a high standard," said Gary Jobson, president of US
Sailing and an ESPN and NBC sailing commentator.
"Young people want action and excitement, like the
X Games and slope style skiing. It's time for an image
change away from the coat-and-tie yachtsman."
So what does this mean to you the RS:X sailor or coach?
To discover this, we first have to acknowledge that when windsurfing came into the Olympic family, it was immediately handed a dinghy format. The format that all the other 'event's raced at the Olympic Regatta were using. From that day to this, nothing has changed. We have got used to going out and racing pretty much the exact same format as everyone else. Even if we had wanted to, there has been no opportunity to question this.
Now the situation has radically changed.
The ISAF Council has understood that sailing's greatest strength is its diversity. Jerome Pels, the ISAF Secretary General has said "I.S.A.F. has long been challenged to make what is inherently a participatory sport into a spectator sport"
Christophe Dubi, sports director for the I.O.C. since 2008, said recently in a phone interview... "The I.O.C. has moved from using a quantitative list to select events to an overall value-added selection process. The criteria could be provenance or universality. It’s an issue of maximizing the platform we offer at the Olympics."
Going on to pick archery as a good example of a sport that is adapting by making its format more compact and easier to understand in the final stages. Dubi said "It has become one of our biggest TV products"
1. There is pressure from within the I.O.C for change
2. The President of US Sailing has said "It's time for an image change away from the coat-and-tie yachtsman"
3. Jerome Pels has challenged us to transform our events attractive to spectators
Added to these facts is the knowledge that the Rio 2016 organizers will build a grandstand for paying spectators right there on the beach. Sailing therefore has an opportunity to show off its diversity to the fullest extent. Meaning that we have to offer them a full program of attractive events to enjoy. This will require short courses set close to the shore so that they can see and understand at a glance.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that we have to develop a format that is quick and easy for the viewer to understand... That is more compact and easier to understand in the final stages as Dubi said.
These are the roots of the 'Back-To-The-Future' RS:X format proposals which offer a compact second round scored using a double elimination knock-out system - making discards obsolete - and suggesting that rule infractions should be resolved there and then on the water between heats.
Remember that the most exciting images from the 2008 Games came from sailing. The I.O.C. is fully behind our efforts to make our sport more spectator-friendly. Dubi said "This is what everyone should be doing."
So we have to come up with something a bit out of the box. Something very attractive. Changes that also make our format more understandable and television friendly.
We will continue to build on our media project - which is second to none in Olympic sailing - We have the best graphical presentation, the most color, the most dynamic and the most attractive discipline. We are working on the evolution of our equipment so that is lighter and faster without being more expensive. We are even working on a compact form of racing - City Centre Racing - to trial ideas that can be used in Rio.
The aim is to marry technology with the compelling nature of windsurfing so that spectators continue to be attracted by what we have to offer. We are passionate about windsurfing. We need to be equally passionate about delivering value to spectators and the media. Advancing is part of the Olympic spirit.
So let's go fast forward to the future...