Monday, July 26, 2010

Champagne Sailing

It is now abundantly clear that the Olympic sailing organizers got it all wrong with the "medal race" concept - the idea that they would make the last race of the regatta more exciting by allowing only the top ten sailors to race in it, awarding double points, and not allowing that score to be thrown out.

Sailing should instead learn from the immensely popular sport of cycling and copy the Tour de France format where, for reasons I have not been able to discover or understand, the last stage is largely ceremonial. So, this year, Alberto Contador, who was leading Andy Schleck by the slimmest of margins, cruised along in the final "race" sipping champagne, shooting his friends with a squirt gun, and sticking his fingers in the air to indicate how many times he had won the Tour. Apparently Mr. Schleck was too much of a nice guy to pedal a bit harder and beat Mr. Contador while he was performing these antics. Or something.

Fantastic. Let's do it, Olympic sailing organizers. Scrap the medal race. Go for the ceremonial race. A bottle of champagne and a squirt gun on every boat and let's party.


Tim said...

The Tour De France is a marathon - it's more like the Round the World race (used to be) than an Olympic Regatta. Just surviving the 3 weeks is a major achievement - hence the celebration on the last day.

It does have all sorts of strange "traditions", but I personally think this adds to the colour of the event.

Tillerman said...

Absolutely, Platts Motor Company Ltd. I only became aware of some of these strange traditions this year, having always been under the impression before that the Tour de France was a race and that people were trying to win it.

I must admit I do like these colorful customs such as, "let's all wait for Andy if his chain comes off" and, "hey, it's the last day so let's all get stoned and let Alberto win." Sailing would be much more fun if we adopted the same spirit.

By the way, Platts Motor Company Ltd, you win the prize for "most interesting name for a commenter on this blog." Hope to hear from you again.

Baydog said...

I like the idea

Baydog said...

Such a dope

Tillerman said...

Welcome to Tex and Edna Boyle's Prairie Warehouse and Curio Emporium. You are now entitled to wear the pink and white spotted jersey for "most interesting name for a commenter on this blog."

By the way, do you know a fellow called Baydog?

Pandabonium said...

That's the way I always sail. Race? What's the rush?

Pat said...

So how close is John Kerry's New Zealnad uber-yacht to your home?

Pat said...

New Zealand, sorry. I guess the Senator decided that New England shipwrights weren't capable enough to build the yacht to his standards.

Tillerman said...

Pat, I understand that Isabel is currently at the Hinckley Shipyard in Porstmouth which about 8 miles away, but her permanent home will be the Newport Shipyard about 15 miles away.

Ole Eichhorn said...

The last stage of the Tour is a sprint, because it is flat (no climbing) and finishes on the Champs d'Elysee (which is flat).

The race is contested, but it is contested among the sprinters in the peloton. The riders who are in competition for the overall best time (aka General Classification or GC) are not sprinters, they are climbers, and climbers cannot gain time on each other in a sprint, because the entire field finishes as one group.

In theory the GC contenders could attack before the finish and win in a breakaway, but in practice they would be chased by the teams of the sprinters to setup a final sprint which their riders could win.

It should also be said...

...that sailing and the English, in particular, may have learned something from cycling and the French.

The Tour de France was created as a publicity stunt by a newspaper publisher hungry for readers, in a competition with a rival newspaper.

Can you think of a major round the world sailing race that began the same way?

The 'parade' to Paris grew out of one of the early runnings when the race ended in the country and they needed to get the riders back to Paris.

Politics, money, and cheesy commercialism have always been part of the tour - witness the caravan of sponsor trucks that precedes the race (out of the view of television coverage) even today.

It will always be controversial and I think the French wouldn't have it any other way.

Tillerman said...

Thanks Ole. I think I get it now.

So it's as if sailing had upwind specialists and downwind specialists? The upwind guys always win the regattas overall but some races are mainly runs so that some of the downwind guys can win them? And the last race in the regatta is always a long downwind race? But if one of the upwind guys tried to break away from the fleet in that last race, then the pack of downwind guys would team race him and give him dirty air so that one of the downwind guys could win that race?

Makes sense.

I guess.

Baydog said...

What I should have originally and simply said was, "you mean you don't always sail with champagne and squirtguns on board?"

Baydog said...

And, "It should also be said" sounds eerily familiar.

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