Guest editorial: The culling of men – a view from the boat park
[Our longtime friend and esteemed NZ editor of the Sail-World.com has penned a MUST READ piece for all current and potential Olympic sailors, and any of you who are at all interested in the Olympics or concerned about World Sailing's stewardship thereof. –TFE]
AUCKLAND (#1180) – The 2024 Sailing Olympics are over five years away for the panjandrums of World Sailing, but for 85+kg Men, the Regatta is now in a much more urgent focus. Over the next few months and maybe year, the Olympic representatives will be chosen for the ten events to be sailed at Enioshima, Japan.
Amongst the countries expected to top the Olympic medal table, there is a strong argument that they chose early, and allow the selected sailors to focus on their Olympic performance, and physical preparation on the specifics of Enoshima, without being left to hang for months on the Selection tenterhooks.
Once those choices are made, those not selected have some difficult decisions to make with seven of the ten current Olympic classes up for review/change - and probably in the next six-eight months.
If you sail the 49er, 49erFX or Nacra 17, classes - then sleep easily, there will be no change.
But for the rest - Laser, Laser Radial, RS:X M&W, Finn and 470 the course ahead is very unclear - and that is aside from the issue of having a substantial personal investment in multiple boats for an Olympic program event which will soon be made defunct.
First of these is the Finn class which World Sailing has put on the skids for the 2024 Olympics - using its slot for a Mixed Two-Person Offshore Keelboat event.
At the Symonite World OK Dinghy Championships [Wakatere Boating Club, near Auckland, NZL] , last week several past Olympians were competing, along with those embarking on Olympic sailing careers, and also some who are also high-performance coaches with current Olympic sailors.
"I think the Finn will end up being a class like this. There are already many more sailing at a masters level than there are Olympic sailors," says Dan Slater, the new World OK Dinghy Champion and three times Olympic Representative in the 49er and Finn, and a top international sailing coach.
"As far as new boats sold in the Finn class, it is 50/50 Olympic and Masters sailors."
Dan Slater competing in the Finn class at the 2012 Olympics in Weymouth - photo © Richard Gladwell
"The real question is what is going to happen in the next 10-15 years - and we just don't know that."
"It will be interesting to see what World Sailing's long-term strategy is - nobody seems to know what it is - it is just that some decisions have been made.
"Most of the MNA's have been head down and hidden from it all. They aren't coming out and saying here's why we voted for an offshore keelboat."
Dan Slater wins Race 4 - Day 3, Symonix OK World Championship, Wakatere Boating Club, February12, 2019 - photo © Richard Gladwell
"And I don't think too many of them can actually afford the decision they've made."
"If you look at a keelboat program, it is a million dollars, off the bat - before you've done a regatta. In fact, you wouldn't do a regatta. You'd just go and set up off Marseille, sail to every possible island in the vicinity of the coast. You'd be two-boating with coaches in attendance. You'd have to be based there because come the Olympic Regatta you just have to know that piece of water inside out."
(A nearby competitor/coach points out that an Olympic campaign in the Star keelboat cost a million dollars and says the offshore keelboat campaign would be nearer $2million.)
[Read Richard's full, and important, article on Sail-World.com here. –TFE]
Richard Gladwell is a frequent guest on Sailing Illustrated's twice-weekly webcast TFE LIVE that airs Tuesdays and Fridays at 1300 Pacific / 2100 UTC. Watch it live or a replay on SI's Facebook page.