The US Sailing proposal is just sort of lame. There should be medals given for backroom politics, because there’s a massive brawl going on over all this around the world.
The winner is going to be Markus Schwendtner, who runs the kite mafia, and basically has control of enough votes to get whatever he wants. Though he had a party foul recently when he tried to file a Regulation 35 complaint against the Israeli Zvi Ziblat. The complaint was rejected by World Sailing. Seems Markus doesn’t care much at all about what used to be the basis for decision making in the sport, especially now that Napier has gotten the procedural rules changed so that the WS Staff can get pretty much whatever they want whenever they want, and he didn’t much like Zvi trying to get some common sense put in the equation. Markus may have fucked with the wrong guy when he fucked with Zvi, who drove tanks in the Israeli army. Andy Hunt is the face of the organization now, Kim Anderson is just window dressing, but Napier really runs the show.
Whatever everyone needs to understand is that the new Olympic format has just about zero to do with what is good for sailing, it’s only about making money for the IOC, then World Sailing, and then whoever can get their equipment made as the mandated equipment for a class. The Olympics is just a sports reality tv show, and the silly World Sailing World Cup of the World Championship Worlds is the thing World Sailing thinks they will make money on, though they just bleed red ink like a stuck pig on the bitch.
There’s a few very experienced Olympians who aren’t pleased about all these class changes, but no one at World Sailing gives even a tiny fuck what any sailor thinks. Santiago Lange had a very good analysis of the changes and costs associated with all the changes in the cat classes, and if the won’t listen to him they aren’t about to listen to a bunch of stuffed shirt blue blazer types at US Failing.
I can’t be bothered to go line by line in the US Sailing submission, but one of the highlights for me was their comparison of snowboarding to sailing, saying that snowboard helped skiing. No it didn’t. It helped ski areas sell more lift tickets to some degree, but the concept of what you see in the Olympics for snowboarding and what happens at a normal ski area are not remotely close to reality. How many ski areas have giant half pipes? How many ski areas allow people to just play boardercross? Same with all the aerial stuff in skiing. It is a tiny tiny subset of skiing.
There is nothing about kite foiling that is similar to snowboarding and facilities. Kiters have zero reason to hang out at any yacht club. Does anyone think that someone sitting on a couch somewhere watching kite foiling is just going to jump and say “hey, that shit is cool, I better start by going down to my community sailing center, sign up for lessons with some dork with a clip board and whistle telling me what I can and can’t do so I eventually get a really cool US Sailing certified daysailer license, and then one day maybe I can go to the kite surfing store and show them I am an actual certified sailor and I can just jump on a board and fly and do cool tricks”.
A core problem is that no one has clearly defined a goal, a goal that is achievable and beneficial. This lofty notion of “sailing on TV will help grow the sport” simply has not and will not work. If Larry Ellison spending literally 10’s of millions of dollars can’t draw an audience with big, audacious boats, what makes anyone think that Olympic sailing, while it competes with sports that already have a big tv following in every summer Olympics is going to move the needle one iota for participation across the board. It won’t.
Kite foiling in the Olympics and on tv will help the kite foiling industry. Period.
Nothing wrong with that, but please, let’s stop with these lofty, unachievable goals.
Here’s what I’d actually propose, presuming we only have 10 medals in sailing:
Kite foiling acrobatic men
Kite foiling acrobatic women
Kite foiling racing men
Kite foiling racing women
Board foiling acrobatic men
Board foiling acrobatic women
Board foiling racing men
Board foiling racing women
Moth foiling racing open
Nacra foiling racing mixed, but both sailors must alternate as drivers.
Only the Moth and Nacra are real boats that cost real money. Everything else is easy and cheap to move around, with low event production costs. If the goal is to sell speed on TV, then why not have everything be foiling? The feature events of course will be the acrobatic stuff.
Race courses would be much shorter than we have today, say something like 8-12 minute races, which should work for commercial breaks. After all, this is ALL about TV.
All starts downwind. Weather boat has right of way, this is so everyone always sails fast, no more luffing. We want to see speed don’t we?
Medal race is one race, winner take all. Only top four from qualifying get to sail in the medal race. 4th place will truly suck, and the agony of losing will make for great TV.
A fundamental problem in the sport is that all of the sport is regulated from the Olympics top down. It is utterly absurd that all of racing around the world has to conform to the massive rules and regulations that get promulgated because of the Olympics. What really should happen is that World Sailing can go run Olympic sailing, the MNA’s pick their Olympic teams, and then let the rest of the sport do whatever they want without oversight and regulation from World Sailing.
In the mean time, anyone who thinks they are sailing in the Olympics for love of country, I have some nice beachfront to sell you in Omaha.
It’s all about the money, stupid. – Peter Huston