Home >

Sailweb  RSS feed

Mark Turner and how to sort out the dinghy/Olympic sailing world

Mark Turner, the new CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, has released his notes for a presentation to the ISAF Conference back in 2013 (now World Sailing) on how to develop the dinghy/Olympic sailing world to take it up a level.Turner never gave the presentation. Just half an hour before he was due to speak, the ISAF Executive Committee for a reason he was never given directly or openly, decided to pull it.

Now he has released the content in his blog . . .

And here is my one minute suggestion, if anyone cares, about what could be the game-changer for sailing in the Olympics (and maybe with a big positive impact on the whole sport).

Not enough time in my busy Volvo Ocean Race days to write a long piece explaining all my thinking and logic, and of course there are always hurdles to overcome with positive change, but I have to say my ideas haven’t changed much in two years so I guess I”m pretty keen still on this direction.

And I see some of those ideas are starting to be talked about too. All good news, there is hope!

So combine boosting World Cup properly (and make it count to get Olympic slots), and change the Olympic classes to the following for 2020, its not too late . . . my Lausanne neighbour and occasional acquintance Mr Dubi at the IOC I am sure will agree with a chunk of this.

So . . . in brief my Olympic proposal, viewed from a much wider place in sailing than dinghy sailing – traditionally the slice of sailing that the Olympics has covered (from a much much wider sport) –

A. Keep the Laser for men and Laser Radial for women. Deals with accessibility to the sport on global low cost basis.

Then stop worrying about that point, and blow the world away with what this amazing sport has to offer . . .

B. Add a class/event that is made for Television and demostrates the incredible teamwork aspect of sailing – 4 person catamaran, foiling, stadium sailing mode – 2 or 3 men and 2 women on a GC32/M32/Extreme30/Diam24 type boat. TV will love it.

Fleet racing, Extreme Sailing Series (ESS) style, 8 races a day, 3 days, winner at the end. Lots of races, as we learnt with ESS (but others haven’t), means that Stadium format or fluky winds aren’t an issue because you do enough races that the best always come to the top – doesn’t work if you do just 3 or 4 races.

No need to reinvent, just use all the learnings of 10 years of Extreme Sailing Series. TEAMWORK at the fore. Mixed/diversity, can’t beat it.

Provided as One Design, using an existing circuit boat, this does not blow budgets away, it marries the pro-circuits with the Olympics (which is professional as we all know these days in virtually all other sports), and uses the funds in those other parts of sailing.

By adding an event that is made for TV, it also takes the pressure of some of the other classes in terms of trying to fit their product and format preference (e.g. longer courses, further offshore, few races in better wind, etc).

C. Add Offshore sailing in keelboats (real ones), in single-handed mode, mixed (ie no need to have male and female, in this format its about as equal footing as it gets) – am certain Beneteau would invest with the next Figaro 3 32ish foot boat if it could be the boat as an example (and owners would offer up their boats to their national hopefuls) –

400 mile offshore, 24/7 action for 3 days like no other sport can do, works across timezones, live feeds and audio, tracking, we all know how to bring this alive.

Its the 10 km swim for sailing, the marathon, but soooo much better for TV - and tests the ultimate skills. Could consider a 2 or 4 up version, but think its getting us in to number of athlete problems . . . which are limited.

Also great for host country – TV images along their coastline . . . like no other sport can do. And its a breeding ground and stepping stone for these sailors to go on to the sport’s pinnacle pro events like the Volvo.

D. Maybe keep the 49er/29er as performance monohull . . . the step up from the Laser.

E. I guess keep Windsurfing or Kitesurfing, I’m not qualified to speak too much about them.

And we’re done. TV happy and public wow’ed by both Stadium sailing and the toughness of offshore, best diversity platform in Olympic sport (mixed events).

Preserves accessibility for all nations to the Olympics, showcases our great values of teamwork, creates heroes, creates pathways in and out (ie pre- and post- Olympics) for the athletes.

All together we get to show the spectrum of the sport, gives World Sailing some kind of new and currently non-existing legitmacy for first time across the whole sport rather than just the dinghy world, and links non-Olympic pros and the Olympic pros circuits and funding models (very importantly for all the athletes).

OK, no time edit, check, consider . . . voila my off the cuff thoughts!

Enjoy, disagree, ignore, I’m not fussed . . . just needed to get it out of my brain to free some space on the very full hard drive!

Mark Turner

Follow Sailweb on Facebook - Click here