RE: Stop Formula XXL Sails!
Although I'm not a racer, I think that ThierryP has made some insightful points above. Limits of sorts have led to technological/performance developments that have ultimately filtered down to the general public. While I think that many restrictions in car racing have been implemented to promote safety, others were undoubtedly used to narrow the field to encourage more equal competition. All in all, rules and limits have worked well to level the playing field.
Yet, are rules and limits always advisable or productive? In windsurfing, like in many specialized sports, the physical characteristics of the participants has a significant influence on the nature of the competition and the final results. On top of that, age kind of always finds its way of affecting the balance too. Even the best performer eventually has to deal with the impact of age. So, to level the playing field and encourage participation amongst the broadest spectrum of possible participants, weight and age classes have been used successfully to achieve these goals. Notwithstanding the categorization strategies to fairly balance competition, there remains the pro class to define the highest level of competition.
In thinking about all the different forms of racing competition, I think that there should be a few formats targeting and promoting "all out" competition. For pro level formula racing, I find it hard to argue for eliminating 12 to 12.5m sails. Like some have noted above, these jumbo sails offer a valuable performance asset. Off hand, it can be argued that these larger sails stack the deck against the lighter weight participants to some degree, but if they were taken away, bigger sailors would be dealt a clear liability. In my opinion, there is nothing holding back sail designers from developing more powerful smaller sails to improve the performance capabilities of their smaller/lighter weight sailors. However, it must be remembered that sponsered sailors with all the prime physical and mental attributes are truly going to get the focus and attention, and they will ultimately define the sensible limits.
Yet, as discovered in 2005, there can be certain technological limits in the equipment that affects the viability of everything. So when 12 to 12.5 sails became super questionable because of sketchy masts that weren't up for the job, folks started to think differently. Now things are at the fork in the road. Some have abandoned the jumbo sizes, whereas others have not. I think that what we will see is improvement on either side of fence. If one path proves superior overall in a competitive environment, the direction will be clear. Patience is needed at this point to allow things to naturally evolve. A forced decision isn't an imperative right now, at least at the highest level of competition.