Friday, 1 October 2010

Olympic multihull event

The ISAF has to decide within one year which events (classes) will be in the 2016 Olympics. The return of the multihull event is most likely.
Two questions are to be answered
- Do we want a multihull event in the first place?
- What class should it be?

Multhull sailing is flourishing so we clearly do not need the Olympics to bring the sport to half boat sailors and the general public. So the answer for the first question is ' be careful what you wish for'.

In my opinion there are not too many good candidates for a new multihull class. If a F18type is selected that would ruin the current F18 class. The Tornado as a design looks outdated.
The Tornado would be suitable for the sailors but is no longer the best boat to promote the sport.

If we want a multihull in the Olympics I would like to see a state of the art design with the same or better building quailty as the Tornado. A lighter better looking boat built in carbon-nomex with curved foils and  an up to date wing profiled mast (not a wing). Carbon beams, composite rigging, double trapezing  suitable for both boys and girls, fast in light and strong winds, suitable for lakes and seas.

I think the class is best off with a Marstrom like builder. A boat builder who builds a limited amount of boats for the class each year. A high tech economic boat. Economic because it lasts at leasts two campaigns.
For manufacturers as Hobie and Nacra such a class does not make much sense because sales are limited and the class will not grow much outside the sailors who want to qualify for the Olympics.

If a new class will enter the Olympic arena depends heavily on what the ISAF wants and more important what ISAF does. Time is limited for a trial and a trial only makes sense if there is some consensus about the parameters of the new boat. To set these parameters ISAF has to do its homework, comparable to what BOR did in selecting the new AC multihull.

Sloppy homework by the ISAF can lead to the selection of a Hobie Tiger or Wildcat for the Olympics. That is neither in the interest of the sport or the manufacturers themselves. Vanity might lure Hobie (or another manufacturer) into this trap though.
ISAF is still convinced that the sport is best promoted by spreading olymnpic boats over the globe.
The reality shows that the number of sailors in the Olympic classes is low and that Olympic classes seldom grow outside the traditional sailing countries.
To promote the sport you have to focus on growth of the international classes.

The relevant distinction for ISAF is not cats vs dinghies, but high perfomance vs boring slow and outdated.

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