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The tug-of-war over the proposed future classes and competition formats for sailing events at the Olympic Games has rapidly escalated into the realm of the ridiculous. Old-class loyalists rush to the trenches and launch instant attacks against any perceived threat to their survival. New-class enthusiasts proclaim that theirs is the one true path to the future of the sport. Nobody has stopped, taken a few paces back, and surveyed the battle ground from a realistic standpoint.

There is one obvious conclusion to draw from all this hyperventilation and hysteria: sailing as an Olympic sport is stuffed. If we are reduced to arguments about whether foiling kite boards are boats, or what the weight limits should be on mixed crews, then the Olympics have moved so far away from the experience of ordinary competitive sailing as to be meaningless. Sailing enjoyed the most respect as an Olympic sport when it was confined to a few distinct classes that were in popular use. Aberrations were swiftly expunged (for example, the Tempest).

Now, the aberrations are becoming the norm. Those with vested interests in the latest sailing fads fight each other for Olympic endorsement. It is an unedifying squabble that enhances the general view that sailing is an obscure and elitist sport with only tenuous connections to the Corinthian ideal.

Indeed, there are some strong arguments as to why sailing should be dropped from the roster of Olympic sports altogether. The venue is always miles away from the host city (sometimes even in another country); television coverage is haphazard and confusing; most of the competitors are already professionals using the Olympics as a springboard to more highly-paid yachting contracts; luck plays too large a part in determining the results.

In any case, we already have annual world championships in all of the classes either currently included in the Olympic program, or now being proposed. So why persist with a debased, superfluous regatta whose principal function seems to be to ensure that an army of international officials can have their once-every-four-years paid holiday and bask in the status of being part of the “Olympic Spirit”.

– Anarchist David.

 

csabi

May 16th, 2018

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