Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hmmm. Multihulls?

Why is it that the recent decision by ISAF to drop multihulls as a sailing event in the 2012 Olympic Games has produced an outcry of complaints that a bunch of idiots are ruining the Games, that it will reduce the spectator interest in the Games, and that it will be bad for the sport of sailing...

While at the same time the likelihood that the next America's Cup may well be a match between two multihulls has produced an outcry of complaints that a couple of idiots are ruining the Cup, that it will reduce spectator interest in the Cup, and that it will be bad for the sport of sailing?

Doesn't anyone else see a contradiction here?


Ant said...

Who knows the reasons why, maybe because they have both become financially so lucrative for sponsors etc? Maybe because bigger, bestter, faster, flasher seems to be what "some people" think the public or the yachting spectator want?

I think it would be great if the olympics went back to "simpler boats" say like the Enterprise or a simple hobie cat or the Europe...? And maybe the Americas Cup could go back to proper yachts... Tea Clippers or maybe just Melges ??

Derek said...

I believe the incidents differ slightly.

In the case of the Olympics, we have group(s) with a vested interest in the growth and development of multihull sailing. These groups are made up of multihull classes and former or current multihull sailors. On the otherhand, many people that are not multihull sailors seem to be indifferent. My personal preference would have been to eliminate the Finn. It seems wrong to have two men's singlehanded events.

In the case of the America's Cup, I believe there are two factors. There are memories of repeating the recent history in the AC. The public interest and image of the AC were damaged by a similar situation in the courts several years back. Most people remember the result of this was a cat racing a massive monohull. This may have painted cats in a negative light, particularly in the AC match racing world.

More importantly, cats are known for not being as maneuverable as monohulls. I would guess this could take away from tactics of match racing. Although maybe not if the boats are relatively evenly matched. It might just further emphasize skill and boathandling.

Joe said...

I doubt that the dropping of multi-hulls will reduce the spectator interest in the Games. (Don't Tase me dudes, I love multi-hulls) Let's face it, sailing is not a big draw for the Olympics. Think track and field!

"The America's Cup" is a rich guys race, so the target group of spectators will not be diminished.


Tim said...

I think I can agree with Derek certainly and with Joe to a point. I like Ant's point about simplicity however there is something rather inspiring about a 49er in full tilt.

Carol Anne said...

The two competitions have different emphases, and therefore different sorts of boats are suitable.

In the case of the Olympics, the emphasis is on the athleticism of the participants, and small multihulls are perfect for that. Getting rid of the multihulls reduces the excitement.

On the other hand, the America's Cup yachts are big and sophisticated, and a whole lot of people remember the fiasco last time multihulls showed up in that competition. Part of the beauty of the America's Cup is the graceful shape of those powerful monohulls. Plus, there's a lot of Tradition, with a capital T, that people expect of the America's Cup, and multihulls don't fit in with that.

Pat said...

I too would have voted to dump the Finns as being more redundant. Multihulls bring in some new interest and might attract more viewers. Olympic sailing needs all the public appeal it can get.

As for the Cup, I'm not sure now that there's a whole lot of Tradition left ... the antics of the past few cups, and especially the recent embarrassments and litigation, have ripped a good bit of Tradition to shreds.

Our own itsy-bisty sailing club was more of a qualified yacht club than the hypothetical construct that the defending billionaire caused to be submitted. But, our board of directors wasn't interested in challenging.

Heretical as the suggestion might sound, would a cat-versus-cat AC be necessarily entirely a bad thing? What would be the pros and cons? How about 10 reasons why (or why not) the AC should be held in big cats?

Tillerman said...

Does New Mexico Sailing Club have an annual regatta on an arm of the sea, Pat?

Joe said...

The reason why the Olympics has two men's singlehanded events is that they have a boat for lighter and heavier sailors. Can you imagine having a single weight class for boxing, judo, and wrestling?

Tillerman said...

Joe, the Olympic Programme Commission Executive Board Report, August 2002 specifically said, "Weight category events should not be allowed, except for the combat sports, and for weightlifting."

Arguably ISAF by including a "singlehanded heavyweight" discipline in its recommendation is in contravention of this rule.

Team Gherkin said...

Woah! What a touchy subject! But, a bit of "healthy discussion" is always a healthy thing.

I guess people were saying the same thing about the Americas Cup, when they dropped the J-Class and went to the 12-Meter.

What I wouldn't give to see two J-Class' racing together again! That's just about destroy my brain! Wow! heh heh

Mal :)

Joe said...

"Weight category events should not be allowed, except for the combat sports, and for weightlifting."

The magic word then is "should." If they wanted to ban weight categories then they should have said, "Weight category events are not allowed, except for the combat sports, and for weightlifting."

By the way here is a little tid bit via Sail World from the very report that you cite:
The full text of the IOC recommendations in regards to Sailing contained in the Olympic Programme Commission Executive Board Report, August 2002 is:

Sailing (ISAF) – Reduction in athlete quota and number of events In comparison with other individual sports, the Commission noted the high quota and number of events in sailing, in comparison to the low broadcast and spectator appeal. In addition, the cost and complexity of the operations of the sailing competition were discussed, with the resulting challenges for general practice and development of the sport.

The Commission therefore recommends the reduction of the athlete quota and number of events in the sport of sailing for the Programme of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad.

It was noted that the Keelboat class are very expensive boats and demand costly infrastructure for Olympic competition, and for general practice and development in comparison to other classes. Therefore, if the Executive Board recommends the reduction in the number of athletes and events, the Commission believes these reductions could be made through the exclusion of keelboat sailing events from the Programme of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, which would also reduce the construction and operational costs and complexity.

Tillerman said...

Good point Joe.

And I guess the so-called Heavyweight Singlehanded discipline is not really a "weight category" event in the sense that combat and weightlifting sports are. As far as I know there has never been a rule in any level of singlehanded dinghy sailing competition that restricted the weights of the sailors. It's purely physics that makes a particular boat more appropriate to guys of a certain weight. If some 130 lb kid wanted to try and win a place in the Olympics in Finns he can give it a shot.

Pat said...

Having the two "weight" classes for men's singlehanded could of course be seen as discriminatory, since there aren't two women's weight classes.

fernando said...

Hi Tillerman,

As an ex-laser sailor and current Tornado skipper I have to acknowledge that at least there's a debate.

I'm affected by this decision highly, thus my opinions are biassed, still I have to appreciate that there are some willing to discuss if this is the right move for olympic sailing.

All the best,

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