I need hardly mention what an epic summer of sport it’s been for us in the UK. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic events managed to bring a usually sullen and sceptical nation together in a manner that was unprecedented.
Our man Dempsey winning silver in RS:X Windsurfing was the cherry on top of the cake.
A great showcase
It was especially encouraging to witness one of my true loves being highlighted in such a positive way. Windsurfing was showcased in all its glory – as a planing sport (most of the time). Competitors jockeyed for position and the visuals were exciting for the crowd – a far cry from the light wind pumpathon of Beijing!
The Beeb did a worthy job of getting some coverage onto main stream TV and bar the odd gaff they should be congratulated as well.
The only slight marring of proceedings was hearing the RS:X Class was to be axed from Rio a few weeks before. The toing and froing in the ISAF camp caused uproar within windsurfing – which was quite ironic considering most sailors couldn’t have given a hoot traditionally regarding Olympic Windsurfing.
As soon as the announcement had been made though, every windsurfer seemed to band together calling for a revoke. But it seemed hopeless…kitesurfing was in and windsurfing was out! Or so we thought…
How things change
This weekend just gone has seen an about turn after plenty of lobbying from various parties. What was thought to be a decision set in stone now seems to have not been the case and as I write this kiting is now out and windsurfing is back in!
You have to feel for the kitesurfers. Trying to get a discipline included in the Olympics is no easy feat and just when victory was within reach it’s been plucked away in the blink of an eye.
Of course this is great news for windsurfers. We will now see our sport represented in the gladiatorial arena that is the Olympic Games – but there should be no reason why kitesurfing isn’t there alongside its big brother.
Lending a hand
Traditionally there has always been a ‘them and us’ attitude between windies and danglers (the same exists in other forms of water sports as well – surfers v bodyboarders) and yet it’s this kind of childish mentality that breeds contempt.
We’re all like minded individuals who are after the same thing – fun. Many people nowadays practice a variety of different activities (myself included) and this type of thinking should be whole heartedly embraced.
With windsurfing now back on the Olympic agenda we should doing our utmost to step up and help the kiters get their slice of the pie. The two sports together would make for a great spectacle.
I appreciate that some other discipline would need to be dropped but as dinghy sailing is already heavily represented at Olympic events surely one of the lesser participated classes is good for the chop?
This summer in Weymouth saw windsurfing represented as it should be. A planing sport showing (for the most part) exactly what most recreational sailors do on the water – blasting and gybing.
If the loose ends of Olympic Kitesurf competition could be tied up and the same representation achieved then why not get the sport included as well?
Rio is now going to be a tricky task for RS:X Windsurfing. The sailing venue is notorious for its light breezes, which echoes that of Beijing. It would be sad to revert back to how it was then – boring, technical and dull entertainment for punters.
Between now and 2016 RS:X needs to ask itself some serious questions and try and reinvent itself. This though may be an impossible task due to the time constraints involved.
An old favourite – one possibility
One simple solution would be to bring back indoor windsurfing.
This concept worked relatively well in the past and with advancements in fan technology (smaller and quieter) it would be possible to stage a dramatic and exciting competition that could be held anywhere – not just a coastal venue.
Some may argue that this is not a true representation of the sport but ultimately we have to brush aside our doubts and focus on bringing windsurfing to the masses and putting on a show.
Indoor windsurfing allows spectators a ringside view of all the action and if some form of freestyle/jump competition was included alongside man on man knock-out slalom racing then this would be a great advert for the sport.
Understandably kitesurfing wouldn’t be able to adopt this concept and they have their own crinkles to iron out but we should at least lend our support where we can.
It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out over the next four years that’s for sure but both windsurfing AND kitesurfing get my vote – will the two disciplines get yours?