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Foiling at the Olympics

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Created by jusavina Two weeks ago, 4 May 2018
Chris 249
ACT, 1445 posts
5 May 2018 8:24AM
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There's a fair bit of marketing spin in the promotional vid, like cliches that "this is the future" and the claim that windfoiling is accessible for everyone. Most sailors in England, for example, sail inland on dams, gravel pits and narrow rivers. Windfoiling can't work on such waters. It's not easy to see where windfoiling fleets could work on Sydney Harbour, on Long Island Sound near New York, or around Berlin or Hamburg. When a discipline appears to ignore such major population and sailing centres, it's hard to see that it can be called "accessible".

Referring to the fact that windfoilers can pass Nacras etc also seems irrelevant. The Lechner was the second fastest Olympic class in its day, only behind the 20ft Tornado cat; same with the IMCO. That didn't help Olympic windsurfing.

We used to have the equal fastest sailing craft in our city, a F18 cat. None of the kids really gave a flying f*ck about it - they just sailed their Optis and Lasers. If speed is what counts, wouldn't kitefoilers replace foiling windsurfers in the Olympics?

It's interesting to compare the way people talk about promoting sailing with the way people write about computer game design. The game designers are incomparably more sophisticated in the way they analyse and discuss concepts like rule sets and the factors that motivate people to play. They are vastly more respectful of simpler old forms of games, more interested in learning from them, and much more flexible when it comes to learning. They use insights from psychology and neuroscience, ranging from the way our eyes perceive colour to the factors that make experiences satisfying. No wonder they are more successful in attracting users!

In contrast, many of the concepts about sailing appear to be rigid and the creation of rather superficial thinking about very complex issues. Many of the lines in the windfoiling vid could have been taken from promotion for the Windglider, freestyle, the RSX, the Lechner or any other windsurfer type. "The kids are excited....this is faster....this is the future"...... they were cliches 20 years ago.

Sailing has been reducing its accessibility for decades. It's also recently dramatically increased speeds - and over the same period participation has been dropping just as dramatically. While windfoiling is great, to take the marquee event of the sport further down the wrong route can seem to be a pretty bad idea.

windsufering
VIC, 555 posts
5 May 2018 8:31AM
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They banned the cats from foiling up wind

Gestalt
QLD, 11684 posts
5 May 2018 8:35AM
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Agree. How is it a fin that costs $1500 be considered accessible.

add the rest of the kit and you are talking 10k.

I can buy a bike that's many hours more fun and truly accessible for under $1000.

these guys are on crack.

windsufering
VIC, 555 posts
5 May 2018 8:36AM
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Advertising for starboard

AUS 814
NSW, 174 posts
5 May 2018 9:10AM
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A new laser costs around $12000, a new Finn $30,000 plus so it's still a fair bit cheaper

Chris 249
ACT, 1445 posts
5 May 2018 9:27AM
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The NB Laser sales list price for the Laser is $10,800, compared to a claimed $9,534 for the foiler. Sure, the Laser is $12k with covers and trolley, but given the amount of spin in the foiling vid we can imagine that the 6000 euros price they give is optimistic and may not include covers, tax, freight etc.

The accessibility is also totally different. Buy yourself or your kid a $1500-3000 Laser and there's dozens of local fleets to race in, whether it's windy or not. Sail it well and you'll be top 10 in most age divisions in the Laser nationals. If it doesn't work out, whether it's a brand new boat or an old one, you can normally sell it quickly and only lose $100-1000 or less.

As Gestalt notes, a new bike is also hugely cheaper; a $1k road bike will get you into A Grade at most clubs and into the middle of the Masters championships.

None of this means that foiling isn't great. It just means that the premier events that promote our sport should make the sport seem more accessible.

It's funny, people often complain that kids are playing computer games rather than doing windsurfing. Maybe the difference is that the computer game guys don't centre their promotion on games that cost 6000 euros and can't be done near many major cities.

CJW
NSW, 1424 posts
5 May 2018 10:56AM
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You can't really compare sailing to computer games though, even promotional wise. Anyone can go down to JB, spend $400 on a PS4, put in ~ 5hrs of play time and be 'destroying newbs' on the interballs. Promotion wise you can cater for almost any age, genre and interest you can come up with, the same can not be said for sailing, it's always been a sport for the privileged and Olympic sailing even more so.

Sailing requires a fairly large monetary outlay to get into the game and a bigger issue in terms of the younger generation, a large time and effort outlay to get even remotely competent at it. Most kids these days could not give two f*@#, if they can't get instant gratification, they aren't into it; generalisation I know but not too far off the mark.

In terms of windsurfing in the olympics, when is the last time you ever saw an RSX in the wild? I think i've seen one....EVER, and i'm someone who probably windsurfs an average of 3 times a week and have done so all over the country (and Maui ). They aren't relevant in any way shape or form to anything the recreational windsurfer does , freerider or free-racer. They are half race board, half formula board, overly compromised, overly ****. Foiling is only very new but already has gained big interest, even in the racing world. We had a fleet of 24-ish at the first Aus foil nationals, not bad. At least people can relate to it, the only issue I see is the wind limit issue and the chance of getting a non event at the olympics.

Regarding accessibility imo it doesn't really apply to olympic classes/olympic level sailing, it's a different world for better or worse. It's not like there is some perfect formula where every Joe and Sally can have a crack at the Olympic dream. There will always be those willing to dedicate their life to it. Unfortunately that means that if windfoiling becomes an olympic class and you happen to live on a gravel pit in the UK you'd better move somewhere else because there is already someone there dedicating their life to it.

AUS 814
NSW, 174 posts
5 May 2018 12:04PM
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From the articles on Sail World this week it seems that If windsurfing is to survive at the Olympics the powers to be would like it to be a foiling board, with racing consisting of course,slalom and marathon. Not saying it's good or bad but that's my interpretation of reading a very long article

da vecta
QLD, 2323 posts
5 May 2018 1:21PM
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Jusavina. Great video, thanks for posting!

jusavina
QLD, 1082 posts
5 May 2018 7:23PM
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Select to expand quote
Chris 249 said..
There's a fair bit of marketing spin in the promotional vid, like cliches that "this is the future" and the claim that windfoiling is accessible for everyone. Most sailors in England, for example, sail inland on dams, gravel pits and narrow rivers. Windfoiling can't work on such waters. It's not easy to see where windfoiling fleets could work on Sydney Harbour, on Long Island Sound near New York, or around Berlin or Hamburg. When a discipline appears to ignore such major population and sailing centres, it's hard to see that it can be called "accessible".

Referring to the fact that windfoilers can pass Nacras etc also seems irrelevant. The Lechner was the second fastest Olympic class in its day, only behind the 20ft Tornado cat; same with the IMCO. That didn't help Olympic windsurfing.

We used to have the equal fastest sailing craft in our city, a F18 cat. None of the kids really gave a flying f*ck about it - they just sailed their Optis and Lasers. If speed is what counts, wouldn't kitefoilers replace foiling windsurfers in the Olympics?

It's interesting to compare the way people talk about promoting sailing with the way people write about computer game design. The game designers are incomparably more sophisticated in the way they analyse and discuss concepts like rule sets and the factors that motivate people to play. They are vastly more respectful of simpler old forms of games, more interested in learning from them, and much more flexible when it comes to learning. They use insights from psychology and neuroscience, ranging from the way our eyes perceive colour to the factors that make experiences satisfying. No wonder they are more successful in attracting users!

In contrast, many of the concepts about sailing appear to be rigid and the creation of rather superficial thinking about very complex issues. Many of the lines in the windfoiling vid could have been taken from promotion for the Windglider, freestyle, the RSX, the Lechner or any other windsurfer type. "The kids are excited....this is faster....this is the future"...... they were cliches 20 years ago.

Sailing has been reducing its accessibility for decades. It's also recently dramatically increased speeds - and over the same period participation has been dropping just as dramatically. While windfoiling is great, to take the marquee event of the sport further down the wrong route can seem to be a pretty bad idea.


Off course it's cliche and basic, it's a video to the attention of World Sailing

windsufering
VIC, 555 posts
5 May 2018 7:45PM
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I hope Australia doesn't talk to world sailing

Chris 249
ACT, 1445 posts
5 May 2018 8:53PM
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Jsavina, you're probably right on the money.

Chris 249
ACT, 1445 posts
5 May 2018 9:07PM
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Select to expand quote
CJW said..
You can't really compare sailing to computer games though, even promotional wise. Anyone can go down to JB, spend $400 on a PS4, put in ~ 5hrs of play time and be 'destroying newbs' on the interballs. Promotion wise you can cater for almost any age, genre and interest you can come up with, the same can not be said for sailing, it's always been a sport for the privileged and Olympic sailing even more so.

Sailing requires a fairly large monetary outlay to get into the game and a bigger issue in terms of the younger generation, a large time and effort outlay to get even remotely competent at it. Most kids these days could not give two f*@#, if they can't get instant gratification, they aren't into it; generalisation I know but not too far off the mark.

In terms of windsurfing in the olympics, when is the last time you ever saw an RSX in the wild? I think i've seen one....EVER, and i'm someone who probably windsurfs an average of 3 times a week and have done so all over the country (and Maui ). They aren't relevant in any way shape or form to anything the recreational windsurfer does , freerider or free-racer. They are half race board, half formula board, overly compromised, overly ****. Foiling is only very new but already has gained big interest, even in the racing world. We had a fleet of 24-ish at the first Aus foil nationals, not bad. At least people can relate to it, the only issue I see is the wind limit issue and the chance of getting a non event at the olympics.

Regarding accessibility imo it doesn't really apply to olympic classes/olympic level sailing, it's a different world for better or worse. It's not like there is some perfect formula where every Joe and Sally can have a crack at the Olympic dream. There will always be those willing to dedicate their life to it. Unfortunately that means that if windfoiling becomes an olympic class and you happen to live on a gravel pit in the UK you'd better move somewhere else because there is already someone there dedicating their life to it.






The point about computer games is that they are vastly more sophisticated than sailing, in terms of working out how to appeal to people. Yes, video games are popular partly because they are more accessible in some ways - so why ignore that lesson? Why not try to learn from the more successful formula that they follow?

Whether sailing's been for the privileged depends on your definition of "privileged". When sailing was strong, there were many successful efforts to open it up. The Mirror was promoted by a left-wing newspaper as a boat for the average person - not the privileged. The US of the Moth was created for working-class kids in a city run by gangsters, to try to keep them out of trouble. The Vaurien, a very influential boat in France, originally cost as much as two cheap bikes - it was specifically designed to NOT be for "the privileged", just like the Opti, VJ and many other small boat classes.

Not even all Olympians are particularly privileged. The parents of some Australian Olympians and squad members have jobs like school aide, school cleaner, school teacher, or RAAF officer. Is a school teacher's kid who works as a carpentry apprentice particularly privileged?

Fair point about the RSX, but I wasn't defending it.

Sure, the Olympics and foiling aren't accessible to everyone - but in that case, Starboard shouldn't claim that foiling is, like they do in the vid. But the most popular parts of competitive sailing are the most accessible ones. If Olympic windsurfing is essentially prepared to say "tough luck if you live in the most populated areas" then it can't complain if it doesn't get support.

It's good that foiling can get 24 entries, but if that's "the future" then our sport has no future. If there is a wider future for the sport - a future that encompasses the full breadth of this fantastic thing we all love - then surely we can object to marketing bull**** that claims there is only one future, and that is one that cannot be done by most people. Yep, the claims are spin and hyperbole, but in that case those who made them cannot complain if we respond in the same sort of way.

windsufering
VIC, 555 posts
5 May 2018 9:15PM
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The new Windsurfer LT will have a larger fleet than the foiling aust champs

RichardG
WA, 1298 posts
5 May 2018 10:26PM
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Foiling is not the only form of windsurfing. It is one form only. Making it the Olympic class seems dumb just as the Windglider was dumb. Just as replacing IMCO MOD with RSX was dumb. Now we have RSX why can't we keep it even though in the words of another "it is a piece of junk" and it is the rarest windsurfer class in Australia.The Finn and Laser are much older classes.

boardsurfr
487 posts
5 May 2018 11:11PM
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As much as I love windsurfing, the sport has a number of big problems:
- to youngsters, the typical back-and-forth sailing is not attractive - it looks downright boring
- to the older generation, occasional windsurfing in chop can be to stressful for aging bodies (a common reason for switching to kiting)
- many windsurf spots rarely have the strong wind required for planing on reasonably small gear

Foiling "solves" all these issues. Last week, we had successful foil races when neither formula boards nor current longboards with 9.5 race sails were planing, and it looked cool:


Going fast in a very light breeze definitely will be attractive to many teens and young adults. With proper gear, it's easy enough to learn - I saw one guy on his first-ever run getting a few nice glides in, without any major crashes. Anyone attracted by foiling will (probably?) still have to learn windsurfing first. The foilers I talked to loved it, but all still windsurf when the wind picks up (or when they want to freestyle, wave sail, ...).

So "foiling is the future of windsurfing" may be an overstatement, but it seems likely that foiling will help attracting new windsurfers, and help current windsurfers have fun in a wider range of conditions.


windsufering
VIC, 555 posts
6 May 2018 6:18AM
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The largest fleets in windsurfing was when it was Old school .

windsufering
VIC, 555 posts
6 May 2018 6:24AM
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The RSX had the second largest fleet in the Olympics and world sailing aren't happy

Paddles B'mere
QLD, 1217 posts
6 May 2018 8:18AM
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Surely this is just a push; by the industry; through the governing bodies; to get some free "marketing" and will do stuff all to promote the sport of windsurfing.

fjdoug
ACT, 399 posts
6 May 2018 9:07AM
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a good outcome might be kids and adults together on Windsurfer LTs reviving club racing and the Formula sailors, pros and Olympians mixing it up on foils , I reckon an 8.6 max is a good idea.

maybe BIC will bring back the Techno Formula with an aluminium foil for the price of the current BIC one design ?
* they could do a special price for existing BIC sailors who already have rigs.

azuli
QLD, 115 posts
14 May 2018 8:09AM
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World Sailing's events committee votes to retain Windsurfing in the 2024 Olympics and replace the RS:X with a new board:

Men's / Women's Windsurfer:
1 registered production board
Maximum of 3 registered production rigs
1 registered production foil and 2 registered production fins
The equipment must be able to launch from the beach and be suitable for winds from 6-30 knots
and both racing formats and slalom.

"The disciplines should include slalom and may include a long distance race and/or short course racing or other suitable disciplines, with a combined score determining the places."

cammd
QLD, 1622 posts
14 May 2018 9:07AM
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First off its great news WS are retaining Windsurfing in the Olympics, that's a big positive

I think for windsurfing to stay in, the RSX had to go for no other reason than its had its time, 4 Olympic cycles, it's had a good run and did a good job. Look at the realities of what it's delivered in terms of participation from developing countries and gender equality etc and it has delivered good racing around the world for many years.

I think we all knew the RSX wasn't going to be retained we just hoped windsurfing would be and it has.

I'm a big fan of One Design but from a grass roots level, that is funding kids to sail, I am thinking it might be cheaper to keep them sailing on gear that isn't one design. Sure a full race foil is 3k at the moment but this years foils will be half price next year as new one come to market. Slalom sails are cheap as chips, you can't get a decent second hand RSX sail but you can get very good very cheap slalom or formula sails S/H.
I have two kids in techno and a older son in raceboard and formula. I was thinking there is no way I can afford two RSX kits in the future but some S/H slalom sails and an old formula board seems very doable when the kids outgrow techno. Hopefully S/H foils are abundant and cheap when that time comes.

I haven't had the chance to foil yet but I have been on a few start lines with them and for someone who initially thought it was a fad I am changing my point of view. The speed and angles and range of conditions they can operate in are impressive.

Nothing stays the same, windsurfing should embrace the decision and make the most out of it.

Congrats to the kites for getting a berth as well.

azuli
QLD, 115 posts
14 May 2018 9:53AM
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Yeah, agree the RS:X did a great job but it's time was up.

Am not sure but the description of the new format seems to be moving away from traditional windward/leeward course racing towards something similar to the events being run in the Japan PWA event at the moment (Slalom & Foil)...will be interesting to see what equipment they end up choosing.

It seems kites have replaced the Finn dinghy's spot in the event list.

Chris 249
ACT, 1445 posts
14 May 2018 10:36AM
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I've never been an RSX fan and think slalom would be great. But opening up the Games to gear that's not one design could kill Olympic windsurfing because of the cost. In most racing, manufacturers find sales by selling the fastest gear, not the cheapest. Compare the cost of some 3.3m (approx) Optimist sails or 7-8m sails for an OK, Sabre or Moth compared to the (much lower) cost of an Olympic Laser sail - the Opti sail can cost the same (or more) despite being half the size. And of course that's before you start buying a range of different sails for different conditions, or when you or your kid changes their weight, and that's not even counting trialling different sails or getting them cut for you.

To show the extremes of what could happen, how much would you spend on a top-level velodrome racing bike - the cheap ones with no gears or brakes. Well, depending on who you believe, the "production" bikes the Brits used in the 2012 Olympics would cost you from $25,000-50,000 for the frame to $148,219.22 for the complete bike. Yes, that's one hundred and forty eight thousand bucks. For a pushbike. One pushbike.

Of course, no one pays that much - because despite being "production" bikes, the British Olympic team won't sell you one. Well, they say they will, so they qualify as "production bikes" - but they won't tell you when delivery will occur, and apparently not surprisingly no one has coughed up $32-150k for a bike that may be delivered to them in 2031 - or maybe 2055.

The British cycling team has a budget of $60 million quid or so each Olympiad, and one can assume the sailing team is in the same category. That sort of resources allowed the 2000 British sailing team to spend $20,000 on ONE mast for the slowest boat in the Games, the 11 ft Europe dinghy. So what happened to the Europe? It was thrown out of the Games because not many countries wanted to get into a spending war with the Brits. The Laser Radial came in.

There seems to be no way of creating rules that will not stop open-supply windsurfing becoming dominated by a British team (or other team) that is happy to spend literally millions of dollars developing gear to give them a tiny winning edge, and that will NOT be available to other buyers. Not only that, the "production" gear can be developed so closely to what the top sailors of that country prefer that it's not much use to Joe or Joanna Average, in the same way that the British track bikes are developed to be great for a gold medallist developing huge amounts of power on a perfect indoor track, which is not what Joe or Joanna Average need for their B Grade racing on a bumpy outdoor track.

The idea that manufacturers will compete on price and allow everyone to buy affordable top-level gear is nice, but decades of history show that the opposite occurs. Oh, and of course as the Brit cyclists have also found, once you allow "secret squirrel" gear then you can control your own nation's athletes - if they don't train with the squad they get charged full price for the gear. That stops anyone from outside the Chosen Ones doing anything naughty like winning the trials.

KA360
NSW, 645 posts
14 May 2018 10:39AM
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WOW ! that is a better format than I could have ever imagined WS deciding on. Will be spectacular to watch for both windsurfers and the public.
The icing on the cake would be if Ben Proffit is the Olympic commentator

normster
NSW, 106 posts
14 May 2018 11:46AM
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I wouldn't be surprised if Windgenuity are working on foiling kit for the new LT right now - problem solved

Al Planet
TAS, 1348 posts
14 May 2018 11:51AM
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Ok so Finns got replaced by Kites ,mens and womens combined ? Is that like Richard Branson demonstrated a few years ago .....except with foils which will be impressive or maybe some sort of relay? Good result but trying to understand the process is like a trip into the matrix.

cammd
QLD, 1622 posts
14 May 2018 11:58AM
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chris249 - How does a team get a "production" piece of equipment registered if it is clearly a one off and not available to the general public.

Why can't foilers work in Sydney Harbour, or Hamburg or Berlin or inland lakes

What's a $1000 push bike got to do with sailing, you can't even buy a new Wally for that money

Chris 249
ACT, 1445 posts
14 May 2018 1:55PM
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Select to expand quote
cammd said..
chris249 - How does a team get a "production" piece of equipment registered if it is clearly a one off and not available to the general public.


Easy. They don't have to be one-offs; just make 25 identical boards according to the regs. Then give them to your team.

Oh, and yes, put them "on sale to the public" just like the Brits did with their bikes. Say people they can buy them for say $40,000, whenever they happen to become available. Of course, the guys who build them are busy maintaining the Olympic squad gear and preparing a new design for the next 25 boards, so they may not have time to build them for.... oh maybe 20 years? But of course they'll take your money - up front.

Bikes are under a similar rule, and the Brits got around that very easily by just saying their track bikes were "on sale" at an unspecified price and to be delivered at an unspecified date.

Sure, World Sailing could put in more rules - but what ones? How do you define what is "on sale to the public"?? If Team GB for example put them "on sale fo the public" on a wet Sunday down a back alley in a village in the Scottish Highlands for 10 minutes without telling anyone, does it count? Or do you put in rules that mean a manufacturer has to build enough boards to put them in stock in shops in every major city in the world?

How does World Sailing enforce other rules? British Olympic sailing has over 46 million bucks for the current OIympics. If they decide to spend just 2.5 million designing, testing, prototyping and them building 25 windsurfers for the team, they could very legitimately say that they are worth $100,000 each and that's therefore what they will sell them for, which seems to be what they did with bikes.

World Sailing could put on a maximum price - but there's plenty of ways around that, and I'm not sure if it's actually legal in many countries. Or you could put in lots of complex rules - but there's ways around that. For example, World Sailing tried to ensure that everyone used the same Europe class mast, so they designed incredibly tight rules that only one mast (the Marstrom) fitted. So the Brits spent lots of money on development, bought a complete ONE TONNE billet of aluminium (the only way to get the length without having a joint) and machined it down to form the mandril for the mast for an 11 footer. They laid up their special carbon, then sanded it from the inside so that it bent just right for the custom-designed bend for their Olympian Shirley Robertson's size and sailing style and still conformed to the ultra-tight rules.

That was the end of the Europe's period in the Games. Not many countries wanted to spend $20,000 (in 2000 values) per mast.

By the way, a current standard production mast for a Europe costs $2700 Oz, not counting freight or GST. That's for a 50 year old boat that is smaller and slower than a Laser. That's over twice as much as a new Laser mast with carbon top section - yet more proof that open-design development classes cost more.

Chris 249
ACT, 1445 posts
14 May 2018 2:18PM
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Select to expand quote
cammd said..

Why can't foilers work in Sydney Harbour, or Hamburg or Berlin or inland lakes




Well, it could in some areas. But many areas, like the ones mentioned, people very often sail in light and fluky winds, and it seems that to make grass-roots competition and training work you need to be able to sail at a certain time each week, whether or not it's 9 knots with big shifts and lulls to 6 knots or less, or with a big hole near the windward mark. Or when the major event for the year gets wind like this...

We can see that in the sort of other craft that people sail in the major population areas. As one example, there's only one cat fleet and one (small and not very active) foiler fleet in all of Sydney Harbour, because most people there prefer stuff that handles enclosed and fluky waterways better. It's the same in Berlin, Hamburg, Long Island etc. People there aren't stupid or wimpy, they choose other types because other types work better in those major cities.

Foiling could work in really well if they go ahead with the multi-discipline approach at the Olympics, but to have a foiler as the only class for windsurfing would seem to exclude a lot of people. There's no reason for them to be ****ting all over the rest of the sport with their claim that there is only ONE future for windsurfing.



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"Foiling at the Olympics" started by jusavina