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Olympic windsurfing OD board - the debate continues

Selection for 2012: An open letter to Starboard

Whilst I admire Svein’s zeal for promoting Olympic windsurfing, I have 16 years of experience in managing both IMCO and now the RS:X classes. This has lead me to the following conclusions

a) IMCO was selected for the Olympics in 1992 so when we staged the 1993 IMCO Europeans there were more than 250 entries made up of a mixture of the best recreational sailors already in the pre-existing large class and the Olympic athletes transferring from the Lechner class. The recreational sailors pretty soon found out that they were neither fit enough or with enough spare time off work to compete against the ex-Lechner Olympic class athletes. They quit to race something else where they could have fun with their circle of friends. Numbers have remained stable ever since.

b) To be an Olympian requires a very special dedication. To get onto and stay on the Olympic pathway requires an equal amount of determination. Only very few posess such drive and focus.

c) Windsurfing is a global sport. Windsurfing in the Olympics is supported by ISAF national authorities in every continent. Many do not have the beautiful sea breezes that every windsurfer likes to enjoy. The ISAF had a six knot minimum windspeed at the recent Olympic Regatta in Quingdao, China. Everyone believed that it was going to be a light wind event. In fact it turned out to be the windiest Olympic Regatta since Seoul 1988. Weymouth 2012 is predicted to be ‘windy’ but history tells us that there is no guarrantee that it will be.

d) The FWOD bid is based on the premise that fair and equitable racing is possible in 6 knots of wind. They say it is. There is absolutely no independent evidence which supports this. In fact the MNAs who have done national trials to find out, have discovered that the reverse is the case. Getting 60 boards off a start line is struggle. The VMG of an FW board in these conditions is poor. Naturally there will be areas of the course with much lighter winds than 6 knots. Those who find themselves in these no wind zones will effectively be ‘parked’.

e) Looking at the entry list for the current FW World Championship in Portugal, one sees a mere handful of FWOD entries and only 15 women. There is therefore no evidence that the FW racers are voting with their feet in support of the FWOD concept. Neither is there any evidence that women windsurfers are supporting the FWOD concept in great numbers.

f) On a technicality, the ISAF require a peice of Olympic equipment to be managed by an international class by the time of the Olympic Regatta for which it is selected. The Mistral One Design was in fact a one design ‘Raceboard’. It was a distinct international class separate from the International Raceboard class. The FW class is an international class. If one day the FWOD manage to convince ISAF that their bid is a good one then it too will be an international class distinct from the IFWC.

g) The ISAF ran a trials in 2003/2004 to select equipment for the 2008 Olympic Regatta. The International RS:X Class association has clearly demonstrated that is worthy of this selection. The supplied equipment at the recent Olympic Regatta was thought to be excellent by those taking part. Neil Pryde has done a magnificent job of getting to grips with the demands of the sailors racing RS:X. They are to be congratulated.

h) To call the IMCO and the RS:X artificial classes as Svein does is to denigrate all those who are or have been involved in them. It also demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of the Olympic process.

Rory Ramsden
International RS:X Class Association

Tags: 2012 Olympics

Thursday, September 18th, 2008 4:21 am RSS 2.0 feed.

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