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Olympic Sailing Evolution - Bruce Kendall proposes some changes

Olympic sailing formats need evolution to ensure
it is attractive to the public and the media.

Yachting races are most often not exciting to watch or
follow on live on TV or from the shore or even on the
water, as they are too often too inactive and boring, not
easy to understand or follow.

It is often boring to watch as the sailors are mostly still in
the boats and the most boats are not dynamic to watch
when they are sailing in a straight line. The sailors need to
be more interesting to watch by being more active and the
boats need to be doing more maneuvers.

Computer generated graphics combined with GPS do
makes races easier to understand but the aspects of wind
shifts and water flow effecting race outcomes need to be
shown better.

The current format of up wind racing is generally too hard
to cover live in exciting conditions [above 15 knots] on TV
as the boats carrying the cameras need to be specially
designed, large and the cameras needed are expensive.
Currently the sailors get too far away from the camera to
keep in shot easily if the camera boats are out side the
course. Camera boats should not be moving inside the
course as they make waves, wind shadows and create an
unpredictable obstacle.

Flying craft for filming yachting is either expensive, too
risky to failure and or affects the wind too much.

Small fleets become too elitist to encourage new people
into the sport and very large fleets are too difficult to
manage and cover well on television. One system dose
not fix all.

Television coverage is difficult to sell to television
companies for the above reasons and live television is
even more difficult sell due to the unreliable start and
finish times.

Post race or regatta montage programs are confusing
to watch and unfulfilling. It is too difficult to build a story
with suspense and have an exiting conclusion post
event when an event is not live and poorly covered.

The smaller course and shorter the race time, the easier it
is to watch and cover on TV. The smaller the course and
shorter the race, the less boats / boards can be on the
course at one time. So the “often unfair medal race” that
dose not reward consistency was created.

Currently we have fleet races of about 60 boats with
races from 20 to 50 minutes that can start at any time.
The races are almost impossible to watch live and the
media would find it impossible to show the story on TV.
The regatta finishes with a medal race with 10 sailors
that has double points and is not discard able. The
course is often still too big to see easily and constancy of
performance is not well rewarded.


The solutions are in improved regatta formats and sailing

There needs to be a range of racing formats during a
regatta to ensure all needs are meet for the sailors,
sponsors, spectators and media.

Regattas need to decide the best sailors fairly and safely
with as little out side interference from other boats not
racing, the race committee and jury.

The regatta needs to have big fleets and long races to
allow everyone to race against each other with out the
start dictating to result too much.

The regatta needs to reduce fleet size during the regatta
while keeping all the best sailors racing against each other
in every race.

The final races of the regatta need to have smaller fleet
sizes and courses to make the racing easier to show on

Races shown on TV need to be on time with their start
times and kept to a specified length of time suitable for
television audiences. Kinetic sailing must be allowed to
reduce wind minimums as far as possible and “on water
judging for kinetics” judging needs to be reduced or
eliminated. As long as there is a reasonably consistent
wind speed and direction for the start and the first beat,
the race should start and finish. The final numbers for
the “consistent” definition needs to be tested and voted
upon considering the variations of each class.

Olympic class centerboard boats need to consider more
the public perception and marketability of the sport rather

than the sailing purist concept evolved from forms of
sailing where active kinetic influences are not possible to
effect performance and where it is often considered that
the Olympic classes as just training for big boats.

General format

The over riding principal
A format with safe, fair racing over a wide range of
conditions with minimal out side interference from race
committees or judges and it should ensure the best sailor

A long all-inclusive first race with a reducing fleets system
during the regatta allowing for more media and spectator
friendly races at the end of the regatta.


The first race should be a marathon starting with a long
up wind beat or a direct down wind leg of at least one hour
or more before the fleet rounds a mark. The course should
take at from 2 to 4 hours.

This gives the media the opening photos of the event
pictures of the number of competitors there on the start
line and great images of a large number of boats sailing
down wind. This visual spectacle has a better chance of
attracting sponsorship due to the large numbers seen.
There is also a better opportunity to set a course where
the fleet sail around or close to unique land marks for
photo opportunities and close to spectator viewing from
land or spectator vessels.

A marathon race gives the competitors a chance to race
against every other sailor at one time. Weekend warriors
racing with the best. Sailors have a chance to really
show how fit and fast they are and how good their “big
picture weather and general race tactics are, especially if
they have to race around geographical marks with wind
shadows and water flow variations.

The marathon can be started from the beach if space
the equipment and conditions allow. This is great
viewing for spectators and the media. It is easier to
manage the start to be on time with out general recalls.

The finish can be bought very close to the spectators.

In a marathon, normally the start has less effect on the
race outcome than a short race.

Two marathons could allow for a fair first discard.

A marathon is a good way to break ties and divide fleets to
smaller numbers.

Windward leeward courses
Windward leeward courses courses are the best for
passing opportunities for racing and need to be at least
80% of the racing during a regatta. Windward leeward
courses are can be difficult for spectator viewing and
media coverage if fleet courses and sizes are too big.

Course races of between 30 to 50 minutes with fleets
of no more than 60 have been found to be the easiest
to manage for race committees in the laser, etchell and
windsurfing classes. When there are more than 60 it is

more difficult for the race committees to be accurate at
calling OCS starters, there are generally more general
recalls and less regard for the rules by the sailors when
rounding marks.

When the start line becomes too long or too congested
and the first beat too short, the start has too much
influence over the race to be consistently fair.

The bigger the first beat relative to the amount of sailors,
the fairer the racing.

30 to 60 minute races with fleets of less than 60 needs to
the bulk of the fleet racing results.

Fleet reductions
After 6 race results, the fleet sizes can be modified
at the end of each day of racing to continue reducing
the numbers in the top of the fleet while increasing the
numbers racing in the bottom of the fleet.

With smaller fleets, the courses can then become more
restricted in windward leeward columns and or closer to
the shore to encourage more tacking gibing and general
maneuvering closer to the media and possible spectators.
Small harbors could be used for a last race with just a few

Smaller fleets and courses allow the media and spectators
to follow the racing easier and potential medalists will
be able to better focus on racing each other without the
danger of inexperienced sailors colliding with them or
adversely effecting their results.

Fleet sizes should be able to begin a regatta with
unlimited entries and finish the regatta with a race of
possibly 4 or less sailors in a media time slot friendly, easy
to see live on sight race.

General race management improvements

There should only be one worse performance discard for
an entire regatta in order to keep it easy for the media and
spectators to follow.

Race scoring system
Consistent high performance over a large range of
conditions needs to be rewarded. This should be the over
riding principal for deciding who wins.
The points from the last races of the regatta with reduced
fleet sizes should not be discard able as the quality of the
fleet improves and the luck involved reduces.
Possibly the points values need to be increased as the
fleet size reduces during the regatta.
The sailor’s points need to be carried right through
to the end of the regatta. The details will need to be
experimented with in a real regatta situation.

Average points should not be given for redress decisions
as this is often not a fair or very accurate form of
compensation, GPS positioning should be used more
often to calculate a fair compensation.

Races should not be allowed to start when there is an
OCS starter. This is unfair to the sailors who started
correctly that are affected adversely at the start and
around the course. It is also confusing to spectators and

media who may not know that sailor is not actually racing.

General format solution.
There needs to be a bi annual format and racing rules
experimentation regattas run by the Olympic classes,
coaches and sailors with media experts and ISAF
observing and advising.
Properly designed and tested recommendations can then
be put forward in a timely fashion to be voted upon by the
classes and then presented to ISAF for voting to ensure
the sport has the opportunity to continue to evolve in a
sensible and efficient manor.

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