Many of you will remember that an ISAF Committee recommended keeping the multihull in the Olympics for 2012 right before that fateful vote that ditched the Tornado, forever labeling ISAF as a bunch of morons that couldn’t see around the next corner. And the truth is that the vote was a result of serious power-brokering and lobbying from stakeholders in the Star and Finn Classes (documented previously on this page), and the questionable decision making process from those that voted the Tornado out. But if there’s one thing that ISAF dislikes more than the sport’s icons being pissed at them, it’s being humiliated on a world stage, and the AC34 boat decision has finally put the dagger in that heart.
While ISAF’s Olympic Committee recommendations (see ‘fallen star‘ below) are, in our opinion, a step in the right direction, putting too much stock in those recommendations would be foolhardy; the ‘war machines’ haven’t even spooled up yet, and when they include some of the most influential people in sailing with fingers in every level of ISAF, the fat lady hasn’t even gotten to the stage.
Recommendations really need to be read in light of the directives that the IOC gave to ISAF in their consideration for the next Olympic classes, and hopefully the decision makers remember that. The important ones are:
- ISAF should expand the reach and appeal of sailing – to emerging nations and sailors, and to spectators and the media
- ISAF should reduce costs – for sailors and MNAs, for event organisers, for IOC and the media
- ISAF should build more consistency and continuity to our Olympic decisions, giving MNAs better return on their Olympic investment, and providing sailors a clear pathway for sailors from junior to youth to Olympic
- ISAF should focus Olympic strategy more on youth, and encourage adoption of more exciting (for athlete and spectator) events and equipment
While the Star is an extremely cool boat, there’s a strong argument that keelboats have no place at the Olympics at all. They don’t make a boat faster, cheaper, more accessible, or more athletic – quite the opposite, in fact. And it’s not like droop-hiking a Soling or Star or infinitely tweaking checkstays, forestay length, mast chocks, and so on resembles anything that millions of recreational sailors (and potential spectators) do.
So ditch the keelboats for both men and women. You want a dedicated women’s match racing event for the drama and spectating aspect? Fine – put it in a depowered dinghy or a cat. Not a brand new design with no worldwide fleets that is expensive and single-purpose. Wtf? Similarly, ditch the 470. It’s not a good boat and it does nothing for the competition. Skiffs are universally available now and sailing them well understood. Move along.
- Ditch the Laser, and keep the Finn. Too bad that you’re not big enough, slim – it’s Olympics, not grade school dodge ball where everyone has the right to compete.
- Keep the Radial for chicks.
- Add the Mach 2 or another foiling Moth candidate as a mixed-gender singlehander. Never mind that the Moth Class doesn’t want it – it would have to be a one-design anyway.
- Women’s skiff will be sweet. The 29er XX is a good candidate but let’s see what else the market has to offer.
- The 49er is still the freshest looking thing at the dance with awesome performance and now a nice update. Keep it, of course.
- Mixed-gender multihull with a weight limit (or required gender mix rule) that makes women a necessity. Any of the boats targeted at the youth market or mixed racing would work: The AHPC Viper, the Hobie 16 or Hobie Wildcat F-18, the Irish Spitfire; these are easy to transport, widely available, relatively inexpensive, and extremely fast and sexy boats.
- You have to have men and women’s boards – still the most understandable type of sailing to the vast boatless hordes around the world’s beaches and fabulously athletic (although air rowing looks stupid)
- Make it mixed, or not at all.
- Kiteboards need to be an exhibition class for one cycle so stakeholders can get consensus on the best way for them to compete in the Olympics, and organize the infighting and back-room dealing that’s evident in the current organizational wars over recognition for the sport. Is course racing better? Wave competitions? Aerials?
The ‘fallen star’ thread has turned out to be a great place to hash this out. Have your say here.