Anyone know what happened to the foilers in the Texel?

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by CT249, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. David Cooper
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    David Cooper Senior Member

    (You named the wrong person at the top of your reply - it should have been a reply to me.)

    But success for the Radial is success for the Laser - it's just a different version of the same boat. So, if the Radial has taken over, what does that actually tell you? How heavy are the people sailing them? At ten stone, I don't consider myself to be underweight (and I'm of average height), but I'm right in the middle of the optimal weight range for the Radial, and I have no desire to put on lots of excess weight just to be competitive in the standard Laser. (At my local club though, the only real choice is between the standard Laser and the Blaze, so I'd have to race the standard Laser if I wanted to sail a single-hander.)

    I want a foiler of some kind, but I certainly don't want the older classes to disappear - ripping along on something that hardly touches the water to the accompaniment of a constant whine from the stays is a very different game, and the losses are at least as substantial as the gains. I want to continue to sail older boats while also adding the opportunity to sail something new and cutting edge. Foilers offer an addition to the variety on offer rather than being a replacement for anything, and the Olympics should be trying to support that diversity.
  2. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member


    Very true, David.
    The problem with catering for diversity, though, is that you only have ten medals,and the IOC also demands that sports should have good international representation - the IOC Programme Commission "scoresheets" actually have many more criteria about international representation than about TV ratings.

    The recent history of the Olympics shows clearly that the skiff and cat get very poor international representation, and at the moment the same applies to foilers. So some medals have to go to the Lasers, 470 and windsurfers, which are the classes that get the most widespread support and spread the most medals to Asia. We've got to have a cat, as well. So how do we support diversity when we have at most four medals left, and they have to be spread among sailors who are 50/50 men and women and include good entries from Asia and Africa?

    Using rough figures (nationals attendance figures and national sports surveys) only about 100 of the 3800 boats that race UK national titles are foilers, so of course once you add all the cruiser/racer sailors and all the dinghy and dayboat crews the number of actual foiler sailors become an absolutely tiny proportion of all sailors. And the UK's strong Moth fleet makes it one of the top two foiling nations, AIUI. (EDIT - of course the foilers are also split up into four disciplines themselves, to make it even harder to support the diversity!).

    So given that foiling represents such an incredibly small part of world sailing despite more than a dozen years of hard-core promotion and that growth is pretty slow (they make up only 2% of new sales in the ISAF classes) can it really be given a place in the Games in the name of diversity when so many much more popular disciplines are ignored? There is the argument that foilers should be in the Games to lift TV ratings, of course, but they said that spinnaker-carrying cats, skiffs and the RSX would lift TV ratings - and yet the sport still rated 3rd lowest of them all in 2012. So how many times do we have to fall for people gabbling and babbling that "this new discipline will bring the viewers in and save Olympic sailing" before we stop listening to them?
  3. jonas a
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    jonas a Junior Member

    World Sailing needs to get their act together before any TV-ratings will get improved. Look at the latest world cup e.g. Almost only local sailors and very little interest generally. I think the only foiler in the next Olympics will be the Nacra, if they chose to convert it. I guess it will be dependent on added cost, performance in light air(?) and politics.

    Regardless of what classes are in the Olympics, it's still very difficult to make it interesting for TV-viewers
  4. David Cooper
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    David Cooper Senior Member

    When I said diversity should be supported, I was thinking more about the diversity of ordinary club classes than foilers, and it's certainly more important to encourage the more affordable end of sailing round the world than the high-end stuff. Foilers are still only in the process of developing towards the point where they might deserve to qualify on that basis, but fortunately the Nacra 17 only takes up one medal and represents both genders in one go. The exact same gender trick could be done with the 49er and 470 to free up two medals for other things.

    The Finn (which gives heavier men a chance to be competitive in a single-hander) looks endangered if the plan is to balance up the genders 50:50, but the whole thing's unsatisfactory in another way. Jon Emmett, for example, might have won as many golds as Ben Ainslie if there was a men's Laser Radial class in the Olympics - people are being discriminated against on the basis of weight and stature, and sticking with the same classes every time sustains that discrimination. Perhaps there should be a rotation for the men between Laser Radial, Laser Standard and Finn giving them one shot at it every twelve years (though this would still bias things towards the people in the middle who could potentially be competitive in two of them by varying their weight).

    What have we got in the Olympics now, and should it stay as it is? Here's how I'd like to run it:-

    RSX x2 - this could perhaps be done in every other Olympics with kiteboarding appearing in between. The problem with trying to support both in every Olympics would be that it would eat up 40% of the available medals just to cover standing-up sailing.

    Laser x2 - these could rotate with other types of single-handers to bias it less towards a specific weight of sailor and share out the success a bit more fairly.

    470 x2 - reduce to one and mix genders. Could also alternate with other classes, such as 420, Fireball and RS500.

    49er x2 -reduce to one and mix genders. Could also alternate with other classes such as RS800. Could also alternate between skiffs and non-foiling cats, bringing back the Tornado (which for my money is the best Olympic class of all time).

    Finn - already covered: alternate this with Laser Standard and Radial for men.

    Nacra 17 - retain it, but it must be a foiling class, and alternate it with other foiling classes as the range improves.

    I've freed up three slots for guest classes which could again alternate but needn't reappear so frequently. There would be no restriction on what can be chosen for two of these, the first being for fleet racing and the second for match racing. This is where all manner of ordinary club dinghies old and new like the Wayfarer, Enterprise, RS200, etc. would get their day in the sun, boosting their status and rewarding people for keeping the older designs on the water, but it would also allow old Olympic classes to make an occasional return.

    I'd give the last slot to an alternation through a range of smaller boats capable of being crewed by an adult and child, or two older children, or two exceptionally lightweight adults, or whatever adds up to the right weight to be competitive, but with a requirement that both of the crew will helm half the races each - no gender requirements as it shouldn't have any impact on who wins. The Mirror's an obvious class to use for this, but there are doubtless some more modern lumps of foam that could get their turn too (even the ones that are hideously ugly), and there would be no harm in giving designs like the Pelican a go even though they're generally confined to a small region - it would be good to encourage their spread, but it's also important to avoid killing off cultural diversity by picking one class to be handed world domination at the expense of all others. Variety makes the world more interesting and fun.

    I would also introduce an entry fee for the richer countries which would pay for boats to be given to poorer countries, making sure their top sailors are armed with the right equipment for the following Olympics and helping to fund their travel.

    By the way, we're about to move into a new age in which most work disappears (along with all the fake education which squanders so much of people's lives up front), and we're going to be freed up to spend a lot more time doing better things like sailing, once we've rid ourselves of our crazy obsession with flushing most of our money down the toilet by building concrete prisons for ourselves to waste most of our lives doing completely unnecessary work in. We'll have five extra days a week available for sailing, and the money to spend on boats (which will also become much less expensive as human workers are replaced by machines), so my biggest worry about the future of sailing is that there might not be enough water to go round without damaging nature. But my next concern is with preserving diversity of boats so that sailing remains maximally interesting.
  5. Corley
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    Corley epoxy coated

    I'm surprised they don't have a keelboat class in the Olympics since they are perhaps the most popular sailing boats to sail on average after dinghies. I don't have the numbers in front of me but just a cursory look around the average club would suggest that to be true. According to the wiki the Star was the last keelboat for men in 2012 and the Elliot 6 for women. If they needed to have a single keelboat that supported men and women why not have a class with mixed crew requirements and weight limits?
  6. David Cooper
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    David Cooper Senior Member

    A much better solution though would be to split the Olympics up into smaller chunks adding up to more sport than before: there's already a winter version for snow and ice sports, but there could be two summer ones in different years, one for dry land sports (athletics, wheels, fights, arrows, etc.) and the other for water sports (swimming, diving, rowing, kayaks, sailing). That would allow more boat classes to be included while at the same time making it much easier for countries to afford to host an Olympics. It would also make it easier for viewers to watch all the events they want to see and expose them to a greater range of sports than they'd normally have time for.

  7. gggGuest
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    gggGuest ...

    However if you add the Laser Masters Nationals turnout the Laser then comes out at the top of the list of UK adult classes. The masters, incidentally, includes competitors as young as 33.

    My own suspicion, which I can't back up with solid evidence, is that there are now so many U21 sailors at the Laser Nationals that adult amateur sailors don't find the event socially congenial, whilst the Olympic squad have higher priorities elsewhere.
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