A medal race? Bad idea! So let’s have 2

Against the wishes of sailors, ISAF now wants to make Olympic regattas and the like have 2 double points medal races after a series of only 6. It used to be 10+1.

You can read more here

Now according to its own website, ISAF is responsible for:

  • the promotion of the sport internationally;
  • managing sailing at the Olympic Games;
  • developing the Racing Rules of Sailing and regulations for all sailing competitions;
  • the training of judges, umpires and other administrators;
  • the development of the sport around the world; and
  • representing the sailors in all matters concerning the sport.

So under which of these headings does a 6+2 mickey-mouse-ification come? Certainly not any of the last 4. You can “manage the sailing at the Olympic Games” more easily without this nonsense, so it can only be “promotion of the sport”.

But how encouraging would it be if the commentator had the guts to say:

“well here we are at the pinnacle of sailing, with another double points race under the cliffs where the conditions will be extremely unpredictable and random.

 Just to appease the great god television and add some ‘drama’ there is a pretty fair chance the best sailors at the regatta will not actually win, so keep watching folks and see who has 8 years of blood, sweat and dedication go up in smoke because some bureaucrat thinks their tears will sell more soap powder.

 Iain Percy and Bart Simpson (RIP) were so robbed at Weymouth in the Star class but disappointed the advertisers by being extremely sporting and gracious about it. Where was the drama in that? Accordingly, ISAF have now doubled the anti, hoping someone will actually entertain the mob and throw their toys out of the pram this time.”

Terrific thinks the viewer, I must take up sailing. Looks like a fair and fun sport. Or not.

So what about some equally silly ideas for other sports? Now golf is in the Olympics, perhaps we could have some ball-chasing dogs let loose to run-off with Tiger’s ball up the last fairway. How about a bus stopping randomly in the velodrome? These would add drama and make the winner less certain too.  

If ISAF actually wants to promote sailing, it needs to enable kids around the world to find out for themselves that sailing is the ultimate sport. It  needs to realise that its Key Performance Indicators are not about Olympiad TV viewers but the number of people, around the world who participate in sailing, whatever the flavour, whatever their age, gender, ability, or shoe-size. And it needs to get the message across to the masses that sailing is not a sport exclusively for the rich but can be enjoyed on a shoe-string by pretty much anyone.

A good start would be to point out the Americas Cup is an irrelevant, anachronistic multi-billionaires ego-trip and as much to do with sailing as Apollo 11 was to do with a garden firework.

Then drop this ridiculous idea. I’ve always said that sailing is simply not a spectator sport. But the tech is now available to change that – put some telemetry on the boats and push it onto the web.

Oh, and put team racing in the games – now that is a a thrilling watch



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