Sunday, May 4, 2008

Olympic Class Windsrfing- chapter 5

Evey 4 years, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decides what sailing classes will be in for the next Olympics. Some classes like the Star boat have been an almost permanent fixture in the games. Other times, classes get updated to reflect the current state of sailing.
For example- the 49'er class was introduced as a new Olympic class in 1997 for the 2000 Olympics. It added a new vitality to the Games with in the introduction of a new modern exciting skiff sailing class.
The Olympic windsurfier has also been a class that has changed throughout the years. From 1984 when it was introduced as a discipline in the Olympics, the IOC has chosen to update the class 4 times with the development and evolution of the equipment. This refelcts the ever changing nature of the sport.
1984 Windglider (no harness!)
1998 Lechner D2
1992 Lechner D2
1996 IMCO
2000 IMCO
2004 IMCO
2008 RSX
2012 ??
The vote is up again for the 2012 Games and Starboard- one of the leading manufactures- has proposed a new concept for the Olympic class: the Formula One Design.
Making it's debuet as a class at the Formula Grand Prix in Portugal this May, it proposes the 2007 starboard 162, 11.0 standard rig for men and 9.5 fstandard rig or women, aluminum booms! and debocheit 70 cm fin.
All promised to be delivered through starboards network of dealers around the world for cheaper than the current rsx olympic. It's apeal is its planning board and no pumping.

I applaud starboard for pushing the idea of formula sailing for the Olympic class but what they are proposing is a one design which remains stagnant just like the RSX or even imco class.
In 4 or 8 years who will be wanting to sail a 162 and a 3 camed race sails?
(Who wants to sail a 3 cam race sail now when you have a 5 cam 11.8m2 rig than can plane up earlier!)
Formula works because it is an open development class- just like some of the other olympic classes where sailors can choose from various manufactures in their class.
Why not just push for formula (3 rigs, 3 fins)to be olympic rather than creating a one design fleet?
With one rig you automatically favor one weight. The beauty of formula is sailors from varying weights can compete against each other with different rig sizes
Technology is not limited- nor is the individual!
With a one design fleet you will be sailing equipment that is always second best compared to what else is out there.
Sure this may keep the cost down but the developing nature of windsurfer is such that it is always changing, evolving and developing. This is why the formula class has been such a success.
A home made fin maker from the backwoods of Virgina can futher the class with his innovation more so than a debocheit plant stamping out 5000 identical fins every year
Starboards statements supporting their bid refer to none of the international formula class races that have been canceled due to light wind. This is because the majority of sailors in light wind have and still use a 11.8. If they were on a starboard olympic 11.0 or 9.5 rig planning in 6k is very questionable for the majority of the fleet.
Dont call it formula if its not formula!
And 1 rig from 6-30k - thats more range than Ive ever seen.
Why not use at least 2 rig so light weights and heavyweights can be competitive.
and an aluminum boom?
I thought this proposal was supposed to be more modern!
Next we will be cutting holes in our sails to stiffen the booms with a tie through.
The only think good thing- in concept -about the package is the the board.
Starboard has already proven the can built a winning board for formula but the rest of their proposal is pretty sketchy

Be careful what you wish for.
Olympic status is a double edged sword.
Ask NP how their olympic program contributed to their bottom line.
Lots of good PR but nearly 100% failure rate for equipment the first 2 years.
Just like the RSX is a hybrid board that will sail in all conditions form 6-30k, it doesn't do any of them to well compared to the alternatives.
What makes the starboard olympic formula board any different?
I agree the Games should reward athleticism but Antoine winning the Formula worlds is as athletic as winning the RSX Worlds. Not as much cardio but more strength.
Is the benchpress any less athletic than the 100m dash?

Look for some interesting discussion at the starboard forum.


John said...


You make some very good points. I am new to formula myself so i can't make to much of an argument, but this is the way i see it. If they were to say everyone can use their own choice of sails and fins, it would give the people with the best gear the advantage. As opposed to giving everyone the exact same equipment, which puts everyone on the same level. That makes it come down to the sailor not the equipment. I agree that they shouldn't be using aluminum booms and 3 cam sails though they can do better than that..

G-42 said...

I think your comment on the athleticism argument is well taken - I don't think there's anything in ISAF bylaws that would suggest Olympic sailing is supposed to favor endurance athletes; decathletes and sprinters are high-caliber athletes just as triathletes and marathoners. Looking at sailors in the Olympic classes (which, except for WS, all ban kinetics aka pumping - and wasn't that one of the arguments for RS:X and against IMCO in the first place...), I see Finn sailors (big is fast...), Laser sailors (tall but mid-range on weight), etc.

And the whole argument that OD keeps cost down is bogus as well. Sure, 49ers are OD - but they all have different suits of sails for different conditions (as long as they measure within the box rules...). People spend incredible amounts of money to optimize their spars within the limits allowed by the rules.

Full formula as a development class may not be feasible for Olympic competition b/c of financial issues; clamping it down to one-size-fits-all, though, is throwing the baby out with the bath water.


Don said...


May I suggest a link related to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games?

Our site:

Title: Beijing Olympics

Please let me know if you want a link back.
Many thanks for your reply.

Best Regards,