice between two visions which logically lead to different solutions.

One of the major shortcomings of the governing bodies of sailing has been to give confusing and uncertain messages on the above issues. As a result major contradictions in the nature of the sport have emerged over the years.

Basically no one has clearly decided if sailing should be professional or amateur or if both, how to define the borders.

An example of contradictory aims - Low cost classes like the Laser are promoted BUT then extremely expensive regatta circuits like Eurolymp are encouraged. Qualifying criteria requiring full time commitment to sailing have crept into the sport. There is nothing more expensive than full time sailing in terms of lost income and career opportunities (worst yet these costs are not apparent to the economically unsophisticated youth who embarks on an Olympic campaign with no idea of what it will cost him/her in monetary terms).

Low cost suggestion - If we want to limit costs of Olympic sailing then the key is limiting overall costs, not just boat costs. This can be achieved by encouraging good old fashioned club racing and time proven fleet qualifying criteria. This system (which was the basis of most really strong class development-Laser, Star, Snipe) has the merit of reducing the cost of racing itself. Only top sailors need to bother with the expense of travelling to continental or world championships because only the top local sailors qualify. Mandatory travelling costs are kept to a minimum. Surprisingly this system, in my experience, also produces better sailors. This may be because they spend more time sailing and less time travelling.

High profile, greatest show on earth approach - If we really want to turn sailing into a professional, high profile, commercially viable sport, then we need to get used to the idea that we must invest in the medium as much as in the content. There's a long way to go before we can stage (and stage is the appropriate word) something like the Superbowl or a Formula 1 race. This approach would require spectacular, extremely challenging boats and venues (not necessarily expensive-see Robby Naish wave jumping in Hawaii).

My opinion - The low cost, amateur solution is the only realistic one in my books. We have neither the desire nor the in depth management know how to stage professional racing.

What this implies in boat selection - Boats have to be attractive to sail at a local level. This is true of the Laser, of the Dragon, of the Snipe, the Lightning. Boat purchasing price is not necessarily a crucial factor. What seems to be crucial is the fun factor for the less skilled. They need to at least enjoy the experience and preferably they should have a chance to do OK when they get a lucky break.

This broadens the appeal of the class and broadens the market for used boats. This favourably affects real costs.

Weight Classes - This is absolutely a great idea. It is particularly unhealthy to have to eat like a pig to be competitive. Therefore lighter is better (Sumo wrestlers and Star crews will object). The Star Class is moving in the right direction but why not reduce the weight further. Very few human beings need to weigh more than 90KG to be in top form.

Conclusion - If I were "the man up there", I would make it my top priority to encourage club and local fleet racing. This is the amateur, broadly participated brand of sailing which historically has produced the greatest talents in the sport. I would use the Olympics as a catalyst for the promotion of this vision of sailing. I would choose and govern Olympic classes accordingly.

Kevin McCabe, USA
Bring back the Tempest class!! It was a boat that put physical challenges on people. It's an exciting boat to race in heavy air (in which most people would prefer to watch any sailboat race rather than light air) and is more or less standardized in Europe. The class controls the moulds, exotic materials are banned and it's a fun boat. The boats can be had base model for about $10,600 (no sails, no trailer). My two cents.

Linda Johnson
I don't often agree with Paul Henderson but I do agree with the "talent and not technology" route, but I cannot see that Formula is the answer for the Olympics.

Perhaps IMCO is not the answer although it is one design and completely fair.

I would broaden the statement on Lasers medals to also include the IMCO medals.

There are no advantages on IMCO kit. Every one is the same.

At the Youth Formula Worlds last year I saw a Youth turn up with 14 different masts, as many sails etc. This is undoubtedly cheque book sailing and he was racing against other youths who had only 1 mast. There must be equality in kit for talent to prevail. If it becomes Formula for 2008 then I sincerely hope that it will become a strict one design (although in my opinion it will probably kill the class) as it is today.

I also think there are too many keelboats in the Olympics. Nobody I know sails a Star unless they are doing an Olympic campaign, and the same applies to Finns.

Perhaps the answer is to have two classes in the windsurfing. One with a dagger board and another without. Certainly the 2000 Olympics would have been a non-event for the windsurfing if it had been Formula because of the higher wind needed. Some of the races in Sydney were run in 5-6 knots and formula would not be able to compete in that wind speed.

After attending the ISAF meeting in Edinburgh I was surprised at the lobbying and the personality clashes that seemed to cloud people's opinion. For sailing's sake put all that aside and let's move sailing forward but please keep to one design in all classes.

Adam Barboza, Bermuda (Member of Bermuda's former Soling campaign)
I write to you with regards to Mr. Henderson's statements concerning Olympic equipment for future Games. As a one-design keel boat sailor (International Etchells and soling), I cannot fathom how this type of equipment can be excluded from such an important event. By removing the Soling from the Olympics, you have in fact denied the opportunity to compete at the Olympic level for a number of helmsmen and crews who are not suitable (do to size, age, etc) for other classes. You have also eliminated the skill of keelboat racing, with a spinnaker, for men. Given that the Star is a very demanding discipline, it still lacks the spinnaker factor, which is at the root of our sport.

I think that it is commendable that a women's keel boat has been included in the Games, but this has been done at the expensive of the Soling class (which used to be open), and thus you have eliminated the `art' of match racing. Since the Olympics has become a spectator driven event, there can be little argument that match racing provides the best avenue to achieve this goal. Yet it is in the wisdom of the ISAF to remove this discipline altogether.

Coming from a small island, it is a shame that there are no more opportunities to compete in the spinnaker keelboat and in match racing with the Olympics as a goal. We already have an excellent Star boat campaign on the island, and hopefully we will see a return of the spinnaker keelboat and another small nation competitor at the Olympics.

Paul Roach
All those Olymoic proposals - talent over technology, etc. -have my vote. They are in keeping with Olympic ideals, & surely better for the sport in that it provides a regatta where genuine talent can shine regardless of strength of financial backing. Therefore the Olympics becomes a favoured hunting ground for talent scouts, further increasing prestige & importance of the regatta & therefore Olympics generally. Everyone wins.

Robin Endersbee, Australia

I applaud Paul Henderson's sentiment. The Olympic sailing classes should meet some reasonable expectations of the nations and of the potential competitors.

Inclusiveness - The classes chosen should support the original tenants of the Olympics of amateurism and inclusiveness.

The cost of entry should be kept minimal, and this should really mean affordable by the middle classes of all nations [smaller & lighter and with it less materials & less gear].

The classes should have wide usage outside of elite competitive sailing [if a class raison d'être is the Olympics then it is expensive].

The classes should be manufacturable by all nations using freely available and inexpensive materials and methods [maybe we should re-introduce stitch and glue classes]

Targeted skills testing - The value of a selected class should be that it selects out specific and worthwhile skills.

The physical attributes of strength, agility and speed are reasonable to be tested in some but not all classes.

Weight is not a worthwhile skill and if a selected class is weight specific then it should be raced in weight ranges.
The boat handling skills should not be too idiosyncratic to the class.

Financial means and technological support should not be the skills tested.

Where to - The sailing skills that the Olympics are to test should be defined and meet the expectations of the world wide sailing community [battle of the technomonkeyships, tactical sailing or various combinations].

The classes selected should each test different sets of those skills and each meet the constraint of inclusiveness.

New designs maybe required - The designs may be commissioned with the intent of dispersing formulae, designs, hull moulds and dyes etc to each nation at nominal cost.

Current choices
- A sailboard to be raced in weight ranges [or with weight adjusted sail areas] e.g. Mistral
- A single handed dinghy to be raced in weight ranges [or with weight adjusted sail areas] e.g. Laser
- A double handed 3 sail dinghy tolerant of a wide range of weight and physical prowess e.g. something between a Mirror and a 69er
- A single handed trapeze dinghy e.g. Contender
- A double handed 3 sail trapeze dinghy e.g. 470 or 49er
- A single handed catamaran e.g. Hobie 16 or Paper Tiger
- A double handed 3 sail trapeze catamaran e.g. Tornado with spinnaker
- A triple handed keelboat of modest dimensions e.g. J24

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

Contributors as detailed/ISAF Secretariat
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