At the recent World Yacht Racing Forum in Estoril, Portugal,
Pierre Ducrey, Head of Sports Operations at the IOC, said
"The key word is "added value". That's what sailing needs to
provide to the Olympic Games." This then is the challenge.
So here's a question... Which of the current olympic classes have done the most to... reinvent themselves and create a product that is appealing to the media ?
Well, I can tell you what the RS:X Class has done in this regard
a) It has the highest ranked website of all the Olympic classes finishing the summer season at 275k on Alexa.com. The ISAF Sailing World Cup event that ranked higher was Kieler Woche. No other Olympic class came close
b) The driver behind this success is the RS:X media project. This revolves round an integrated online dashboard that uses tools that many of you may be familiar with. Tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flikr. But as always when you have a toolbox, it's not the number of tools that matters but the strategy that you use that produces results.
c) At the 2010 RS:X World Windsurfing Championships in Kerteminde, Denmark, the RS:X Class became the first Olympic class to stream LIVE video with course commentary from the race course to the shore and to the web.
d) As for re-invention, Neil Pryde has been working closely with the class to develop the RS:X Evolution. The overriding criteria for this project is that developments should transform the performance of the RS:X without making it more expensive.
- We are currently testing a lightweight hull which comes out of exactly the same mould as the existing board. The big and only difference is that it is 2.5kgs lighter.
- The technical specifications for the foils are being examined with a view to making them lighter and more dynamic
- The existing sails are being optimized so that they incorporate the latest thinking and developments
These are subject to an ongoing testing program in which the maximum number of sailors possible will be given the chance to evaluate the developments and give their feedback.
e) Working closely with Neil Pryde, the grey film on the top third of the sails has been replaced with colour. Yellow for the men and red for the women. At the 2011 ISAF World Championships in Perth Australia, the whole fleet will be using these newly colourful sails. They were a big hit with the media at the 2010 ISAF Youth Worlds in Istanbul where Neil Pryde supplied only these sails.
f) We have been using large national flags on sails at our major championships for 3 years - since the 2008 RS:X World windsurfing Championships in Auckland in New Zealand which took place in January - in fact, the Olympic windsurfing class has been carrying national flags for much longer than that.
The bottom line that is that, to a large degree, the RS:X Class has anticipated the 'Evolution Not Revolution' mantra of the ISAF Olympic Commission in many ways and is working hard to 'reinvent' itself and 'create a product that is attractive to the media, the public and sponsors'
Let us not forget the Reach-4-The-Top training program which is quietly going about its business and has now been granted a budget by the RS:X Class to stage 3 training camps in 2011.
You will no doubt be hearing a lot more about our ongoing media project and development work in the New Year, in the meantime have a very happy Christmas and a very successful New Year.