the new way?
In a recent report prepared for the ISAF Executive Committee, the ISAF Olympic Commission addresses a number of issues in order to strengthen sailing as an Olympic discipline. The basis for concern is the fact that sailing scores low on popularity and TV coverage, whereas the cost of production ranks among the highest of any Olympic sport.
Among the issues is the format of sailing itself. Besides decathlon in the track and field events, sailing is as far as I know the only discipline on the Olympic programme where there is no proper final, i.e. where the winner of the last event becomes the eventual champion.
A step in the right direction was made with the introduction of the medal race before the Olympic regatta in Qingdao, but in my opinion more radical measures need to be taken. Sailing will never reach high public figures before the race can start on time without general recalls and that the first boat to cross the finish line in the last race will be the same as the winner of the regatta.
The ISAF report addresses the issues of format in 3.27 and 5.52 of the report, now available on ISAF’s website, and suggests new formats including head to head competition between boats and various qualification systems should be considered.
One such format may be the following:
The entire fleet sails a qualifying regatta consisting of number of races, say 10 or 12, under the same scoring system as used today. The top six teams then have three races, the last boat in each being eliminated. The three remaining boats then race in a three boat final, where the winner of the regatta becomes the first to win two races. The silver and bronze medal winners will be determined by their finishing order of the last race.
In 1999 this format was introduced during the Lotus Cup for 49ers in Risør, Norway. Several of the worlds best teams participated, and it became sufficiently popular among the sailors to be followed up during a Scandinavian circuit for the class in 2002.
The racing was extremely tense, close and audience friendly. The format combines the best elements of fleet- and match racing to some extent and lends itself well to TV production supported by tracking and good graphics