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09/19/2008 - created by Andrew Buchanan

Olympic Musings

Svein Rasmussen, owner of Starboard and one of the most influential figures in the windsurfing industry, talks out about his views on the future of Olympic windsurfing.

Svein: “I participated in LA 1984, the first Olympic games of windsurfing. My sailing then extended 10 years on the PWA tour, competing on race boards, slalom boards and in the wave discipline as well. I later started Starboard, which has been the windsurfing board market leader for 6 years in a row.

The reason for my letter is that I would like to share the following with you:

When the Formula windsurfing class asked us to work with them on a Formula One design concept for the Olympics, I had to think about it long and hard as I was believing that we needed a light wind alternative, a set of equipment that could also work in 2- 5 knots, thus energize all the light wind areas in the world. Then my mind turned to the IMCO class.

This class had equipment that worked great in light winds.  The IMCO class was very much marketed and heavily supported by the national federations for 12 years, yet the day it no longer had a Olympic medal, it was proved that the class was “artificial”, as no one continued to participate in it. That proved to me that at this stage in time, the majority of windsurfers that wish to compete on an Olympic style course, are mainly interested in competing in planing conditions. I like to compete in light winds as well, but I am in a small minority today and must accept that.

The RSX was “artificially” born, the equipment style selected was never raced in large fleets, medals were made available, the national support was made available and a limited amount of sailors will participate until the class will be taken off the Olympic program and then most likely disappear just like IMCO did.

This “artificial” participation is what we want to avoid, to stop the decline of participation in Olympic windsurfing classes. We want to propose racing on a style of equipment that has drawn more competitors than RSX or IMCO over the last 8 years, and still does.

The FW class has more international competitors despite the fact that it has no Olympic medal and no national association support, thus it has become popular because the kit is what most racers would like to compete on today. Further, I would have liked to see a class where different manufacturers could have equipment available, but frozen for 4 years at the time.

We however understood that this is still to early for ISAF to accept, so we happily gave our support to the FOD program, and our goal is very simply:

Create an Olympic class that draws participants not only because it’s Olympic, but because it’s a class sailed on equipment that sailors actually prefer to race on.”

PWA / Andrew Buchanan

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