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Old 15th September 2008, 03:07 PM   #1
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Default Formula One Design

Hey Check out the latest Statement from Svein on the Formula One Design

Dear all.

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.

Svein Rasmussen
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Old 16th September 2008, 04:01 PM   #2
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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?
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Old 16th September 2008, 07:09 PM   #3
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Hi guys,
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.
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Old 17th September 2008, 01:10 AM   #4
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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.
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Old 17th September 2008, 09:29 AM   #5
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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.
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Old 17th September 2008, 10:40 AM   #6
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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.
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Old 18th September 2008, 07:47 AM   #7
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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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Old 19th September 2008, 07:03 PM   #8
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Default 500000 to 40000 ...

in 1984 close to 500000 Boards were sold in the year...
Now we are around 40000, twelve time less...
More precise: yearly sales figures from the french market:
1984: 80000 board sold
1998: 20000 sold (the daggerboard-boards were starting to disapear from the offer of most of the brands, and they were ignored by all the magazines for the last 10 years: "daggerboard = beginner without talent")
2004: 11640 sold
2005: 14342 sold, (+25%!!!) mostly because the willing to offer more easy boards like the tecno 283 and 293 and the OD hybrids with...a daggerboard (shame!)

To be point out: the same year 2005, only 151 extreme boards (Formula AND wave) were sold!

That is the point: in the last years of 80, and until now, all the magazines are promoting only the extreme boards and practice (less than 5% of the sales), and ignoring the other practice (95% of the market).
Absolutly discouraging...
It is the human default to be a predator: when the concept of only-planning board appeared, it was not sufficiant to have new form of practices (slalom, speed and waves): the previous one must be killed!

No care for the mass of customers who just want to sail, or race, or enjoy "the all wind and going everywhere (upwind, downwind, etc) practice", or live in a little wind area, or have to get in water in a deap bay, with the wind blowing half a mile away, or living inshore and practicing on lakes, etc etc... all this stupid mass who count for more than 90% of the market!

Now the discussion is about having the Olympic Games on Formulas, (less than 151 sold in France (take it as a panel) out of 14342 boards sold : 1%!).

If we speak of media interest, what will be more popular: a spectacular (if windy enough) Formula olympic class, spectacular, but practiced by few hundreds through the world; or a (said) not spectacular longboard (Kona or other), but practiced by hundreds of thousands (in the 80's) through the world?

If the willing to kill the popular practice was not amplified year after year by all the magazines, we would be millions on water... sailing longboards 380 to 330cm with daggerboards, any day, windy or not, AND anywhere!

And the concept of the next OG boards would not be such a discussion!

Sailing a longboard is still the first in number practiced, despite the zero promotion of the concept, despite the poor quality of the production, despite the close to zero event offered to the concept, and if any, without media coverage!

Promoting the Formula as the only (why not two concepts: longboard and shortboard?) Olympic game wind-surf board is just one more step to kill the industry.

Sorry for my bad english!
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Old 19th September 2008, 11:42 PM   #9
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I find all this gloom and doom stuff about traditional raceboard sailing getting left on the corner and abandoned in the vision for the 2012 Olympic Games a bit overly dramatic. When you look back, raceboards and their like, including the hybrid RS-X, have had all the time in the sun at past Olympics. Why not inject a bit of change in the Olympics by embracing a planing design for once? I seriously doubt that such an opportunity would be the death of windsurfing or the industry. Why not be more positive and supportive?

Regarding the time in the past when windsurfing was a huge fad, and the number of folks participating was at an all time high, things ultimately come back down to earth and center on those most interested in the sport. All those with a shallow interest and commitment just can't be relied on. Certainly this predictable drop to reality leaves less folks participating, but it's more reflective overall of the actual core interest in the sport. It's very important to remember that folks over time will enter and exit the sport, with those that are truly dedicated hanging in for the long haul.

The doors are currently wide open to all types of windsurfing opportunities, bridging a broad spectrum of ideas and forms of what the sport can be. Folks get involved because they see the vision and want to participate, and as I see it, nobody is being held back and denied access. The one thing that you can't do is force folks to windsurf.
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Old 20th September 2008, 03:24 PM   #10
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Steve, an RSX (and it's not a board I personally like at all) planes. It jumps, hits 30 knots +...of course it planes. You cannot do that in a 10 footer at displacement speed.

That's the weird thing about this term "planing board". It's inherently untruthful, because just about every board ever built (including D2s) planes.

So you ask "why not be more positive and supportive"? Well, look at the negative arguments the FOD supporters use.

The FOD bid says that "racers" want planing boards - that is (as far as I can see, and the FOD supporters have not come up with a shred of evidence for their view) negative to existing Olympic boards because it says "racers" don't want them.

Look at KP's blog - he says it's time for a "real windsurfer" in the Games, meaning FOD. Sorry, is he suggesting that he and his mates have the right to re-christen RSXs, IMCOs and other windsurfers? It's a silly argument anyway, because the term "windsurfing" comes from longboards.....those who feel the 'planing boards' are a different sport can get their own name for the sport, like boardsailing.

We don't have to all be positive and supportive of those who are themselves so negative and anti other disciplines that they say they are not even part of the sport.

If shortboarders were positive and supportive of other styles, that would be great. They are not so it's hypocritical for them to demand that of others.

The oft-quoted argument "it was all just a fad" was addressed at the SB dealer meeting onk the west coast of the USA, according to a SUP site, where Svein said that windsurfing had dropped much more than other sports normally do after an initial boom.

The doors are NOT wide open to all sorts of windsurfing opportunities when sailors sponsored by a major manufacturer are saying of other disciplines that they are not "real windsurfing". KP is sponsored because he is influential, and he is using that influencing to say that hybrids (not a board I like myself) are not even part of the sport.

The doors are NOT wide open when a major manufacturer is saying "racers" want a particular type of board in the Games, when most racers appear not to sail that type of board and the manufacturer has produced no evidence.
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