Lasers in the Olympics - Good or Bad for the Class?

Lasers in the Olympics - Good or Bad for the Class?

  • Yes - good for the class

    Votes: 16 48.5%
  • No - bad for the class

    Votes: 8 24.2%
  • Neutral - advantages and disadvantages balance out ('ish)

    Votes: 9 27.3%

  • Total voters
    33

torrid

Just sailing
Thread starter #1
This is a spill-over from the latest discussion on a new sail. Do you think having the Laser as an Olympic class has been a benefit or a burden for the class as a whole?

I honestly cannot answer one way or another. It's a definite mixed bag in my book.

I think one of the biggest issues is control of the class rules. Everything now has to go through the ISAF and is subject to four year cycles. It has definitely delayed the development of a better sail. However, I'm not sure the rigging upgrades ever would have happend with out Olympic status.

Another issue is bringing people to the class, or excluding them. Any national level event is obviously now the domain of the elite Olympic sailors and their coach boats. We never had on-the-water judging before, and in my opinion wasn't needed (we policed ourselves).

Conversely, I think Olympic status has really opened up Masters sailing. Many former Olympians obviously stay around and compete as they get older. And I think the Masters events have largely replaced the open championships as an outlet for average Sunday sailors.

Overall, having Olympic status doesn't have much bearing on my weekend sailing.
 
#6
I think of the "good" or "bad" in terms of getting more people out racing in Lasers. I tend to think that most people who cannot sail need to be taught before they will rush out and buy a Laser. Most people who know how to sail will be well aware of the Laser when considering what class of dinghy to get.

The best hope is that it might remind some people whose Laser has not left the dinghy park for years that they have a Laser and maybe it is time to check it out and get it back on the water. But something caused them to stop before so will they stick at it or will the same problems interfere but this time they ask why they are paying to stay a member of a club they never use and sell boat/leave club.

In the UK at the moment there is a lot of discussion about how the Olympics encourages general participation in sport. We "won" the hosting in 2012 based largely on the legacy hosting the event would give the UK. Ignoring the infrastructure and facilities (which seem to be a bit of a white elephant), studies show that whilst there is increased participation in sport following an Olympics, this is short-lived with most people giving-up quickly (this is in the UK, all sports NOT sailing and NOT the Laser event). The sports that tend to see the most new participants are those where we won medals (i.e. increased TV coverage). Hopefully some people will decide to learn to sail and some will like it and stick with it. This is good for sailing and not specifically for the Laser class. Once those few have learnt and assuming they have enough money to join a club, buy a boat, etc. then they will consider either finding somebody to crew for or what boat to buy. I suspect the number of new Laser sailors through this will be very very low.

The class is already very prominent - most clubs have quite a few and most will have a Laser fleet. There must be very few dinghy sailors who are not aware of the Laser and what it is. We don't need the publicity.

So with no real positives what are the negatives.
1. ISAF interference - how does that help those of us who go out club/regatta racing.
2. It seems major changes tend to be delayed until after an Olympics - slowing important decisions (major negative).
3. When something is shown on TV with the top sportspeople participating there is an assumption it must be very difficult - the most difficult challenge. This can scare people off. People think "maybe I should go for something easier".

Probably more when I think about it further.

Ian
 

gouvernail

Active Member
#8
<<<snip>>> I think Olympic status has really opened up Masters sailing. Many former Olympians obviously stay around and compete as they get older. And I think the Masters events have largely replaced the open championships as an outlet for average Sunday sailors.

<<snip>>
I have not see Nick, John, or Mark at masters events.


Onteh other hand, I can attest to the fact that the top tier of NA sailors has been purging itself from the game after each Olympic Trials.

Chasing thart one berth is such a huge letdown for all but teh top guy I think it is the reason they wander off a soon as their "campaign" ends.

As for the guy who goes, he doesn't seem to thrilled about sailing with us normal guys and our normal events anymore either.

Make any excuses you wish but I doubt anyone's desription of a way to run a successful sailing organization would include, drive away the top five to ten guys every four years.
 
#10
I accept that there are downsides to the Olympic status, but in balance I think it's a good thing.

The Olympics isn't just about the 30-40 sailors who actually qualify and race in the Olympics. There are hundreds of sailors around the world right now who are dedicating their lives to reaching the Olympics. This is definitely benefitting the class and the sport. People are racing Lasers in countries that had never heard of sailing before, because it's an Olympic class and because it's cheap and accessible. This is helping the sport and the class grow in a real way. At the Sydney Olympics (and possibly since), more countries were represented in the Laser event than in any other event in any other sport. Many of them were countries that had never had a sailing competitor at the Olympics before.

Laser racing is a competitive sport, and the whole point of competitive sport is to always strive to go faster. The Olympics adds a whole new level of competition to our sport, and these guys and girls are constantly raising the bar to a new level of excellence as they train harder and find ways to make Lasers go faster. I love that in our sport I get to race against the best of the best, and I don't care that they nearly always beat me - One race out of a hundred they don't, and that's what I race for. The better the competition is the more fun I have, and the Olympics creates better competition. And at the end of the day, the top sailors nearly always seem approachable and happy to give advice to the rest of us.

There are thousands of kids sailing Optis to whom the Olympic Laser sailors are heroes. They mob them to get their autographs, they pin pictures of them on their bedroom walls. Most importantly they aspire to be like them, and you can be sure that when the time comes to move into a new class, this puts Lasers at the top of their list. How can that be a bad thing?
 

jeffers

Active Member
#11
I think is some ways it is good and some ways it is bad.

On the good side:

Worldwide exposure
Easily recognisable even to non-sailors

On the bad side

Too much 'red-tape'
Creates a void in competition between International level and national level.

My reasoning behind these.

Whenever I chat to people who are non-sailors and I mention i sail a Laser 9 times out of 10 I get 'Oh isn't that the boat that Ben Ainslie sailed at the Olympics (regardless of the fact the has sailed sailed a Finn for the last 2).

On the down side it seems that there are far too many restrictions on the slow progress of the class (it has to be slow given the nature of the 1-design aspect, you do not want to obsolete 99% of the boats by making a change). Adding the top level of the ISAF and Olympic red tape makes this progress even slower and means that beneficial changes (such as new controls and new sails) have to wait for the end of an Olympic cycle.
 
#12
I accept that there are downsides to the Olympic status, but in balance I think it's a good thing.

There are thousands of kids sailing Optis to whom the Olympic Laser sailors are heroes. They mob them to get their autographs, they pin pictures of them on their bedroom walls. Most importantly they aspire to be like them, and you can be sure that when the time comes to move into a new class, this puts Lasers at the top of their list. How can that be a bad thing?
Absolutely spot on....We have just got back from the British optimist national champs at the new 2012 olympic venue in Weymouth/Portland. Nearly 500 boats!!!! Most of the British Olympic team were also there training for Skandia sail for gold next week and were idolised by the young Oppie sailors.

The whole idea of the Olympics really matters to these yougsters, My 9 year old daughter waited patiently for 30 mins to have Sarah Ayton and Saskia Clark sign her buoyancy aid, she is now asking "how long before i can sail a 470?. My son, who is in his last year in Oppies and looking for his next boat, will not consider any other than a 4.7. He wants to sail the Olympic boat.

When i show new sailors and prospective members around our sailing club, They always comment on the Laser as an "olympic boat" it carries with it a huge cache.
 

Rob B

Active Member
#13
Absolutely spot on....We have just got back from the British optimist national champs at the new 2012 olympic venue in Weymouth/Portland. Nearly 500 boats!!!! Most of the British Olympic team were also there training for Skandia sail for gold next week and were idolised by the young Oppie sailors.

The whole idea of the Olympics really matters to these yougsters, My 9 year old daughter waited patiently for 30 mins to have Sarah Ayton and Saskia Clark sign her buoyancy aid, she is now asking "how long before i can sail a 470?. My son, who is in his last year in Oppies and looking for his next boat, will not consider any other than a 4.7. He wants to sail the Olympic boat.

When i show new sailors and prospective members around our sailing club, They always comment on the Laser as an "olympic boat" it carries with it a huge cache.
I'm curious about the class membership. It's been my impression that we've been in a downturn for everal years now. Is that the case? If this is true then how can we put a number on what the decline would be w/out being an olympic boat or would there be any additional decine?
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
#14
Several have already pointed out that there are pros and cons. But I like to see the glass as half full and find TonyB's post and the one by fat-n-old particularly positive.

Therefore, as a GGM with no Olympic aspirations, I vote for Good. And yes, I find the sail issue troublesome, but it doesn't affect the club sailors with whom I go out to play.
 
#15
Absolutely spot on....We have just got back from the British optimist national champs at the new 2012 olympic venue in Weymouth/Portland. Nearly 500 boats!!!! Most of the British Olympic team were also there training for Skandia sail for gold next week and were idolised by the young Oppie sailors.
slightly off topic (as there are no Lasers involved) but I just found an image from last week's nationals to illustrate the above point.

Ben Ainslie leading the senior fleet down to the start line.

 
#17
slightly off topic (as there are no Lasers involved) but I just found an image from last week's nationals to illustrate the above point.

Ben Ainslie leading the senior fleet down to the start line.

I like how they idolise Ainslie but I much prefer the fact that ainslie has one of the oldest Finns around, and the little kids in the optimists all have almost brand new optimists which proves you don't have to own the newest kit to be the best in the world.

Also my mate at P&B just delivered a new race optimist which cost £2846!!!
 
#18
slightly off topic (as there are no Lasers involved) but I just found an image from last week's nationals to illustrate the above point.

Ben Ainslie leading the senior fleet down to the start line.

I like how they idolise Ainslie but I much prefer the fact that ainslie has one of the oldest Finns around, and the little kids in the optimists all have almost brand new optimists which proves you don't have to own the newest kit to be the best in the world.

Also my mate at P&B just delivered a new race optimist which cost £2846!!!
Now if he (No 3) covered me (in my Oppy) all the way down the 1st beat then I might re-visit my comments to the "Racing Etiquette" thread.

Ian
 
#19
-snip--- I like how they idolise Ainslie but I much prefer the fact that ainslie has one of the oldest Finns around,

Also my mate at P&B just delivered a new race optimist which cost £2846!!!
That Finn is not that old, and that carbon mast just might have cost as much as the Opti...
 
#20
That Finn is not that old, and that carbon mast just might have cost as much as the Opti...
Having helped Ben pull it up the slipway at Weymouth (swoon...my hero...) i can confirm that it is not an old boat and that tri-radial cut sail prob cost half as much again.

BTW My son's oppie is a Winner from P+B and that's about the going rate. Foam core construction, hull weight 35kg, dead stiff, trick hydrothingysomething bottom surface........makes a new Laser look a bit old fashioned
 
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