In the Olympic spirit?

31 07 2008

So I’m one for pushing the limits in everything to do with sailing.  If it’s inside the rules, then you should be able to do it.  However, I’ve been following the story of the olympic Tornado sailors using a new type of spinnaker, and i have to say i’m pretty annoyed about it.

a week before the Olympics starts, Mitch Booth has announced he may be using a new spinnaker that is smaller and flatter, as an extra sail for upwind sailing.  Basically, they can leave the thing up all race, and it is ideal for the lightwinds expected in China.

As mentioned earlier, I feel that any idea that is within the rule is fair game, and it’s great to see sailors thinking outside the box of conventions.  However, the Olympics is all about the spirit of sport.  This is hardly a well spirited move, to come up with such a devastatingly effective tactic so close to the games, to virtually prevent any other sailors having a chance of medalling.  In practice races, the upwind spinnaker was almost 3 knots faster upwind.  Ok, yes I understand that they are professional sailors and they have to think about the final outcome, but just put yourself in the shoes of another Tornado sailor.  You’ve trained for years for this event, you’ve put your life on hold and spent thousands of whatever currency you use to pay the bills.  Suddenly, all chances of winning a medal have gone because some smart ass has had a brainwave.  The olympics should be about the sailors skill, not the development of his kit…

Chris Boardman won an Olympic gold in Atlanta with his Lotus carbon bike, almost lapping his rival in the gold medal race.  Was this fair?  Originally I would have said yes, but then again, think about the other guy.  maybe he was a better sprinter, but he didn’t have a carbon bike.  Did the best athlete win on the day?

So, will the best sailors win in the Tornado fleet?  This is a question that can’t have a yes or no answer, because the truth is, unfortunately, we will never find out.  And this is the last time we will ever see the boat in the games!  This is going to ruin the memory of the tornado for many people for a long time.  What a bad year to be a Tornado sailor…



8 responses

2 08 2008

How very interesting! I think these days this is the main problem with sport. It can be seen in almost all forms of sport, look at motor racing, does the car win or the driver? Look at golf, yes Tiger is amazing and all, but how far and how accurate would Palmer or Nicklaus have been using the same clubs?

Technology is good to improve sport, but it has to stay a level playing field. So in your example here, if this guy has a new “spinnaker” (I’ve no idea what this is) then everyone should have it.

2 08 2008

It’s a sail that is hoisted when we’re going downwind. These guys have made one at the last minute that can be used all the way round, so they get a huge advantage. Think of an f1 car that has a NOS button held down permanantly….

3 08 2008

Why hasnt this been thought of before? Cos i’m sure F1 have thought about NOS but it aint allowed 😛

3 08 2008

Is this legal in the Tornado class? Is it not a one design class or what? I do agree though, this is very unsportsman like and should not be allowed. its to late to let everyone have it so just take it away from them. i would LOVE to see them get there asses kicked if they didnt have the new spinnaker. We had a similar cituation here in minnesota. we sail these boats called A scows. Basically a 38 foot surf board that can do 30 downwind! Anyways, its a one design class but the ILYA never put strict design rules because only one company have ever made the boat in the 100 plus years its been around. Well this dude asked the ILYA if he could change a few things that were small, he went along and made his own boat that looked like an a scow but had a different hull shape and so on. The boat was faster by a good bit. The question was, is it legal? Probably… but is that good spor? I think things like this are not a bad thing but should not be interduced to a class this way or it will kill the class. Theres my two cents!

4 08 2008

@m0shy: It wasn’t done before because it would only work in a very lightwind venue. You have to use the same spinnaker all event, so any other venue you’d be forced to use it when the breeze got up. however, in china, the sailing area is almost definately going to be light no wind all week, so it’s the first venue where the spinnaker is viable.

@Gavin: Sometimes people have to spend a lot of money and time to get a boat that is fastest, no mattehow skilled the sailor is. It’s a shame when this happens in smaller classes where people do it for the joy of racing, as it takes away the amateur spirit associated with the sport.

4 08 2008

i didnt know china was that bad for wind. i would hate to be a 49er sailor this olympics! i hope it just blows, then they would be fucked.

8 08 2008

I totally agree with you, its about as sportsman like as punching a girl in the face.
If they use it and win gold I’m sure the media, and fellow sailors won’t be handing them the big ups, A hollow Gold medal if you ask me. However it wont harm their future careers in whatever they chose to do (as they can’t sail tornado’s for a living anymore) as everyone likes to employ an “out of the box” thinker.

26 08 2008

Marksey if the rules say that you are allowed to punch a girl in the face, and then you could win gold, would you? It was allowed by the rules, and as Ian Barker said, “rules are rules,” and they should govern the sport, not some vague ideas about being sportsmanlike.

It wasn’t unfair (Rule 2) so it was allowed. And it got spanked!

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