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Old 21st June 2011, 08:38 PM   #41
Ken
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Another thing that is killing formula is the PWA. Someone can help me out here with any facts that I may be missing or have wrong.

At one time, almost all the top sailors in the world were racing formula (I don't think the PWA was sponsoring formula at that time). Their web site doesn't provide any history.

I am guessing, but it seems logical that the PWA needs sponsorship money, sponsors need spectators and spectators don't want to watch formula (too far off shore to see anything). Freestyle, waves, slalom (near shore), super X and indoor were the call for the PWA. This does make sense because the events offer spectator appeal.

Lots of windsurfers want to do what the pros do, plus there is the potential to test yourself with the PWA's top sailors if your skills advance to that point where you can become a PWA racer. However, I fear that it's a tough way to make a living for most of the guys on the tour. Freestyle is now hot, slalom is hot, waves have always been hot, formula is cool. That's the way the wind blows.
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Old 22nd June 2011, 07:16 AM   #42
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It has been fun following this thread. All I can add is location, location, location. Like real-estate, formula appears to be driven by location here in the US. Florida, San Diego & the S.F. Bray area are the 3 places that I know of with strong formula fleets. So what do they have in common that keeps formula popular? Obviously not the same type of wind.

In my opinion formula is very good for long reaches in any direction. Formula is not good if you have to do lots of sail handling like in tacks & jibes in my opinion. I think up hauling, water starting, tacking & jibing 10+ meter sails becomes too much work for the average freeride sailor which is why most prefer large freeride boards with 8-9 meter sails. Also, doing a 180 degree turn with a formula board can be uneventful.

But once up & running the big sail can become light & easy to handle which is why I think it is great for long reaches. Formula offers you the ability to explore that can't be matched by any other windsurfing kit. A 20 minute upwind sail by freeride gear is only a couple of minutes on formula.

So what does Florida, San Diego & S.F. have in common? Lots of open water! Places to go. Why should one need to learn to sail a big sail in F4? Because in S.F. it may be F2 where I launch in Berkeley but F4 @ Alcatraz. Racing in the bay gives us the skills to explore the bay.

Is formula expensive? Not here because of the large racing fleet & the fact that the top sailors turn over their gear every year. Many sailors racing @ the nationals didn't want to take their gear home so they dumped it for a song. I bought a 2010 Exocet for $1200 from a team rider. No damage & only used 7 times. A guy that finished 3rd was selling a whole kit for $1800.

So like I said at the start. Location, location, location. Here, formula fits. Besides, if I sat & drank beer on F3 or lighter days I'd get fat.

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Old 22nd June 2011, 08:28 AM   #43
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Think I'll leave the previous comments on this thread where they are... but just to reply to your PWA comments Ken and share a bit of history of Formula/PWA for those interested:

Yes, a lot of the top sailors were racing formula. Many actually still do, although only at major events like the World Championships or the National Championships in their respective countries. The list of people who still actively compete in Formula (including both who 'follow' the FW tour and those who just rock up at the Worlds) and also do the PWA includes Steve Allen, Antoine Albeau, Micah Buzianis, Peter Bijl (he’s back after a few years with visa issues keeping him from the tour), Arnon Dagan, Ross Williams, Alberto Menegatti, Kurosh Kiani, Andrea Cucchi, Wojtek Brzozowski, myself … there is more, but those are the ones I can think of who regularly do PWA events. I don’t think the number of top pro’s doing formula has declined by more than 10 in the last few years, but certainly there is more growth in ‘new’ faces appearing on the PWA than there is in the top level in formula which I think gives a skewed impression of the status of the class in the past few seasons.

The PWA didn’t really ‘sponsor’ Formula per say… Formula has been its own independent class for over 10 years, however for two seasons around 2005-06 the PWA incorporated formula events on the tour. It was actually quite successful despite a few events in Hungary and other places that had almost no wind, however during this time the PWA was starting to lose sponsorship money for the tour overall and they decided to restructure and re-design the entire tour concept, in a way to make it more marketable for new media opportunities like ‘live-coverage’ etc.

To do this they cut a lot of things. They cut formula and they cut Super-X and gave up trying to secure indoor pool events. So Formula wasn’t ditched for popularity declining reasons or anything, far from it… it was simply a business decision to make the tour more compact and easier to market to increase the viability of media coverage for the tour. The ‘spectator’ argument for windsurfing is still really strange to me… there is only 2-3 events in the world where you actually get spectators (Sylt, Fuerteventura and any event in Poland). I think this year in Korea for the PWA we had about 8 people on the beach. Don’t know why people bother chasing spectators… this is not football.

In some ways, formula leaving the PWA is good for everyone else because it would drastically reduce the amount of people able to do the tour if it remained part of the PWA. You have to qualify to get on the PWA tour (or apply for wildcards which are voted on by a committee for entry) and entry numbers are restricted; so only the top guys could race. The drawcard of formula for many people is the opportunity to get on a race course with Antoine Albeau or Steve Allen or the top pro’s in the world. You can’t do that in PWA.

Right now, the industry doesn’t really support formula in the same way it does the PWA. Starboard does a great job sponsoring riders on the formula tour and giving a great platform for news coverage of formula events, however I don’t see too many other brands doing this (apart from maybe NP). I don’t think this is necessarily the brands’ fault, they need a return on investment and I don’t think at the moment the formula class provides as great a return as the PWA does in terms of the things brands like to see (magazine articles, great photos, brand exposure, FB talk from all the riders). Formula has always been a ‘participation’ class with the great hook that EVERYONE can compete with the pros on the international scene and is also doing a lot to support the grassroots of the sport by supporting National events etc. The PWA does nothing outside of the PWA. I think the formula class has to restructure itself a little in the same vein as the PWA did a few years ago to increase its media profile and hopefully reignite the industry’s support of the class. I am trying to push a lot of this stuff myself… also there is some new rule change submission we will vote on at the formula class AGM in Puerto Rico in 2 weeks that may help.

Sorry about the long post but I thought the history might be interesting for some! I don’t know whether anything I’ve just written are reasons why/why not the formula class is being perceived that its declining. From what I’ve seen in all my travels, its declining in some areas (the UK being the example cited here) but in other places its actually starting to increase in popularity (Australia and Greece are some places I know this to be true). I think that’s just the windsurfing industry in general … not so much specific to a class.

PS. I have only had an 11m as my smallest sail in the past 2 years and regularly take it out in 30 knots. Haha. I kind of like the feeling when you go downwind and at any moment you could die. Literally.
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Old 22nd June 2011, 10:57 AM   #44
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AUS120,

Can you share a little about the rules change that is going to be voted?
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Old 22nd June 2011, 10:59 PM   #45
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Sean,

Thanks for the PWA / Formula history lesson. I know some of the PWA guys still sail formula, but the events seem far and few between. The average windsurfer doesn't hear about formula racing anymore unless you search the web to see what is happening.

Although the racing has declined to just a very few events state wide in Texas, they all include a formula class, and the number of formula sailors stays pretty stable. It's a good kit to have when the the winds go light.

I admire the skill it takes to hang on to an 11 meter or even a 9 meter in 30 knots, and I know the "death wish" feeling of running downwind fast in big chop. However, I do my best to stay in control, even if I have to go to an embarrassingly small sail, or even skip some races if necessary. When the fun factor is replaced by the fear factor, I drop out or race slalom instead.
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Old 24th June 2011, 07:41 AM   #46
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Ken: "The average windsurfer doesn't hear about formula racing anymore unless you search the web to see what is happening."

EXACTLY. To me that's the main thing the formula class needs to change. We just don't hear about it. But to hear about things, you need to build the platform for the news to be spread... I think the FW class needs to do a MUCH better job of media coverage during the events, a much better job at giving the sailors access to the media (hi-res photos and videos that they can send to their own sponsors, the magazines back home and spread on FB etc) and it also has to somehow build a platform that 'National' news can be housed somewhere, not just only the international events.

Rather than sit here and whinge about it, I'm putting my hand up to do something about it. There is a new website for the class being launched at 'some point soon' (not sure exactly when) which I'm trying to push to cover these areas just mentioned.

The rule change I submitted was to reduce the sails to 2 rather than 3 during an event. There are also submissions from others to reduce the fins to 2 and also to push brands to make their sails coloured, rather than clear monofilm so we can actually be SEEN out on the water. I won't go in to too much detail on each of these submissions as there will be details on FW.org soon, but I feel like all of them lean towards making the sport easier, more compact to travel and 'simpler' to market so that the box-concept of the class can be better explained to media during events etc etc.

Email me if you'd like more details ;-)

@Ken you don't think hi-wind slalom is just as scary as hi-wind formula? I find formula a bit safer than sailing maxed-out on 5.5m in choppy conditions! haha.
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Old 24th June 2011, 03:38 PM   #47
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I dont understand why some people have to sell or promote the discipline thay are invoved with ??
Fair enough organise an event a race or something but this craze some enjoy of over promoting / trying to get new sailors involved baffles me.

They then seem justifiede in moaning when the numbers they expected dont materialise. Formula is dying out (in UK) for a reason.Big deal. Unless of course you have 50 or so boards to sell ?????

And
I`m posting because somebody mentioned Leucate. I live there.Its 10 knots or so today. No formula in sight.We hardly ever get easterly . When tromonatane blows (upto 40 knots generally , Id guess once a fortnight on average) there are thousands of sailors betweeen Racou and Franqui; hundreds on the Etangs and perhaps 5 Formula sailors who leave their kit at home untill a race is organised for them !!!
Which answers problem. Formula (lie all racing disciplines) needs smebody to organise; somebody to lay course; somebody to man rescue craft etc etc. Thats why ts dying everywhere !! It does not and never has represented the sailing going on. Overall its a tiny and diminishing percentage of sailors but they tend to be the vocal ones informing us all on websites. Thanks but no thanks.

11 metre sails in 25 knots on metre wide boards is plain crazy !!!
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Old 24th June 2011, 05:31 PM   #48
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the proposal to reduce the number of sails in FW is plain crazy without a corresponding lowering of the maximum sail size or a limitation on the upper or lower wind strength sailed in.
It will reduce participation not increase it and make it more elite.

If you really want to increase the number sailing FW then reduce the maximum sail size and change the courses sailed. If you get rid of very deep runs( or at least reduce their frequency), you will no longer need huge sails and correspondingly huge masts and booms. The large rigs are a fundamental barrier to participation.

the "growth" of FW in some areas hides the fact that FW is not widely popular or easy to get into. The growth can be attributed to people wanting to race windsurfers more than it can be attributed to people wanting to race FW. If you had a class with easier entry routes and more useable equipment it is likely that the growth of that class would be much more than FW.

The problem, as ever, is a lack of vision of what could be and thus a lack of any direction and a general thrashing about and tinkering with things that wont make a difference( 2 or 3 sails, coloured sails? i mean really?) rather than fundamental vision, direction and recognition of reality.
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Old 24th June 2011, 05:39 PM   #49
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I agree that 11m2 in 25 knots is crazy, but ok if they like it, why not.

I disagree that you hardly ever get eastern wind in Leucate.
Each time I've been in Leucate, it was about 50-50.
3 days Tramontana, 3 days wind from the east. You see this pattern recur very often.
Eastern wind is great for FW.

But I understand that when you live in Leucate, you probably are only interested in Tramontana.
You are lucky to get enough of it.

It brings us back to the very good conclusion of COACHG. It's all about location and in my case TIME.
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Old 24th June 2011, 09:29 PM   #50
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Ok, maybe its better I explain the rule changes and the 'vision'... hehe.

Everything I mentioned is part of a vision to try to restructure the state of 'international' formula racing. Yes, there are other aspects of the sport but a lot of them are out of my hands so I'm sticking to what I know which is the top level of the formula pyramid. A lot of the things I suggested are part of an idea to increase the media viability of the sport in general. Will that help participation? Probably not directly at all. Will that ignite some interest from the brands to better promote/push formula? Yes, absolutely.

Imagine with the brands more directly involved, there could be more formula news in magazines, online, on the riders/brands social media etc; basically everything that already exists quite well for other windsurfing disciplines. I'm not completely interested in "participation" as a means of measuring a sport's success. I know formula is going to be a niche class inside of windsurfing as a whole, and even if the participation tripled, it would still be a small niche compared to slalom or just general freeriding. But it is still the only professional course-racing class there is... and I still believe that to be an important part of windsurfing. I think with better push from the brands, media, sailors themselves and a general ‘overhaul’ of the class’ website and branding – there could be a bit more done to increase the ‘desire’ of people wanting to try the sport. If you want to increase participation, you need to make people want to desire to do the sport. The actual participation increase is more so looked after by windsurfing clubs, local/national events etc and the grassroots of the sport. Changing anything on the international scale won’t help too much I think.
Back to the rule changes….

Quote:
If you get rid of very deep runs( or at least reduce their frequency), you will no longer need huge sails and correspondingly huge masts and booms
We will likely never get rid of deep runs in the courses, as that's mostly the point of formula, however the 2 sail rule I suggested has the EXACT intention of reducing the size of gear, the cost of entry and the amount of gear you need (which further reduces cost of entry). Imagine this goes ahead and with 6-months development up the brand's sleeve there is time to change the sizes for FW. For example if brands were able to develop sizes in the 11.5, 10.5 bracket, it would mean you no longer need these horrific 570/580 masts (granted, some brands have already built 12m's on smaller masts but with +50cm extensions which is just as bad I believe) to cover the sails... you could have 2 sails built on a SMALLER mast and also a SMALLER boom. The smaller boom being a 225-275cm equivalent which a lot of us have already for our big slalom sizes. One boom, one mast, 2 sails... perfect combo for all conditions. It should also help the guys who travel to events by plane... there's a ton of us only bringing 1/2 sails to the Worlds because the excess is too much (I am only bringing one sail!).

The sail colour change: That wasn’t my suggestion but I do support it. I’ve been to a lot of events where we might be on the same beach as a Laser or 470 event etc. You watch 40 Lasers go out and race and 60 formula guys afterwards… on the same stretch of water the Laser event looks bigger. White sails; pure and simple. You can spot them a MILE away. All the windsurfing sails are clear, bar a few, and you just can’t see them on the water. It’s almost like we went out of our way to make windsurfing invisible in the last few years… Then some guy comes out on a Mistal OneDesign during the formula and he’s the only guy you can spot on the water! Case in point.

The colour change is just a ‘suggestion’. Nearly all the brands already do this with their freeride sails but have traditionally kept the race sails super light. We’ve figured out you can get coloured monofilm at the same weight as clear now, so maybe its time to politely push the brands to make us more visible as a sport no?

Still not sure about the ‘easier entry routes’ problem. Formula still seems super easy to me… especially when we have established feeder classes in most countries like BIC and RSX. Get a kid to jump off an RSX and formula is the easiest thing the world. Jumping from a 7.8m BIC sail to a 9.0m formula sail is actually not such a massive leap for a 14-15 yo. We have had no trouble converting RSX kids to formula in Australia as most of them usually can sell their RSX and buy a decent second-hand formula setup with change left over (maybe not the fin though!).
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