|22nd September 2008, 01:17 AM||#21|
Join Date: Aug 2006
When it comes to mixing and matching the sailors and the equipment, I doubt that that outcome can be especially meaningful. I would venture to say that if you took a leading RS-X sailors and put them FW gear, they might not do as well in the final race standings either. That wouldn't surprise me because so much is wrapped up in the equipment itself, and particularly type of conditions involved. As we can note in so many sports today, participant are often specialists that excel in what they do best. I think some of the best examples can be seen in snow skiing, auto racing and track and field events.
I think it's quite important to clarify one point here. I wouldn't even want to begin to imply that past Olympian windsurfers are inferior sailors, because that makes no sense at all. However, in reference to the equipment being used, it could be argued that stuff is less than optimum, and it might even be considered inferior. I don't think that the RS-X kit is state of the art by any means, and I would have a hard time believing that folks would buy the rig if it wasn't chosen as the OD for the 2008 Olympics. If RS-X isn't selected for the 2012 games, I'm fairly confident that it would simply fade away.
The thing about FOD that's so interesting is that it's much simplier, lighter and less costly rig overall. Now, there's no argument that it's less sophisticated as the top of the line FW stuff, but it's not that far removed in concept and practice. What's worthy of note is that FE, FW and the proposed FOD designs share the same general concept, thereby permitting a broad growth path and commonality for interested racers at different levels. On top of all this, I really like the idea of bumping up the wind minimum for racing to more sufficiently bring it into the realm of a planing competition. To me windsurfing is about planing, and would like to see the Olympic version more oriented in that direction. Quite frankly, I don't think that the idea of Olympic windsurfing being just a stand up version of other sailing craft is where we want to be. Notwithstanding my interests for a FOD Olympics, I'm not trying to put down the realm of the raceboard and it's place in the scheme of things. Many folks are attracted more to the raceboard design and the idea of sailing in more traditional yachting concepts, and I think that type of racing should be encouraged too in the sport. Not all locales benefit from planing wind conditions. If the long term strength of the raceboard proves to be the best overall, I'm sure that it may again be a solid choice in a future Olympics (beyond 2012), particularly if it is held in an extremely lightwind venue.
|22nd September 2008, 11:08 AM||#22|
I think the numbers that C249 has presented require understanding.
However, I would guess that if you took out the national organisations and looked at grass roots i.e. not the boards where the government is paying for everything but where individuals decide what to race and so forth, then you would find Formula and slalom to reign supreme in many parts of the world. In the UK I have not seen too many of the board ads where it appears that you can even buy a longboard, but perhaps that is one part of the world (and many of the non planing areas would presumably be similar) where longboards reign supreme.
Here, the IMCOs and RSXs all belong to the Windsurfing Assocation of Thailand; there are some that are personally owned, but they are basically never really used except for 1 board that I can think of. And I am fairly sure the young guy sailing that really wants an RSX.
By comparison, formula boards are basically all owned by individuals and bought and paid for; there have been some formula experience boards donated by starboard in the past, and those racers use FE but the queue is long enough that the spill over are still sailing race boards. So that would put slalom/formula with about probably 50 boards, and longboards at zero/five at the max (assuming there is someone I don't know about).
I know there is a raceboard worlds, but now that IMCO is not the olympic board, that seems to have fallen away to the point that I don't think WAT would ever consider hosting it. I don't think any of the Thai racers have ever considered to go and race in raceboards now that IMCO isn't part of that; the Olympic guys just go out and train RSX non stop.
We cannot really judge on numbers alone since, as you pointed out yourself Chris a person could be ranked on the basis of racing once, or could be doing racing every weekend.
The number we really need is total number of racers and races competed in for each discipline removing all youth/national organisation board provided events, and that will give us the actual true number of racers in each class.
We need to remove the boards provided ones (e.g. all RSX numbers) since whatever the class at an olympic level, this is the board that people will use.
We all know that the Olympics insists basically on OD no matter how inappropriate such a format is for a sport like windsurfing, so there is little point in debating the merits of having a truly open environment, since in addition there is not a single class in the world that operates truly open; they all need restrictions hence the name box rule.
Regarding who the best sailors are, I have no doubt that Tom Ashley would reign supreme no matter what board you stick him on; he is interested in racing olympic, so that currently puts him on a board that basically no one outside of RSX racers knows much about.
The question really, is whether what the majority of windsurfers do (which we can safely assume to be sailing planing shortboards back and forth, based on industry sales, numbers of participants in the sport at most locations, based on forum posters) has any relevance at all to the olympic class.
Most of my friends say no, and don't even know who won.
Whether this would change at all with Formula, I am not sure; most of them know all the formula guys via slalom/pro racing/wave stuff, but don't follow formula either. Certainly just superficially formula has more in common with the shortboard scene than the longboards; the focus on planing, same sail/fin/board set up (albeit a lot bigger) - however courses are wildly different to slalom and B&F style sailing.
Triangle courses are being eliminated left right and centre in almost all classes; for a downwind planing craft (both RSX and formula) it makes more sense to introduce the tactical aspect of either trapezoid or windward-leewards with split gybes, etc etc than the procession encouraged by triangle course. That is current thinking anyhow.
For all the hype on longboards, the reality is that they ARE available now, Kona has pushed about as hard as any single board category can do so, and yet we don't see that 4 out of 5 windsurfers who alledgedly quit windsurfing because of the evil shortboard conspiracy reappearing.
Let's face it, windsurfing was a popular fad, and now it is down to the core. No single magical pill exists to bring back the 80% from the peak days; right now that 80% can watch TV, drink beer, snowboard, kiteboard, body board, etc etc. It will take a bunch of small initiatives to get the numbers back....however to date I've seen quite a bit of marketing for the Serenity, Star-board now have the longboards for their dealer network to try every dealer conference, there is the Kona supported by a huge amount of marketing, many attempts to create longboards for the masses in design from almost every manufacturer....and as said earlier, it is mighty hard to create a board that is twice as big as a standard board which requires that complex centrecase/sliding rig track arrangement , which still has the big rig similar to the bigger freeride gear, that the dealer networks don't necessarily have faith will be popular....at anywhere near the cost and ease to sale as the non race market.
If it were so easy to create a longboard people would like to sail.....every brand is trying to do it....we would have seen it by now. Instead all I've seen to date are boards that are just a lot more work than simply yanking out a formula board and blasting around; the entire formula set up (rig, board, fin) is still lighter than some of the longboards board alone. But since I am not the Olympic market, I am not sure how relevant this is.
The best of the longboards I have tried is not bad, and quite enjoyable to sail; would be worth it to buy to race I think. But there would be a big gap between that board (one of the phantom 380s) and any of the other ones I've tried, the rest weren't fun (for me) to sail so to hear someone tell me the reason why I don't have a longboard is due to the marketing of the industry makes me feel fairly stupid. I've tried both, and I simply didn't like most of the longboards. The sales numbers suggest I am certainly not alone.
however, at an Olympic level, none of that matters. So I think they should go and ask a panel of past Olympians and pro sailors what they would like to compete on. ideally not using a manufactured class like the RSX which everyone seems to agree is going to die the day it is no longer an Olympic class.
|22nd September 2008, 05:29 PM||#23|
Kip/unregistered, of course you're not stupid because of the boards you happen to like. Really, the entire underlying point that some of us are trying to highlight is that no one should diss anyone's choice of board - that's why comments like the one that the RS isn't "real windsurfing" are annoying to some of us.
Loads of people are in the same position as you are - they love just shortboards. That's great; some of us are just against the people who try to denigrate the choice others make.
Sure, at your beach everyone sails shortboards; at mine, everyone sail longboards. Evidence about our own beach is surely pretty worthless, because it varies so much..... so let's let you sail what you want, let me sail what I want, and let's stop people saying that what other people sail is "not 'real windsurfing" and let's stop people saying that racers want a certain sort of board that most of them choose not to sail. All we're saying is let's stop dissing other people's choice, as has happened in the past (documented fact) and is still happening, like when people say a certain board is "not real windsurfing".
About the "supplied boards" point; with respect, have you got any evidence that anyone in the UK or France or the USA or Germany is giving many RSXs or T293s away?? I can find no such evidence on the RYA or T293 sites. It seems very odd that windsurfing alone would get such treatment and a significant proportion of the RYA, FFV DSV budget. If you have some evidence, please post it. If you don't, let's dismiss the point.
"The number we really need is total number of racers and races competed in for each discipline removing all youth/national organisation board provided events, and that will give us the actual true number of racers in each class."
Ok, there is NO evidence that the UK had any provided boards apart from Konas (5?). One would assume FW boards were provided. So that doesn't change things.
Australia had 5 provided boards in those rankings....so that doesn't change things.
No one's ever said that there was an evil conspiracy against longboards, but there's a good case that the industry tried to push high-wind sailing in a short-term effort to keep the bottom line looking good - and that's what people like Barry Spanier, , or that a trend of 20 year would be turned around in 3. If we believe the reported comments of Svein at the West COast USA dealers meeting, then Svien himself says that windsurfing dropped off much more than other sports.
About the explanation "it was all just a fad"....isn't that too simple an explanation in some ways? It could be used no matter what the industry had done.... If it has some sort of basis, please explain. If not, it's surely just not really an explanation. If that is the simple explanation, can you show us other sports that have dropped so much? If not, why not?
"Right now that 80% can watch TV, drink beer, snowboard, kiteboard, body board, etc etc."
They could drink beer, watch TV in the '80s. The growth of the simple sport of bodyboarding and the light-wind sport that kiting can be surely are not proof that windsurfing's high-wind accent was right.
The "longboard hype" is certainly much less than the 'shortboard hype'; look at any manufacturer's site apart from Kona. And unless (and it's possible) Pono Bill's site mis-quoted Svein, Svein also thinks concentrating too much on shortboards hurt the sport.
In this thread, one side has presented verbatim quotes from a top sailor. One side has presented actual numbers from official sources (UKWA, DSV, FFV etc) than can be verified. The other side hasn't presented a single figure or fact....... which is more objective?
Steve - good post.
Sure, the Olympic gear hasn't been great. When it comes to supporting classes, the current hybrid (and I've never liked mid-length boards myself) has a huge supporting class in the T293 - vastly bigger than the FE supporting class. Personally, I've never found any evidence that some sort of windsurfer racer are closer to a yachting style than others in some respects, apart from the fact that the yachties have a much stronger racing scene and therefore surely have a lot to teach us.
It's the 'yachties' who have to restrict those who can enter their world titles in many classes to avoid overcrowding; the 'yachties' who have to restrict professional sailors in many classes to avoid squeezing out keen amateurs. If the windsurfing way is so much better, why don't we have the same problems?
And the yachties don't want to change classes too often.
Hey, I'm certainly no expert and have never claimed to be, but when it comes to classes for 2012 all I can say is that looking closely at history, and looking at things like reading every country's submission for the last Games, those who have to find the cash to pay for sailors, gear and coaches rarely want to change gear each Games.
|22nd September 2008, 08:31 PM||#25|
AFAIK all RSXs are only sold to the government/agency type groups I refered to; I know that I personally am not able to buy one. Perhaps the Olympic hopefuls can.
That is the sort of group i am referring to. Every single RSX in Thailand is a handmedown from the govt, I am guessing huge numbers are in other markets also since individuals aren't allowed to buy them (at least this was the case before).
In France, large numbers of classes are the choice of this assocation or that; in fact Starboard provides a longboard to one of these organisations already. Thus, not individuals but the association decides what to buy; to date I am fairly sure that other than the serenity, very few individuals are fronting up to buy longboards from starboard, as my mate at Cobra says, for all the talk about longboards, SUPs and so on....the sales and manufacturing numbers are not there. And he's an ex longboarder same as Svein (and actually they both spend a lot of time sailing longboards themselves).
I don't know what occurs in the UK and Europe...
if these guys are indicative, it seems like starboard is making a fair bit of effort to get people to at least try longboards. And that's the root of the issue; I believe that if all that it would take to get people windsurfing now was availability and marketing of longboards...well don't we already have it? And instead, SUPs outsell longboards and that's even taking into account that much of the sales (and this is a gut call here) for longboards are not individuals but assocations and what I consider to be government groups; certainly the case here.
At the end of the day you can sail what you want, so can I - however in the Olympics the sad thing is both our styles cannot be included; it has to be one and one only. My own opinion is that Olympic campaigns are so removed from the type of windsurfing that most of us do, that the people to decide what equipment should be principally former Olympians and current racers from a variety of disciplines.
It's the same for sailing; breaks my heart to see what I consider a huge slap in the face to cat sailors; now that the tornado was eliminated even though that is more representative of all the hobie and formula 18 and papertiger sailors in the world than the Star or Yngling.
And I'm not the one slagging longboards :-) Like I said, if I was going to race and there was someone to race with, then I might be keen.
|23rd September 2008, 03:13 AM||#26|
Just for info minorca sailing are pretty much unique in loaning race kit of any kind to punters.
And I guess most peoples chance to try a longboard now is by putting a rig on their SUP ?
|23rd September 2008, 08:20 AM||#27|
NOR-1 Dream Team - President
Join Date: Aug 2006
regarding your post nr 15:
The actual situation is that there are 3 times more participants in FW:
- Numbers of competitors on World Rankings
o RS:X 218 men 46 countries 5 continents
o FW 638 43 5
o Only asia less competitors in FW then RS:X
We want to think globally when it comes to the Olympics. If the RSX class despite all its funding and medal status is not capable of gathering an interest that measures up to that of FW,
then we need to seriously reconsider what the Olympic arm of windsurfing is meant to represent: a small minority or something more?
I agree that light wind sailing is important, but we have had daggerboard boards in the Olympics since 1984 and we can view the result by looking at the participation decline.
I am up for a change for a 4 year period, and then we at least will be able to know if Formula style is more appealing to racers . The IMCO class died the day it had no more medal, indicating that there currently is not much support for light wind racing, except for people over 40 years, like myself. I love racing with daggerboards, but today I am in minority and will need to accept that until a dagggerboard class has proven to more popular than FW, and that without a medal status. Let us support the growth of the Raceboard class and its hybrid class, and see how strong that can be in 4 years. Windsurfing is in an never ending development cycle , and we may return to daggerboards in 4 or 8 years, but right now its not the case.
|23rd September 2008, 02:42 PM||#28|
thanks for the reply svein and i take your point about worldwide participation with formula and rsx.
One of the major problems ( in my view) with windsurf racing over the past few years is a lack of vision as to where we want to go and what we want to achieve and just as importantly how to get there.
In my view Formula type sailing (as a class) is a mistake for the following reasons.
1 the boards dont function in light airs. if the wind is light and shifty formula doesnt work. This effectively writes off an awful lot of inland locations throughout the year and it also means that a lot of times Formula wont get as much racing in as a daggerboard class, week in week out at a local or regional level
2 In order to function in medium airs (8Knots plus), formula requires very big sails. these sails put people off, i have heard it said that lightweights and young people can handle 10m sails....... whereas this may be true, it unfortunately is an elitist outlook, lightweights and young people of a given fitness and skill level can handle this size sail- other people cannot, and thus where is your route into the class if you are less skilled or less strong? as forumla baords with small sails are pretty poorly performing and the planing threshold is substantially raised....less racing more thumb twiddling.
3 formula is not versatile. formula type boards dont really work very well with smaller sails, and thus are not very versatile or tolerant of different abilities/ weights. for example they dont really work with 7m sails or 6m sails. They also have all sorts of problems with sailing locations with shorebreaks and/or extensive shallow water launch areas- further eroding the locations the kit can be sailed as a class..... (this could be got around by having retracting fins of course, which wold also mean FW could reach in more wind- got to be a bonus.)
4. relevance. a few years ago this was discussed in the context of longboards. It was felt that longboards had become irrelevant to the majority of windsurfers, distant and not the type of sailing " most people do". This is true of Formula also ( allthouh actually i dont think this is a particularly relevant argument- i only bring it up as it was one of the nails in the coffin when people tried to kill longboards a few years ago)
Now i also agree that RSX is a poor class, the kit is slow and poor and given a straight choice between rsx and FOD i dont see any particular advantage to either...... other than RSX at least can be raced in subplaning mode- and this itslef is enough, as the last thing you want in a class is kit that cannot be raced cos its not blowing hard enough.
The reason i think you are making a mistake is becasue you have chosen the wrong horse to back and put to isaf.
A Longboard is the board that should have been chosen to take to isaf, indeed the longbaord should never have been gotten rid of in the first place. To relate the longboard back to my above points.
1 Longboards function and perform in the full range of conditions from 3-30 knots. A good design longboard will be fast and fun in the 6-9 knot range and it will not matter if the wind fluctuates either side of this wind band as fair racing can still take place, thus openeing up inland locations to reliable racing and further meaning an extended range of conditions that racing can take place. Longbaords also plane quite happily given wind- so for those who want a planing class, its there- its just more than JUST planing.
2 Longboards do not require huge sails to work. In fact if you look at particpation levels in racing over the years you can see how every time the sail size limit went up, participation dropped. The bigger and heavier and more unwieldy a rig the less people are likely to want to do it. Longboards also work better with a range of sail sizes which brings us to --->
3 Longbaords are very versatile. Longboards can work and work well with a range of sail sizes from 5.5- 9.5. This means using the same basic board you can have kids racing with 5.5,s youths racing with 6.5,s lightweights with 7.5,s and heavyweights with 9.5's. All of a sudden you have opened up your class to a huge number of people who would be disenfranchised by a formula class. Further longoards are more tolerant and easier to launch in a variety of location such as those with a shorebreak or extended shallow water area, or a tight launch in restricted waters. they can do all this and still perfom well in locations with extensive clean wind and water. They are versatile and adaptable.
4 relevance- well looking at the racing numbers you have given and the racing particpation that i am familiar with in the uk i would argue that a daggerboard class is more relevant to the majority of windsurfing racing participants- simply more people race boards with daggerboards than those racing Fomrula.
To come back to my original point about vision and how to get there,
My vision is for windsurf racing to encourage participation and to be popular.
We should do this by nurturing and encuraging a class of board that can be sailed in as wide a range of conditions as possible, from inland to open sea in 3 - 30 knots. A class that is tolerant of a range of weights from young girls through to the heaviest hairy man.
Formula is not that class, choosing it as the olympic kit will plough resources into a class that is inherently limited in its appeal and future ability to encourage windsurf racing at grass roots, and thus the money competing nations put into the class will only benefit a very few" elite athletes" and will have no trickle through benefit for the wider windsurfing community, a travesty in my mind. true the rsx is poor- because it never should have been chosen. The longboard won the trials last time around, it was the most versatile best performing board, formula was third behind the rsx. It is quite astounding to me that you are choosing to promote FOD, the type of board that was third at the trials, over and above the longboard, the type of board that won the trials last time around......but it is indicative of a weird desire in windsurfing to mess things up....
I am happy to have this discussion on the open forum but i am also happy to talk privately about it, my email is matthew (-at-) demonsails.co.uk
|23rd September 2008, 04:41 PM||#29|
There could still be some apparent problems with the maths that "demonstrate" that most racers want to sail 'planing boards', with respect.
The FW rankings comprise 24 events over 15 months, including some very local events, so it's not a total surprise that they cover more sailors than the RSX rankings which seem to cover just 7 events. However, there's probably no one here who is actually defending the RSX, and some of us certainly don't think that being Olympic actually helps a class. Like the death of the IMCO, the fact that the RSX is not very popular could just show how Olympic status harms a class.
The real question is, are the international rankings really the best way to work out how popular a class is worldwide? Some classes centre around ranking-type events, some don't. Raceboards, for example, don't have a world ranking yet there are many people racing raceboards keenly every week. Look up the Midlands association, the London Windsurfing Association, the Toronto racers, the DAC fleet, the German longboarders, the French Raceboarders - they total hundreds yet they are missing from your list simply because the Raceboarders prefer to concentrate on regular local racing.
For example, I sail two board classes that had over 130 racers last year in this country - but not one of these classes has a ranking list so those 130 sailors (including three former Olympians) are invisible if we use ranking lists as our criteria. Is a measure that ignores the biggest class in a significant windsurfing country and a former PWA world champ all that reliable?
One of those classes has a meeting this Saturday evening where they may declare a ranking system, which could incorporate three ex-Olympians, one PWA world champ, and almost 150 other sailors (plus a whole bunch more if one more country is included). This one example - the fact that a simple committee vote can be the difference between not existing and having about 1/3 or over 1/2 as many sailors as FW in the ranking list- may illustrate that just going off ranking systems isn't an accurate measure of what sailors are actually out there racing.
Under a system which uses world ranking lists, the 80+ sailors on the UK ranking list don't exist, although in the UK rankings there are only 4 fewer Raceboards than FW boards. Under a system which uses world ranking lists, the 50 sailors who race FW in my area get counted, but the 105 longboarders who sail longboards in my area don't get counted.
So while the use of international rankings is cool, it's also open to argument from those of us who do not feel that it is accurate, because it simply ignores any class that does not run international rankings, it ignores those who race at their local club and not at a higher level, and it is wide open to distortion because it simply gets down to the way an individual class chooses to run.
When the claim is that racers around the world want to sail 'planing boards' surely we should not ignore many hundreds of racers just because they sail classes that have no international ranking list.
And finally, the Kona One Design world rankings currently total 946 sailors, and since they are about to form an official International class those rankings will soon be as "official" as the FW rankings.......so even if we use the measure of international rankings, the 'planing type' boards may not be #1.
So if we go by ranking lists or not, it seems hard to see that most racers want planing boards.