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Forum Index: DISCUSSION: Dock Talk:
Focus on Heroes and Stop Prostituting the Sport
Team McLube

 



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Dec 9, 2010, 12:51 PM

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Focus on Heroes and Stop Prostituting the Sport
By Paul Henderson, former ISAF President

The big problem that Mark Reynolds touches on in his three part interview this week (Olympic Sailing - Is the Men's Keelboat Era Over?) is that in sailing the media focus is always on the equipment and not the sailors.

The media focus in skiing is not on the skis, or in golf on the clubs, but on the personalities. In Olympic sailing, we argue whether it should be a Star or a Soling or an FD or a 49er or the format whether it be Match or Fleet racing or the courses to be windward leewards or triangles, all with some convoluted idea that we will get more TV ratings and therefore more money.

Whether a boat goes 12kts or 18 kts, or has two hulls or one... who cares? The media wants heroes and stories, and also nationalism sells.

At the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, the great media stories was when the Canadian snowboarder won a gold, but it was his CP brother in the stands cheering that tore our hearts out. Or the Canadian figure skating bronze medallist doing so well when her mother had just died prior to the Games.

It will shock all the sailors who focus on classes that the Star is the most followed Olympic media event. This is because the heroes who have made their name in the Finn or Laser gravitate to the Star, so the journalists already know them. By the way, the boardsailors usually end up sailing catamarans.

Thinking that we need to prostitute the sport so as to get more TV is nonsense in the utmost. We will not get more TV as there are 28 Olympic sports and only about 6 get good ratings and at least 14 get minimal. There is nothing Sailing can do to erode basketball, swimming, or athletics coverage except if a few sailors drown... and then we may get five minutes in prime time (but that would be a drastic maneuver).

Sailing gets very good internet coverage, ranking fifth as it is a niche market as are 20 of the other sports.

Focus on the personalities and pick the types of events that are for all sizes and shapes of sailors, or the Olympics will become an irrelevant Junior Regatta.

ISAF got $8 million out of Beijing, which is up from $50,000 in Montreal (1976 Games) and $2.5 million in Sydney (2000 Games). How much money does the Federation need?

Put the sailors and the integrity of the sport first and stop prostituting the game for some unattainable TV coverage. Several years ago, Rowing had an idea to get rid of the Eight event so as to get more events for the limited number of athletes involved, and therefore get more TV. The IOC and FISA said: "That is Rowing's premier event - you got to be kidding."

The rebuttal is that sailing will get kicked out of the Olympics which is utter nonsense. The IOC must vote 50% +1 to eliminate any sport and Sailing has always got 75% in all such votes and, by the way, the IOC President is a sailor.

(December 8, 2010)




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Dec 9, 2010, 12:52 PM

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From Paul Gingras, Palm Beach, FL:
Paul Henderson's note regarding Olympic Sailing is the most reasoned discussion of the issue that I have come across. I suggest that you reprint it once a month for the next two years.






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Dec 9, 2010, 12:53 PM

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From Urban Miyares, Challenged America co-founder:
I couldn't agree more with Paul Henderson comments on putting the sailor first. As a former U.S. National Alpine Ski Champion, and ranked the world's fastest downhill (total) blind skier, I know first-hand about the media attraction and how it was focus on me and my fellow skiers first, before my skis or any sponsor's equipment. And, as co-founder of the San Diego Challenged America program for sailors with disabilities, we have a saying that "It doesn't matter where we finish in a race, the media will be waiting for us at the dock" -- as evident by our mid-fleet finish in both the 2003 and 2005 Transpac races ... with many stating Challenged America draws more in media attention and publicity than many well-known boats or their owner's/skipper's in the race. The individual draws the story, as Paul Henderson states, than the vessel or other regatta or race-related news. The headline "sizzle" story in sailing is definitely the sailor; the back-page "steak" may be the boat or other sailing story.




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Dec 9, 2010, 12:54 PM

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From Fritz Mueller:
If there was ever a need for a "Yoda" in Olympic class sailing, then perhaps Paul Henderson needs the distinction. Olympic sailing has become something far removed from the sport, and short- changes all it's aspirants, in favor of an agenda which does not do justice to all the truly talented and supremely dedicated people who aspire to match those of legends, professional or otherwise.....and he is right about the Star being the apex of the sport.

The amateurs (check out the true definition) are what drive the sport....they buy most of the gear, if they can get it in their country. The modern Olympics were originally intended for amateurs, and when that changed, so did everything else.

To paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson- "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro". When all the committees, class organizations and such, can get on the same page and address their constituency, the sport will come back to the golden years when the competitors themselves proved everything on the water. The adversity and drama, type which the amateur faces, is the real kind of fodder the media want to report. (I could rant on this for hours, sorry)


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Dec 9, 2010, 12:54 PM

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From Andrew McIrvine, Commodore, RORC:
The 'Pope' still makes a lot of sense. Can we have him back - the present hierarchy seem reluctant to appear above the parapet?!




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Dec 9, 2010, 12:55 PM

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From Scott MacLeod, Force10 Marketing:
Wow, I hate to say this but Paul Henderson is right on the mark. As I keep telling people (having run a few events in my time) it has nothing to do with the boats, it's the people. Chasing ratings is a very dangerous game that sailing won't win but delivering a better TV product at a much lower cost would be a better strategy.


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Dec 9, 2010, 12:56 PM

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From Tony Furman:
At last...someone voicing something we in the PR/marketing business have known forever (or shouldn't be in the business!). The idea of having "heroes" is not new to us that have been promoting sports (I'm in the game for over 40 years!), especially in the world of "minor sports" and that is not derogatory, but just a matter of number of competitors in the sport.

I've made my living in this world, i.e., sailing's Liberty Cup, North Cove Yacht Harbor intro, Men's and Woman's Pro Skiing Tours, Vail Resort, Beach Tennis and the list goes on. It is always the personality that gets us the space on TV or in the print media, now even more so with the internet outlets. LISTEN to the man as he speaks the truth no matter what the manufacturers say (and having represented Beneteau successfully, they did use personalities in their promotions on and off the water; I know of what I speak!).

May Scuttlebutt have a vast reaching audience that will understand what Paul is saying and increase the use of the sailors and if necessary, CREATE your own sailing heroes...EXCELSIOR!


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Dec 9, 2010, 12:56 PM

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From Tatjana Pokorny, Sailing Correspondent dpa, Yacht & Welt, Germany:
I do not always agree with Paul Henderson’s strong opinions but this time round a hundred percent! How on earth can ISAF even think of eliminating the Star involving so many of the most popular sailors on the planet?

Being based in a country where sailing (and thus we as journalists) always (!) have to fight for space in the media (and believe us, we do!), we are very aware of the fact that we simply need popular names to convince the responsible editors of newspapers and general interest magazines (many of them have absolutely no idea about sailing!) to publish sailing stories. Paul Henderson has mentioned the alternative: Talk about drowned sailors always works - but no, thanks!

Sportive success of your national athletes is and remains to be the main key to get space! Interesting characters and human interest stories add to that. Only if print journalism (news agencies, newspapers, magazines) builds the stage, TV steps on it and gets interested. It does not work the other way round! Any TV journalist in Germany would need to prove an existing public interest (by print coverage) to convince his or her editor, get the (high) budget and cover sailing. Most of my print editors do not care about classes; they do not even know them! They know all about soccer, skiing and athletics.

Now that we do have Youth Olympic Games as a stage for the young and upcoming generation the Olympics should be what they are meant to be: An arena for the best sailors in the world. From our perspective that should include match racing for men as well as for women. Match racing does include many of the stars from the America’s Cup and other attractive fields of which an average editor at least has heard before.

I still have no idea why match racing is an Olympic discipline for women but not for men. It is a cool and easy to understand discipline providing great names, spectacular action and great (duel) stories - in any given class.

P.S.: It would probably help if the Star class could overcome their traditional habit of enjoying to be a bit different. An example: If there are medal races in the Olympics and you want to be an Olympic discipline then you should probably consider including medal races in your class championship!? Get rid of your historical pride and show some will.




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Dec 9, 2010, 12:57 PM

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From Keith Mackeown:
Hallelujah.! It is a relief to know that there is someone close to the high corridors of sailing administration with some sense. Stop letting the tail wag the dog. Our sport is our sport designed the way we like to do it. If that doesn't suit the TV so be it. I don't know anybody who took up sailing to be on TV. I've never sailed a Star but I've always considered it the ultimate Olympic class. Throwing it out seems like chucking the 100m or 1500m from the athletics - bonkers.


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Dec 9, 2010, 12:58 PM

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From Jeremy Lucas:
I'm sick and tired of the endless debate that exists in our sport regarding how to make Olympic sailing more palatable for television audiences. Let's face it, no matter how hard we try, our sport simply will not appeal to a mainstream television audience. We correctly reward consistency, which means our events need to be spread across several days and greatly reduces the probability of a nail-biter finish. Our races are long, the rules are difficult to explain and often nothing exciting will happen for more than 10 minutes. Let's stop trying to change our sport for the benefit of TV. I suggest we focus on a different medium - the internet. Let's make sailing the ultimate internet sport and drive traffic to the event's' website. Stick transponders and web cams on each boat and give the viewer the ability to control how he/she views the race. Have a live blog with rules and tactics experts. Toss in a live forum. Hey, if you want to get super geeky, give a viewer the ability to control a virtual boat and compete alongside the athletes. Post interviews with competitors. Have a live Q&A session nightly with questions taken from an online audience. Make it fun, interactive and addictive. People will watch from work, and with multiple Olympic courses, they will stay online all day. Let our sport rank #1 on the internet and let's show other sports how an internet-focused strategy can work. Most importantly, let's stop allowing TV executives dictate to us how our sport should be run.


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Dec 9, 2010, 12:58 PM

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From Michael Millard:
While I wholeheartedly agree with the points Paul Henderson makes in his article on Olympic Sailing and the where the focus should be, I wanted to emphasize a point he makes that will absolutely make Olympic Sailing more popular, especially when it comes to how we view it. One word....INTERNET!!!!! Forget TV coverage....sailing is best followed online and the Olympic Committee should figure out a way to be a leader in this form of media, for our sport. The future of sailing rests with our youth...Our youth always turn to the internet for everything they do...and that includes following sports. If we want better 'coverage', better 'awareness', figure out a way to enhance the internet experience. TV and newspapers are dying....Interactivity is here and now...and sailing is proving to be an amazing 'interactive' sport.




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Dec 9, 2010, 9:08 PM

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Surely Paul Henderson's comments are correct, BUT let us explore this subject further. Is it really true that the "equipment" and its size does not matter?

Sailing has the advantage over many other sports that spectacular "equipment" can potentially add a lot to the public image and media attractiveness of the sport. If we go back to the pre-WWII years of the Olympics, the larger keelboats that were used were Skerry Cruisers/Square Meter Yachts and Meter Yachts. At that time these boats were the most advanced, fastest and beautiful yachts ever produced.

I believe that the public image and media attractiveness of Olympic sailing would increase dramatically today if we learned from Olympic sailing a century ago, as well as from the America's Cup, and allowed each country to participate with a 12 Meter yacht again! Our entire Western tradition of recreational sailing was shaped by early sailing heroes like Lipton, Fife, Herreshoff, Vanderbilt, Sparkman & Stevens, etc.

Paul Henderson is also right when he says that sailing will "never" be dropped from the Olympics. Sailing represents freedom, adventure, heritage, competition, glamor, technology, nature, oceans, wind power, and many other positive attributes.

Would a 12 Meter Olympic keelboat match racing discipline attract the very best sailing heroes in the world (think Conner, Bond, Koch, Bertrand, Melges, Turner, Coutts, etc.)?

Would the size, beauty, majesty, heritage, glamor and inspiration of a 12 Meter Olympic "flagship" yacht attract millions of potential new sailors to the sport, and thereby indirectly benefit all the less expensive and widespread boat classes, and attract more sponsors than small boats?

Without a doubt!

Furthermore, the America's Cup defender abandoned the 12 Meter Yacht (IACC) just at a time when large developing countries, like China, were finally able to participate. With the ISAF and IOC stepping into this vacuum, and re-introducing the Olympic 12 Meter Yacht (IACC) in 2016, China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, etc. will be able, for the first time, to put together their own national 12 Meter Yacht teams, and significantly raise the profile of sailing in these countries representing 3 billion people, and inspiring millions of new sailors!

This new Olympic 12 Meter yacht will be a strict one-design class, supplied only by a few ISAF appointed builders, to keep costs down. The objective is to create a large beautiful "flagship" to show the glamor and heritage of sailing to the remaining 3 billion people in the developing world, like China, India, Brazil and Indonesia, who have never experienced this, and these developing countries can now afford to buy such a boat. You need to inspire the grassroots to become grassroots.

Combining the greatest sailing heroes of all times AND the most impressive and beautiful Olympic 12 Meter Yacht "flagship" would not only help sailing in the Western world, but also bring the sport to a whole new world which has never experienced sailing.

Best regards

Nis Peter Lorentzen
Founder
Scandinavian Cruisers
www.scandinaviancruisers.com

12 Meter Yachts:





6 Meter and 12 Meter Yachts at the 1936 Olympics:


SK30 Square Meter Yachts / Skerry Cruisers:






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Dec 11, 2010, 12:31 AM

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With the greatest of respect there are some areas with which I take issue with Paul.

>>It will shock all the sailors who focus on classes that the Star is the most followed Olympic media event. This is because the heroes who have made their name in the Finn or Laser gravitate to the Star, so the journalists already know them. By the way, the boardsailors usually end up sailing catamarans. <<

I was part of the media in Qingdao, and wasn't aware of any leaning of media interest towards the Star. Yes their medal race was spectacular, in the big breeze and big sea off the seawall at Qingdao - as were the 49ers and Torndos, Yngling and others. But in the earlier stages of the regatta there were often only one or two media boats on the Star/Tornado course, and with only a couple of photographers on each the times I went to their course. Yes some of the Star sailors are household names, but the real media interest is in the medalists from previous Olympics who are coming back, and if they can become double or triple medalists. Can history be made? People like Alessandra Sensini, Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy (can he win Gold in the Finn and now the Star?) The performance of the Chinese womens board sailor in front of her home crowd was clearly the most unforgettable. There was only one event, in terms of local support. Plus you have real nationalism at the Olympics, which is not the case in other aspects of professional sailing. Nationalism is something the general media understand very well - as it pulls the readership back home. My point being that the Star is not the media jewel of the Olympics.

>>Put the sailors and the integrity of the sport first and stop prostituting the game for some unattainable TV coverage. Several years ago, Rowing had an idea to get rid of the Eight event so as to get more events for the limited number of athletes involved, and therefore get more TV. The IOC and FISA said: "That is Rowing's premier event - you got to be kidding." <<

The Eights, in Rowing are their blue riband event. They are always the final event on the program, and suggesting that it should be dropped is just plain loopy. Not sure who "Rowing" is as their international body is FISA, and they seem to have nipped this idea early in the piece. However this point underlines the fact that most sports do have a blue riband event, and Yachting does not - and that is part of the reason why the broadcast hours are so low.

Many believe that Yachting is "at risk" with its low broadcast hours at the Olympics. The real downside is that Yachting misses exposure in the greatest sporting theater in the world, which has an impact on non-sailors who could get their first taste of Yachting on the TV screen and decide to find out more. There are numerous examples of young sailors, who see an Olympics, Volvo OR or America's Cup on TV and decide to have a go. With improved coaching, a much bigger percentage of world champions are coming from non-sailing families - and like it or not, the reality is that television and the Olympics are a great way to spread the sailing gospel. We have to maximize that opportunity.
Good Sailing!

Richard Gladwell




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Dec 13, 2010, 7:42 AM

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From Clark Chapin:
To answer Paul Henderson’s question ...

“ISAF got $8 million out of Beijing, which is up from $50,000 in Montreal (1976 Games) and $2.5 million in Sydney (2000 Games). How much money does the Federation need?”

We all know the answer: “As much as they can possibly get.” Or perhaps, “How much have you got?”

Maybe this is the wrong question. Perhaps a better question is, “Would it be better for the world-wide sport of sailing if it was not an Olympic sport?” US SAILING, in its previous incarnation as USYRU debated this question in the late-70’s. At that time, the consensus was “Yes”, (and it may be again) but the irrational demands of the world body based on their need to maintain and justify an exorbitantly expensive and excessive structure could mean that that the time has come again to ask some basic questions.

Let’s not be confused about what the Olympics are: Every four years, a group called the ‘International Olympic Committee’ puts on a television festival that features various events where the outcome is not known beforehand and are therefore sports. The object of the event is not really to determine any sort of world champion (although SOME of the world’s best athletes compete), but to generate advertising revenue that returns to the aforementioned ‘International Olympic Committee’ that then decides to conduct the event at another venue to generate more revenue.

Removing sailing from the Olympics would be highly disruptive, but it could be for the best.


From Giles Pearman:
I have no beef with the Star. Never sailed one, never will. I have no beef with the world’s best sailors having an appropriate vehicle to show off their talents at the Olympics. It just occurs to me that one problem sailing may have with something like the Star is the fact that the fundamental design of the boat is too far in the past and, unlike skiing and cycling for example, the upgrades to the design over the years are by no means obvious and cool (just look at the website for the sexy developments - http://www.starclass.org/about.shtml).

An amateur cyclist can go buy something similar to the cool looking bikes used at the Olympics; the amateur skier can go buy something similar to the cool looking skis now in use. What does the amateur sailor do if he wants something cool: doesn’t he go and buys a foiling moth or sportsboat, or at least something involving lots of carbon-fibre, an asymmetric kite and no hiking vests? It occurs to me that the last thing the wannabe hero-identifier sailor buys is a Star.

I am Tiger Woods because I use a Nike Dymo driver; I am Chris Hoy because I ride a Dolan; I am Bode Miller because I use Head skis; I might have been Robert Scheidt when he sailed a Laser, but I am never going to be Robert Scheidt in a Star. Don’t shoot the messenger, just explain how and why my hero worshipping children start to identify with guys racing a boat designed in 1911. If Miller was made to use hickory skis, with steel and leather bindings, they’d love him like Mr Bean but not because he’s cool...




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Dec 13, 2010, 11:35 AM

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The athletes can relate very well to Paul Henderson’s point that it’s not about the events it’s about the media, the stories and the competition. But what is clear is that the path the ISAF had while under Paul Henderson’s control for nearly a decade made it a feeding ground for strategy-less council making decisions. I surely was pissed off at how carelessly and blindly ISAF changed things right before each quad, especially when I fund 75% of my own Olympic campaign expenses. Did medal races make us a TV sport? Did killing the multihull get us closer? Without fitting and sustainable equipment to my body type and experience they are ‘make or break’ Olympic decisions.

After sitting on the Olympic Commission and as chair of the ISAF Athletes Commission, changes are now finally being made according to an overarching strategy that took some 18 months of nearly daily emails and calls with all the vested constituents responding (IOC, ISAF, MNA’s, sports consultancies). You can find this strategy on the homepage’s link on ISAF’s homepage or here. No it’s not perfect, but it’s a huge leap forward of where ISAF was.

The problem in the sailing sports federations world is that they aren’t ran like businesses; they spend money given to them and have nearly no clue how to actually market and sell the brand. Now with the approved strategy, ISAF will be out to the ultimate litmus test, having to engage tactics that requires raising capital and many other operational changes to achieve success.

My hope is that, although the changes are large now especially relating to equipment, the changes in the future will be expected, focused, and more so on the media and the marketability of commercial investment. I am personally tired of having to fund all the events with my entry fee, market myself to the max, go to freezing cold venues and pay for the rest of the Olympic dream while the rest of the world watches who wins.

What is clear through this new strategy is that these changes internationally won’t just change the landscape of Olympic Sailing globally but also here in the U.S. which is going to have to make a major overhaul to fit the development required to win in the upcoming Olympic Games. As Lance Armstrong once said, “it’s not about the bike.” And it’s surely not about the boat, and so I don’t know why sailing is so surprised to see the boats going to a more one design, ‘out of the box’ design and a push to more affordable options that allow talent to win above the size of the bank account.

And if it’s not about the “boat” then why is everybody so stressed out? I think whatever the new events are based on the implemented strategy, it will be a good weeding out process for those smart enough, fast and strong enough to compete on the new global Olympic circuit. Besides, now you can sail with your wife or significant other (mixed) and enjoy the dream together. Joking aside, thank the Olympic Commission with Phil Jones, Cory Sertl, David Irish, Chris Atkins, Dick Batt, George Fundak, Scott Perry, and the current president Goran Peterson for starting a revolution council finally approved. We finally shoved something useful down the ISAF chimney just in time for Christmas.

Regards,

Ben Barger
ISAF Athletes Commission Chairman- RSX Sailor
Olympic Commission Member
US Olympian -Windsurfer


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Dec 14, 2010, 10:59 AM

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In Reply To
From Giles Pearman:
I have no beef with the Star. Never sailed one, never will. I have no beef with the world’s best sailors having an appropriate vehicle to show off their talents at the Olympics. It just occurs to me that one problem sailing may have with something like the Star is the fact that the fundamental design of the boat is too far in the past and, unlike skiing and cycling for example, the upgrades to the design over the years are by no means obvious and cool (just look at the website for the sexy developments - http://www.starclass.org/about.shtml).

An amateur cyclist can go buy something similar to the cool looking bikes used at the Olympics; the amateur skier can go buy something similar to the cool looking skis now in use. What does the amateur sailor do if he wants something cool: doesn’t he go and buys a foiling moth or sportsboat, or at least something involving lots of carbon-fibre, an asymmetric kite and no hiking vests? It occurs to me that the last thing the wannabe hero-identifier sailor buys is a Star.

I am Tiger Woods because I use a Nike Dymo driver; I am Chris Hoy because I ride a Dolan; I am Bode Miller because I use Head skis; I might have been Robert Scheidt when he sailed a Laser, but I am never going to be Robert Scheidt in a Star. Don’t shoot the messenger, just explain how and why my hero worshipping children start to identify with guys racing a boat designed in 1911. If Miller was made to use hickory skis, with steel and leather bindings, they’d love him like Mr Bean but not because he’s cool...


From George Sechrist:
I am an ex-Star sailor, which leads me to the following comments of Mr. Pearman's article:

1. It would appear to be a huge oxymoron to state that " the worlds best sailors sail the boat" and the "fundamental design of the boat is too far in the past".

2. Regarding upgrades of the Star, compared to skiing and cycling (and Tigers clubs?), apparently not visible from a website, I googled Dolan and got nothing but lights for sale, and Head Skis and got nothing but advertising of their latest "state of the art" stuff. I did learn that Chris Hoy is a cycling champion. It appears that Mr. Pearman does truly not understand what a one-design class is all about, which involves the skill of the competitors using basically identical equipment (with allowed variations), and not technological breakthroughs with the latest carbon fiber dujour. The Star, and other boats, have evolved over the years, just as skis , bikes, and golf clubs, I see no difference at all.

3. If someone wants to be "cool" (and he is obsessed with the word) and buy a Moth, Sportboat, or some carbon fiber creation, and/or an A sail, by all means do it. There are no lack of choices on the market today. However, this will not get you in to competitive olympic sailing at the highest level, but at least you're cool.

4. Why does the sailing community care at all what his "hero worshipping children" choose to identify with? If they want to ride a Dolan (still don't know what it is), let them ; if they want to use Tiger's clubs, let them; if they want to sail a Moth or an A sail, let them; and if they want to have an incredible experience sailing a Star with the world's best, let them. Oh, BTW, if they want to sail in a nice seat without hiking, don't put them in a Star, as physical skills are involved!

5. And finally, Mr. Pearman has missed the obvious: Robert Scheidt and many, many other Olympic and World class sailors have moved up from the Laser and/or Finn simply because of the fact the Star is where the world's best sailors are competing. It may not be cool, but that's where the action is. I guess it's up to the parents to explain this to the kids.




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Dec 14, 2010, 11:08 AM

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In Reply To
The athletes can relate very well to Paul Henderson’s point that it’s not about the events it’s about the media, the stories and the competition. But what is clear is that the path the ISAF had while under Paul Henderson’s control for nearly a decade made it a feeding ground for strategy-less council making decisions. I surely was pissed off at how carelessly and blindly ISAF changed things right before each quad, especially when I fund 75% of my own Olympic campaign expenses. Did medal races make us a TV sport? Did killing the multihull get us closer? Without fitting and sustainable equipment to my body type and experience they are ‘make or break’ Olympic decisions.

After sitting on the Olympic Commission and as chair of the ISAF Athletes Commission, changes are now finally being made according to an overarching strategy that took some 18 months of nearly daily emails and calls with all the vested constituents responding (IOC, ISAF, MNA’s, sports consultancies). You can find this strategy on the homepage’s link on ISAF’s homepage or here. No it’s not perfect, but it’s a huge leap forward of where ISAF was.

The problem in the sailing sports federations world is that they aren’t ran like businesses; they spend money given to them and have nearly no clue how to actually market and sell the brand. Now with the approved strategy, ISAF will be out to the ultimate litmus test, having to engage tactics that requires raising capital and many other operational changes to achieve success.

My hope is that, although the changes are large now especially relating to equipment, the changes in the future will be expected, focused, and more so on the media and the marketability of commercial investment. I am personally tired of having to fund all the events with my entry fee, market myself to the max, go to freezing cold venues and pay for the rest of the Olympic dream while the rest of the world watches who wins.

What is clear through this new strategy is that these changes internationally won’t just change the landscape of Olympic Sailing globally but also here in the U.S. which is going to have to make a major overhaul to fit the development required to win in the upcoming Olympic Games. As Lance Armstrong once said, “it’s not about the bike.” And it’s surely not about the boat, and so I don’t know why sailing is so surprised to see the boats going to a more one design, ‘out of the box’ design and a push to more affordable options that allow talent to win above the size of the bank account.

And if it’s not about the “boat” then why is everybody so stressed out? I think whatever the new events are based on the implemented strategy, it will be a good weeding out process for those smart enough, fast and strong enough to compete on the new global Olympic circuit. Besides, now you can sail with your wife or significant other (mixed) and enjoy the dream together. Joking aside, thank the Olympic Commission with Phil Jones, Cory Sertl, David Irish, Chris Atkins, Dick Batt, George Fundak, Scott Perry, and the current president Goran Peterson for starting a revolution council finally approved. We finally shoved something useful down the ISAF chimney just in time for Christmas.

Regards,

Ben Barger
ISAF Athletes Commission Chairman- RSX Sailor
Olympic Commission Member
US Olympian -Windsurfer



From Paul Henderson:
I am not sure Ben Barger has his facts right as he is rather new on the scene which is good to see young sailors actively involved in ISAF.

"But what is clear is that the path the ISAF had while under Paul Henderson's control for nearly a decade made it a feeding ground for strategy-less council making decisions. I surely was pissed off at how carelessly and blindly ISAF changed things right before each quad, especially when I fund 75% of my own Olympic campaign expenses. Did medal races make us a TV sport? Did killing the multihull get us closer?"

The Medal Race and killing the multihull both happened for 2008 Beijing and London 2012. I left ISAF in 2004 after championing both the 49er for Sydney and the new RSX for Beijing which were chosen in open and well thought out evaluations.

Glad to see Ben made the Olympic Team in the RSX. I am most proud of the fact that Women's participation rose from 19% in Savannah to 36% in Athens 2004. There are many issues sailors can debate about which they always do but get the facts right.


Stefan
**

Dec 28, 2010, 4:02 PM

Post #18 of 18 (18042 views)
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Re: [The Publisher] Focus on Heroes and Stop Prostituting the Sport [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Hi all,

I do not think anyone disagrees about the need for human profiles in order to market- and expose sailing the most in an Olympic game or sailing in general. But one thing doesn’t exclude the other!

Paul Henderson points out how the media focus in skiing is not on the skis, or in golf on the clubs. But this is not proof that the equipment doesn’t make a different as Paul claims. Look to the big picture and it proves the opposite. Both Golf and Skiing have professional track-builders to construct a racecourse with special design to make sure the competition is challenging, entertaining and also TV-friendly.

For the same reason sailing will benefit to have these high profile sailors that we all agree that we need – in the most spectator friendly and exiting sailboats. And exiting to attract the sporting youth of today and tomorrow equals speed.

Shorter beachside tracks with boats like the Tornado, Skiff 18, 49:er and other fast platform is the best combination to both build new sailing profiles and give existing ones the best way to expose sailing.

I am a sailor myself but in my profession I have been working with marketing, promotion and media for car and motorcycle racing for more than 25 years. In this world it is not a subject to opinion if your equipment matters or not. Everybody knows that the combination between the driver/rider and the equipment is the product you promote and sell to the spectators. I do not think sailing by any way is excluded from this existing marketing force where performance is a great tool.

And if anybody has doubt about this I suggest that you show the picture found in the link below to any chosen person in marketing and ask them if he/she would prefer any boat in particular from this image if his/her job was to promote sailing as sport to the general public.

http://www.americascupmedia.com/AC45NZ1D6_3735,en,igf84p96n15.html

Okay, this is an extreme example but take it down to cruising level. If you are just out sailing along the shoreline and pass a dock full of people. How many will turn their heads and shout “look” to their friends if you are passing when flying one hull in high speed on a Tornado and how many will do the same when cruising by in a Soling?

The different reaction from people, specially from non-sailors tells the importance to use the right equipment when marketing sailing to as many spectators as possible. Smile

And don’t get me started on the pure stupidity from a marketing perspective to drop the Tornado in the Olympics. Everyone has their right to have what ever favorite class and you may dislike multihull as well but taking away the by far top performance in the Olympics (and not replacing it with anything equal or better) is about as smart as if FIA would drop Formula 1 cars.





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