Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Cat in the Olympics

Many polls on the internet to see what boat should be selected or what boat will be selected.
From a sailors point of view the Viper, the Nacra 17 and the Tornado are worthy candidates.
The Tornado does not really suit ISAF's criteria but should not be overlooked, The Viper has proven itself over the last 2 years and the Nacra 17  fills a gap with its curved boards.
It is interesting to see that manufacturers like NACRA ad AHPC push their boats for the Olympic bid. I fail to see how they think they will benefit from becoming an Olympic class. The new Olympic class will be a micro class with just a few topsailors  which will eventually drive all clubsailors out of the class.
The Viper class does pretty well on its own and will probably grow bigger without Olympic Status.
The Nacra 17 is aimed at a mixed crew, so I expect her design crew weight to be under that of an F18. If it becomes Olympic it will hurt the F18 less than some would expect as it is not meant to be an alternative for the F18.
Unfortunately catsailors have not the last vote about 'their' Olympic cat. The mixed in mixed multihull is silly as it is, but predicting what boat it will be asks for some advanced 'Kremlin watching'.
As multihull community we are still overlooked by the ISAF as the ISAF is dominated by countries (MNA's as they are called) who have invested in the more traditional classes. ISAF did a good job with the 49'er and a women's skiff is another step but ISAF should have become more high performance oriented and have either selected Multihull open or both a men's boat and a women' boat (I prefer open).
The Tornado has been bashed within the ISAF for the wrong reasons, it was an expensive boat but one should look at the cost of a complete campaign and the T's were durable and up to their task.

I hope that the Viper is not selected and that F16 class embraces its simplicity (and its minimum weight). An F16 class with an 130 kg limit will be thriving and attract many new manufacturers. There is room for such a class and I hope the class will blossom. As catamaran community we will grow due to the new sailors we attract of which many will be yougnsters.

Selecting the T, will hurt no existing class, but it will not attract many new sailors to catsailing either.

The Nacra 17 as Olympic class might wake up the F18 class, which may not longer be considered a box rule class. Too many silly restriction as we saw on the sailcloth gate and silly things as minimum weight for complete rudders.
I think that the F18 should allow curved boards else it might become obsolete as so many standard classes before. It's minimum weight should not drop too much. It is great that both the Viper and the F18 can be durable boats built in low cost materials. Carbon F16's and F18's would cost over 30.000 euros which will introduce a pretty steep entry barrier for new sailors.

There is a realistic chance that either the Hobie 16 or Hobie Tiger will be selected. This will not hurt us as a community but will make Olympic sailing hardly relevant for us. As said before, we get more excited about the America's cup and much less about Olympic sailing. We should not forget though that many of our cat heroes did do Olympic campaigns (Bundock, Ashby, Outerridge, Slingsby, Lange, etc).

As beach cat community we are pretty small compared to the windsurf community and the kiteboard community. I hope that we can  attracct many new sailors to our sport by offering them interesting classes and exciting boats. (F18, F16, A-class). 
As A-class we might profit from the turmoil in F18 and F16 class in the short run but in the long run we need those classes as well to be a blossomming community.

ISAF does little to popularize our sport and does not really promote high perfomance sailing. I hope that the AC can attract a big audience and that the (youngs) viewers will find their way to beach cats.

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