After all the discussions about the class rules and the limitation to maximum 3 kites this proved to be unnecessary – everybody felt comfortable on the big kites and it looked like the sailors can hold on to one kite for the full wind range of the Olympic sailing competition. Around 1600 in the afternoon – with still 16-18 knots on the course and 1-1.5m rolling swell – the last format on the list was tested. A windward/leeward double gate course, but with a reaching start at the top and run in heats of six sailors. The starts were exciting, if sailors are fighting for the best line with board speeds of 30 knots, the downwind and upwind parts were tactical with a lot of position changes, and the final reach produced quite some photo finishes. For those that have seen the Americas Cup World Series Course – this is pretty much what it is. The same excitement, but for a fraction of the costs.
The additional thrill of this course that it would be run in elimination series – instead of a medal race, a series of heats with the top 16 would be held, with the last 2 eliminated after each heat, until the final four heat – the winner takes gold, the last one gets only a sorry. Finally in sailing, a story can be told with all the excitement and drama that other sports have, this is the way to build heroes.
The remaining two days were meant to fine tune the courses and prepare the reports, however on day 4 the breeze kicked in at late afternoon and some racers headed out from the harbor to the race courses of the multihulls and skiffs to battle them – well appreciated by the sailors of the other classes to showcase different kinds of high performance sailing.
The final outcome of the evaluation trials is to hold fleet racing on a new box slalom course, adding equipment handling skills to the required tactical sailing plus having reaching legs for better spectator understanding, and a short track course for the new medal race series, with the winner taking it all.
In the later evening and on Sunday the trials finally came to an end – with another discussion between the ISAF evaluation panel and the sailors how to progress from here to get kiteboarding into the Olympic Games 2016.
The options on the table are:
– windsurfing only
– kiteboarding only
– team events of both sports
Let’s hope ISAF is taking a wise decision in the interest of the sport – the International Olympic Committee is watching us, and we hope that sailing got the message to bring new and young sailors into the sport, especially from emerging nations. The best to do so is surely through kiteboarding. After this week in Santander no one has a doubt about that.