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May 15, 2018: Olympic schmozzle..AC Update

15/05/2018


Sail-World NZ: May 15, 2018 - Olympic schmozzle..AC Update

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Potentially World Sailing could have decided change to seven of the ten Olympic classes for the Paris 2024 Olympics sailed in Marseille, France - photo © Richard Gladwell


Dear [recipient name]


Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for May 15, 2018

Apologies for being offline, however, if you have been following our website or social media, you will realise we have been breaking significant stories on the Olympic Events and classes for Paris 2024 which are very expensive timewise - with far too many 3.00am finishes.

The fact that these stories have been consistently topping Sail-World's story rankings NZ and worldwide is an indication of the level of reader interest.

Overnight the situation was at least partially resolved, with the RS:X, Finn and 470 being retained for Paris 2024 albeit it under different guises in the case of the latter two classes.

There's a place too for the kiteboards - but for how long is the real question.

Five other classes were excluded from the Review - the 49er, 49erFX, Nacra 17, laser and Laser Radial and complete the fleet for Paris 2024, for which the sailing regatta will be held in Marseille.

In New Zealand, we are less affected by the Olympic class decisions because of the other options going for sailing - the America's Cup, Volvo Ocean Race and other professional sailing opportunities - plus the excellent programs such as those offered by Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

After last night's World Sailing Council vote, there has been little change in the Olympic classes. They have essentially remained - some just with different names. There have been some zany event formats proposed. But that is symptomatic of World Sailing’s media problem.

Finn class start in Medal race in Rio - photo © Richard Gladwell
Finn class start in Medal race in Rio - photo © Richard Gladwell
The much touted re-shaping of the sport has not happened. Thankfully.

World Sailing's administrators have shown themselves to be detached from the mainstream of the sport.

Getting a 20,000 signature petition against you in just two weeks is quite a feat.

Equally impressive is the achievement of having an open letter published against you in Seahorse, an authoritative international sailing magazine - signed by six Olympic medallists and the most successful coach in Olympic sailing history. Some will try and marginalise the letter as just being a note signed by seven sailors.

The real downside risk for those sailors is that if they get offside with their national authority and get labelled as "troublemakers", they put their Olympic funding at risk, and eventual Olympic selection too. It's not an action they would have taken lightly. The truth is that there are probably hundreds that would have gladly joined them.

Start of the Nacra 17 Medal race - 2016 Olympic Regatta - photo © Richard Gladwell
Start of the Nacra 17 Medal race - 2016 Olympic Regatta - photo © Richard Gladwell
World Sailing has also managed to get itself offside with most of the sailing world's online media - not just for their actions which seem to be in response to an undeclared agenda, but also with their lack of transparency.

The latest example of which is their refusal to allow live video/broadcast of the two days of Council meetings. They were able to do this for the November 2017 meeting. It was useful and enabled those outside the World Sailing bubble to at least see what is going down. The technology involved in a live broadcast is within the capacity of an IT-savvy ten-year-old.

These were decisions being made which affected tens of thousands of sailing careers. Right from a 12year old sailing Optimists, as to what his/her pathway should be; to those in the mix for Tokyo2020 and aiming for Paris2024, and those who are in serious contention for Tokyo2020 but also have an eye on Paris2024 and beyond.

Potentially World Sailing could have obsoleted half the world Olympic fleet. That is a very serious debate. Why shouldn't the people (and their parents/sponsors) be able to hear those discussions live or in replay if they were on the other side of the world, get the full story, and make their own decisions?

The only female skipper in the Medal race Gemma Jones (NZL) helms the Nacra 17 to a win in the Medal Race - photo © Richard Gladwell
The only female skipper in the Medal race Gemma Jones (NZL) helms the Nacra 17 to a win in the Medal Race - photo © Richard Gladwell
Part of the issue is the conflict of interest within World Sailing. There are too many influencing the sport from the inside who are paid by external sailing bodies - either as employees or contractors – and are also holding elected positions within World Sailing.

For them, it is great - as their sphere of influence is extended. Collectively it just encourages politics and power-broking. It doesn’t improve the quality of a debate when people are ducking in an out of a meeting/discussion because their employer is an interested party. That’s if they leave the room at all but instead stay and influence the discussion and just abstain in a secret vote.

The flip side is that the organisation's regulations are riddled with references as to how a conflict of interest should be handled. The simple bright-line test is that if you are on the payroll of a member national authority or class association, then you should be barred from holding elected office. Simple.

Day 2 - Laser Radial  - Rio Olympic Regatta - photo © Richard Gladwell
With close racing like this - why do we need compressed race formats - Day 2 - Laser Radial - Rio Olympic Regatta - photo © Richard Gladwell
World Sailing also has a media problem.

Firstly in its coverage of the Olympic regatta which did not really change from 2012 to 2016, and to which World Sailing thinks the solution is to change the classes. How about working out how to shoot live video on the ocean courses rather than restricting coverage to a land-locked polluted bay? We now know that the IOC looks to the sports federations as to how their sport can be best covered.

Then there's World Sailing's relationship with the sailing media - exemplified above.

Over the next few months there’s a lot more water to go under the bridge on these and other issues.

Taylor Canfield (left) and crew Victor Diaz de Leon, George Peet, Mike Buckley and Erik Shampain, champions of the 68th Argo Group Gold Cup - photo © Charles Anderson / RBYC
Taylor Canfield (left) and crew Victor Diaz de Leon, George Peet, Mike Buckley and Erik Shampain, champions of the 68th Argo Group Gold Cup - photo © Charles Anderson / RBYC

Changing to the , we have an interview with Mike Buckley, organiser for Team USA 21 - he's also a member of Taylor Canfield's champion match racing team, who've been working on a Challenge for the past 12 months.

The team say they have "eight figures" of backing to date but are looking for a couple more to commit before making a formal challenge.

The challenge is modelling itself along the lines of Team New Zealand - in that it will be America-first for designers, builders, crew and suppliers. With the now booming US economy, the team should get a good reception.

Already they have engaged designers and are operational – but time is of the essence – particularly for a two boat team.

The 470 is expected to be confirmed as a Mixed Two handed class for the 2024 Olympics in Marseille. The class will race as a Male and Female event in Tokyo 2020 - photo © Richard Gladwell
The 470 is expected to be confirmed as a Mixed Two handed class for the 2024 Olympics in Marseille. The class will race as a Male and Female event in Tokyo 2020 - photo © Richard Gladwell

Not sure if they have hit up President Trump yet. He was a backer of Stars and Stripes in 87 - and the Team USA 21 program is the nearest in style to that highly successful team. Others since have been billionaire-backed, which does provide some financial comfort in the opening phases, but can become an issue further down the track if egos begin to make their presence felt

The sidebar to the USA Team 21 piece is that Buckley says he has come across three other challengers in the market over and above those already announced or outed. That would bring the Class of 2021 to eight entries - which is one more than the available bases.

Certainly, eight teams would be a very good result for New Zealand and would go a long way to rebuilding an event which staged a useful recovery in Bermuda after being in the Doldrums for the previous decade.

Patricia Freitas (BRA) - Day 2, Womens RS:X - Rio Olympic Regatta - photo © Richard Gladwell
The RS:X made it back for Men and Women - Patricia Freitas (BRA) - Day 2, Womens RS:X - Rio Olympic Regatta - photo © Richard Gladwell
Follow all the racing and developments in major and local events on Sail-World.com by scrolling to the top of the site, select New Zealand, and get all the latest news and updates from the sailing world.

All stories are available on Sail-World.com/nz

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

Gintare Scheidt (LTU) tunes up in a 35kt squall before racing was abandoned - Rio Olympics - photo © Richard Gladwell
Gintare Scheidt (LTU) tunes up in a 35kt squall before racing was abandoned - Rio Olympics - photo © Richard Gladwell
 
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