Olympic sailing should be hard
Since the catamaran was eliminated from the 2012 Olympics, there has been more discussion than I can ever recall as to what types of events should be in the Olympics. I have endorsed the five discipline position, wherein the events should represent singlehanded and doublehanded dinghies, multihulls, keelboats, and boards. These are the main roads in our sport, and this approach provides the most talented sailors with the ultimate goal to seek.
Sailing is allowed 10 Olympic events, and the choice of which boats are to be used in each event is a harder choice - a choice that will be made in May for the 2016 Olympics. However, my contention is that whatever the choice, the ability to sail the boat must be hard too. Excellence in the Olympics must require extreme commitment, maturity, and skill. These tools take time to earn, and it is during this time when the audience gets to meet the sailors. If the sport is eager to broaden its audience, it must first allow the audience to meet and respect the competitors.
In January I was afforded the opportunity to observe nearly 800 sailors from 53 countries prepare for the Rolex Miami OCR, the elite Olympic and Paralympic event in the United States. During my limited time I came away with three distinct impressions:
These three classes are the most senior of the Olympics events, and are the most commonly criticized in today’s effort to stimulate audience interest in the Olympics. I don’t disagree that the novelty of the foiling International Moth and the dynamism of the Kite event will provide stunning visuals. But I want substance too.
For me, I want the Olympics to be hard. I would prefer not to see teenagers on the podium, but rather seasoned athletes who have paid dearly for the privilege to wear the medal, to see their flag flown, and to have their country applaud them. That to me is what the Olympic Games is all about. - Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt editor
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