High Winds Force Race Committee To Abandon Racing Leaving Sailors On The Ground and Kiters In The Air
With the Mistral in full force today, At 1400 hours, the President of the Race Committee announced that today's races would be postponed to Friday, with a decision for the boardsailing events due to be made at 1600.
The Race Committee really hoped to get a few races underway, even though the Mistral (local north western wind) was blowing at more than 25 knots, reaching peaks of around 33-37 knots with 2 metre high waves. Tough day for sailors, but ideal conditions for "kite surfers", who have been out in force on Marseilles Bay. However, at 1600 hours the Race Committee also abandoned the races for the boardsailing events.
Being demonstrated at the ISAF World Sailing Games the « kite surf » machines look like some sort of UFO, when amongst a group of catamarans, dinghies or sailboards.
Six professional "kiters" are promoting their discipline of sailing with various shows taking place each day for the duration of the Games. On this particularly windy day, it is an incredible sight to see them jumping and doing turns, and have certainly impressed the sailors who were forced to remain on shore.
The real craze for this hybrid sport (between surfing and kite) is similar to the first years of windsurfing, back in the early seventies.
In order to introduce this discipline to the sailors here from around the world, but also by the larger population, ISAF together with the Federation Francaise de Voile (FFV) have chosen to organise regular displays. Pascal Maka, three times world speed record champion on the funboard, is the man to watch. As representative of the Federation Francaise de Voile, Pascal Maka's aim is to develop this new "extreme" sport, and says, "Our aim is to equip as many sailing clubs as possible". The whole kite kit, including 4 different wings (kites) and a board costs approximately EUR1500.
However, the professionals present here in Marseille insist on safety as an underlying necessity, and any potential "kiters" should learn at a professional sailing school with adequate equipment. Another "kiter" suggested that a permission or even a licence should be introduce for kiters, to ensure people know how to use it the equipment before venturing out on the water. Possible drowning, as well as serious difficulties to return to the beach are some of the risks which may be encountered by most beginners if they are not properly trained before going out by themselves.
But there is one thing for sure, it is really worth watching these amazing "kite-surfers". The kite-surfers message, "Do not ruin the material" - by which they are saying, know what you are doing before you go out on the water.
Security is the priority of the day and the Race Committee has postponed all today's races until tomorrow next day. But of course there is another concern, of preserving the equipment. "With such weather conditions (over 25 knots wind) and 2 metre high waves, not only must the boats be preserved (avoid breakage), but we also have to be sure the marks will remain in the same place." explains Race Committee Chairman Gilles Sabin (in charge of Course Area E for keelboats - male (J/80) and female (J/22). "Usually skippers are owners of their boats and assume responsibility for the material. For the World Sailing Games however the boats are supplied to the competitors and the keelboats re-allocated after each day's racing. It is therefore important that equipment damage is kept to a minimum."
To anticipate these types of problems, a change to the Sailing Instructions has been introduced, which allows the Race Committee to prohibit the use of spinnakers over a certain wind speed. "As Chairman of the Race Committee for the keel boats I will not allow the use of this sail over 18kts wind. If use of spinnakers is prohibited, at the same time the "Y" signal will be indicated meaning that every sailor must wear their life jacket".
Brand new boats for sale !
The manufacturers providing the equipment (boats) to the ISAF Word Sailing Games in Marseille are very careful with the boats, as they know they have to sell the boats after the Games.
In fact, almost all boats - dinghies as well as keel boats- have already found future owners purchasers, many event before the Games started. For the Hobie 16 and 470's, approximately half of the fleet is still for sale. The discounted price at which the equipment is being offered for sale is very good, as the boats are delivered with comprehensive equipment, a complete set of sails, a trailer etc…
For manufacturers, selling in the equipment at a discounted price, is considered as promotional : "the point is to provide boats for the image of the brand" explains Alberto Portiglia, in charge of the boat builders Nautivela, who have supplied the 470's. "Nautivela has just launched a brand new 470, which is what is being sailed here in Marseilles. Compared to the previous boat, we have changed the mould and the deck. The ISAF World Sailing Games offers a very good opportunity for sailors to test the new models prior to purchasing. However, for the builder we do not do so well financially, but we get to promote our boats."
The Laser and Hobie Cat manufacturers similarly agree on the promotional importance of this ISAF event and the fact that the selection of their equipment for an ISAF event is an excellent means by which to promote the boats on the international market.
All of them are ready to renew the experience for the next ISAF World Sailing Games in 2006.
The Sailors' Forum and party scheduled for tonight have been re-scheduled for Sunday 7 July 2002.
Programme for Friday 5 July
Godmother of the day : Claire Marty, sailor and representative of "Thalasanté".
Initially scheduled as a reserve day, this Friday will be used as a competition day.
First starts at 1100 hours.
Volunteer party 1800 hours.