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Reshape the Olympics

In December, senior editor Stuart Streuli posted on www.sailingworld.com a three-part series on re-energizing the Olympic regatta. A synopsis follows; the full text is available online.

> Like many sailors, I was disappointed in ISAF's change to the scoring for the 2008 Olympics. (See "Olympic Scoring Weighted for 2008," Jan./Feb. 2006) I was hoping they'd do a lot more. Olympic sailing is in trouble. The International Olympic Committee has designs on cutting one discipline for the 2012 Games in London and that should make sailors worried about further reductions in the future. The Olympics are a business, and sailing doesn't help the bottom line. Sailing costs $200,000 a day to televise and brings in very little. The sport also makes hosting the Games troublesome for inland cities, which must develop a separate venue. At some point, the hassle and expense could outweigh the IOC's sentimental ties to an original Olympic sport.

> With two and a half years to prepare for Qingdao, there are plenty of things ISAF can push for to improve access to the sport: 1. Get spectator boats for each circle; 2. Allow public access to the venue; 3. Bring the racing close to shore so people can see it.

> ISAF needs to approach the 2012 Olympics in London as if sailing's Olympic future is on the line. Fortunately, the English people appreciate sailing. However, the Olympic format needs a drastic overhaul. The regatta should have two parts, a six-race preliminary, with one throwout, after which the top 10 to 15 boats move into a five-race final, without any throwouts. Finally, the classes need to change. The Laser, Radial, 49er, and two windsurfing classes should stay. As should the Tornado and the 470, although the latter should be designated a coed class, with one person of each sex on each boat. The final three disciplines-two for fleet racing and one for match racing-should be leading-edge performance keelboats with spinnakers and, possibly, trapezes; designs that are exiting for sailors and spectators.

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