Saturday, November 26, 2005

Olympic Team Racing

The ISAF recently announced the new format for Olympic Sailing.
The big difference is the Medal Race on the last day. Only the top ten boats advance to the Medal Race and all boats advancing to the medal race are required to compete. The Medal Race cannot be discarded and race scores are doubled (2 points for first, 4 points for second, and so on). The score from the medal race is added to the series score to determine the final scores. There will be an on the water jury for the Medal Race, so all protests will be decided on the water.

So, a sailor who sails consistently to a series lead of less than 21 points over the previous 11 races could lose a medal by having a bad medal race. I think this changes the fundamental requirement of consistency over the range of conditions and situations in the regatta, in favor of a one race sail-off in what could be different conditions, in an artificially smaller fleet, with jury decisions made on the water. The ISAF seems to be under pressure from the IOC to change the format of Olympic sailing to make it more exciting for the media. I wonder if other sports are having the same problems...maybe the Olympic marathon could be decided by a 100 meter sprint between the top ten finishers on the day following the marathon finish.

I think a better solution would be to add an Olympic Team Racing event. My suggestion would be for teams to be composed of the sailors already qualified in other classes and for the event to be sailed in identical boats (i.e. Vanguard 15s). (Only countries with enough sailors qualified in enough classes would be able to form team racing teams.) Top sailors from each country would team up to race with sailors from other classes in an exciting conclusion to the sailing events. The 49er and 470 sailors would probably remain together as partners, but perhaps the Laser skipper and one of the Yngling sailors would form the third boat in the team. A team race format could be TV friendly and explained in terms that casual viewers could understand.

Team racing is becoming well known worldwide. The 2005 ISAF Team Racing World Championships were held in Newport in October. Teams were from Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Great Britain, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, United States and the USVI. The event was won by Team WHishbone - Tim FALLON (N. Falmouth, Mass.), Karen RENZULLI (Needham, Mass), Mark IVEY (Hungtington Beach, Calif.), Matt LINDBLAD (Newport, R.I.), Tim WADLOW (Beverly, Mass.), and Ery LARGAY (Osterville, Mass.).

1 comment:

Eli said...

I agree, Team racing would be a great, entertaining, and fairly easy to understand format for the Olympics. When I was actively team racing, I found it to be more fun that any other kind of sailing to be honest. It would be great to get more people into it.