Formula One Design
Hey Check out the latest Statement from Svein on the Formula One Design
I participated in LA 1984, the first Olympic games of windsurfing. My sailing then extended 10 years on the PWA tour, competing on race boards, slalom boards and in the wave discipline as well. I later started Starboard, which has been the windsurfing board market leader for 6 years in a row.
The reason for my letter is that I would like to share the following with you:
When the Formula windsurfing class asked us to work with them on a Formula One design concept for the Olympics, I had to think about it long and hard as I was believing that we needed a light wind alternative, a set of equipment that could also work in 2- 5 knots, thus energize all the light wind areas in the world. Then my mind turned to the IMCO class.
This class had equipment that worked great in light winds. The IMCO class was very much marketed and heavily supported by the national federations for 12 years, yet the day it no longer had a Olympic medal, it was proved that the class was “artificial”, as no one continued to participate in it. That proved to me that at this stage in time, the majority of windsurfers that wish to compete on an Olympic style course, are mainly interested in competing in planing conditions. I like to compete in light winds as well, but I am in a small minority today and must accept that.
The RSX was “artificially” born, the equipment style selected was never raced in large fleets, medals were made available, the national support was made available and a limited amount of sailors will participate until the class will be taken off the Olympic program and then most likely disappear just like IMCO did.
This “artificial” participation is what we want to avoid, to stop the decline of participation in Olympic windsurfing classes. We want to propose racing on a style of equipment that has drawn more competitors than RSX or IMCO over the last 8 years, and still does.
The FW class has more international competitors despite the fact that it has no Olympic medal and no national association support, thus it has become popular because the kit is what most racers would like to compete on today. Further, I would have liked to see a class where different manufacturers could have equipment available, but frozen for 4 years at the time.
We however understood that this is still to early for ISAF to accept, so we happily gave our support to the FOD program, and our goal is very simply:
Create an Olympic class that draws participants not only because it’s Olympic, but because it’s a class sailed on equipment that sailors actually prefer to race on.
Thanks for your support.
It would be interesting to see the evidence for the claim that most racers want to sail planing boards. The claim has been made repeatedly, but it's never been backed up with proof.
Should intelligent adults be expected to just nod their head and accept claims without proof, or should we be given the facts so we can judge the claims?
Should ISAF just accept the claims without being given the numbers?
Why not give the numbers to back up the claim?
A while ago, I added up the number of competitors in the following events;
United Kingdom Windsurfing Association national circuit.
US national rankings
US national titles
French national rankings (excluding marathon and Raceboards as I didn't know whether the RBs were hybrids or not, and marathon races are arguably different to regular course races)
German national rankings
Australian titles, last two years.
Kona One rankings.
The numbers indicated that of regular course racers:-
514 sailed FE or FW.
About 1630 sailed hybrids (mainly T293s but not counting the Olympic RSX circuit)
About 990 sailed longboards
Regular slalom etc type racing is small in Germany, Australia, the USA, fairly small in the UK I think, and I'm not sure about France. The vague ideas I can get from the Netherlands indicate that FW is not dominant in numbers, while in Hong Kong raceboards seem to dominate.
These figures are nothing like accurate. They are probably quite different from sales, because in some classes boards last in top condition for many years.
However, with the greatest of respect, surely even these imperfect figures are better evidence of what people are actually racing than claims that seem to be backed by no available evidence.
If the FOD bid backers have evidence to back their claim that most racers race shortboards (assuming they mean regular racers) then why don't they release them to us?
If they don't have a good analysis of worldwide numbers of competitors then how do they know they are right?
Should we be accepted to simply accept claims about an important aspect of the sport, if we are not given any proof?
If the fact that the IMCO died quickly after it got dropped from the Games indicated that most racers want to sail a planing-only board, then why do so many people race big boards at national level?
Maybe the death of the IMCO showed that going Olympic hurts a type of class. After all, since the IMCO was dumped, there have been a whole bunch of new longboards and the third new raceboard (Equipe 3) is on its way. So the raceboard class almost died when it was Olympic, now it seems to be reviving..... does FW want to risk going the same way?
Maybe it won't, but can the bid's supporters give us some evidence why the FOD won't hurt the FW class in the same way that the Lechner killed the D2 class, the Tornado cat
killed the open B Class, etc?
The next OG will happen in a windy place, OK.
Everybody wants a planning board, OK.
BUT, and after? We don't know where the 2016 OG will happen, and if they chose a light wind venue like China we go through the same process again and again. And IOC and ISAF will have to chose an equipment suited for this light wind venue. Is it worthy to expend money, effort and everything else to have an equipment for ONLY 4 YEARS? Have you thought about that? I'm a Formula racer, but I don't know if it's the best way to go, I think the Olympic windsurfing needs stabilty on equipment for a longer period.
Thanks, good winds.
Formula would have easily managed a series of races (10 + Medal Race) at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, with 3 days of racing completed on the fin (planning upwind) with the RS: X.
The only format that needs to be adapted is the maximum number of races per day, which is currently 3 on the RS: X (2 in non-planning conditions)
If this number was increased to 4 races per day (perfectly viable on the Formula as it is not as physically as intense as an RS: X due to the board actually wanting to plane and not requiring force to do so i.e pumping) then a series would easily be achieved, just 2 days of 7 knots + in the entire schedule would allow 8 races, bring that up to 3 days planning and 10 races + a medal race (same day) would be no problem.
I just spoke to the manufacturing facility of windsurfers for most of the world.
While they are not at liberty to comment on exact numbers, they were willing to say that for longboards, the hype is not matched by the volume; even as of now, the total number of longboards is far less than the number of SUPs, and that they cannot foresee that the longboards will increase significantly unless the weight issue can be resolved.
I specifically asked about the longboard Kona claimed to be the world's biggest selling board model/type, and they said under no circumstances could they see that such a claim could be supported.
I remain not entirely convinced that formula is the single best format for the windsurfer at the olympics and I agree with (presumably) C249 that more research is required. However, I certainly don't think that the RSX or longboards are a better solution. I do know that even 2-3 years ago, the trial formula boards that Starboard were working on planed up unbelievelably early; and presume they are even more early now.
With regards to shortboard racing, the total number of racers in Le Defi type events (almost all shortboards) is something like 600. Add in a few more slalom events (and formula is a shortboard of sorts similar to the larger slalom boards) and I think it would be tough to see how longboarding could be more popular, but it is a number we need to see.
I presume starboard must look at their longboard numbers (as do all the brands except possibly Kona) and roll their eyes at the amount of work put in vs units sold. They took their longboard development very very seriously for several years and probably still do.
Rather than tooing and froing about matching gear to location it beats me why sailing can not have its own Olympic venue separated in time and place from the track and field venues. That is what the snow sports do so well. In this way we get to see fast action and presumably far better TV coverage (like close to zero normally here in Australia under the present arrangements). But I suppose the governing committee of such things won't want to do any such thing.
actually they already do, in China the main events were in Beijing; sailing was miles away; ditto for Korea.
I guess the only issue is should windsurfing be away from the rest of the sailing classes?
Everyone wants wind, just a matter of ISAF actually representing the interests of the sailing community by pushing for higher wind spots rather than accepting low wind spots.
That said, LA and Greece were drifters, and Korea and China both had decent breeze (despite the forecasts).
Greece was probably one of the worst spectacles for windsurfing in that last race (held in like 1 knot), but every since Olympics since LA (and I would have to check) has had enough wind to race formula OD and fit in 8 races.
After all theoretically both tornado and 49er have a 6 knot minimum also AFAIK.
To be honest, other than the carnage of the 49ers on TV, we didn't get much here either (Thailand). Sailing remains somewhat of a niche sport, not helped by the air rowing antics in Greece which just looks wrong (although completely part of the game and reflective of the fitness required in one of the most athletic sports inthe games).
Interesting, poster at 2.29 - Kip?
I too was surprised at the fairly low number of Kona Ones that Patrice claimed on the net, after the claim about Kona being the top selling board was made. He spoke of some 2-3,000 over about three years compared to FW's official figure of 1,000 per year, and IMHO it's the only real mass market board around; Serenitys and RBs are surely only a minority interest. However, as we both agree until figures are available, all windsurfers are at the mercy of marketing talk whichever way we look. If the figure of 80,000 in total p.a. is correct and there's a few dozen different boards.....
I don't know about how much hype longboards have actually had - there's not all that much of the SB site, for example, and look at the huge amount of hype for other disciplines!
About weight....well, as I've said before all is relative, your S 6.5 is superlight by some standards and bloody heavy from the viewpoint of a sailor of a 18" shorter Sharpie! If boardsailers cannot lift an 18kg board when sea kayaking old age pensioners lift 28kg sea kayaks then surely we've lost the macho and extreme contest! :-)
I'm not actually in favour of the RSX in any way, apart from the fact that there are many national authorities who are scratching for cash and do not want to have to try to build an entire new class (which may or may not work where they are) just to cater for the wishes of a few people. And frankly, I got sick of dung being flung at longboards when IMCO was in..... wouldn't want to go back there unless it was as half of a F42 style setup.
Re numbers - the official FW class reports to ISAF shows numbers that are all over the place, and for several years the class could not even guess at the numbers built - so how accurate are their guesses? They said in 08 there's 5000 boards existing, although considering that for two years the class reported that 5,000 were built each year, and there were no estimates for three years around that time, god knows how accurate the estimate is!
Neither the FW or Funboard classes report more than "50+" sailors in their ISAF reports, whereas even IMCO lists more than that.......all that seems to indicate is how rubbery all the figures are.
As far as Defi Wind etc goes - as far as I can make out, Defi is included in the "Longue Distance" windsurfer rankings in the FFV (French national federation). The Long distance ranking list includes 670 men and 71 women. Raceboard includes 328 men and 94 women, Formula 111 men and 12 women. So yes, slalom does get more people than raceboard, but it also gets more than FW.
Whether there are regular slalom racers in many other countries is another story entirely; here in Oz there's one big slalom race but I think that's it. Are there any big slalom races in the USA? I understand there's none in Germany. It's not huge in the UK, apparently. And how do you equate 200+ guys who each do about 1 race per year compared to 140 guys who each do about 120 races per year, or 55 guys who do 50+ races per year????
Hell, I love slalom and I reckon it should be in the Games if practical, so I'm just agreeing that unless we get some decent numbers to see where our sport is, how can one class claim to know what all the world's racers want to see in the Games?
Phillip - the location of the sailing is a decision of the host city, I believe. As Kip pointed out, sailing is normally at a different location - look at when the main games were in Beijing, Atlanta, Montreal, Tokyo, London, Berlin, Athens, Mexico City, Moscow, Montreal, etc etc etc.
And looking better on TV is not a major plus for sailing - even if we got something like (if my memory of reading the last IOC Olympic Programme Commission report is correct) 12 times as much TV as we currently get, sailing as a whole would get less TV than softball or baseball which have both been dumped from the Games.
When surfing, rugby, baseball, softball etc cannot get or stay in the Games, how much right does a minor section of sailing have to dictate terms?
That should have read that the Kona One is the only mass market LONGboard around...
c249 and post #7 make sound comments about venues - sailing overall it is true is a niche sport and WS within that, and as you point out wind can and will deliver (or not) the unexpected. All of which of course complicates equipment selection for the Games. Since the equipment may or may not be what the average sailor uses (indeed if there is an 'average' user anyway) it may come down to what the Olympic level athletes prefer - I wonder whether there have been any surveys of past, present and feeder groups.
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