Breaking The Law In Waves

Following on from last years AGM at Sylt, wave events will now have just a 48-man fleet in the men’s division.

The aim behind the shift is to save considerable time at contests, and so give a better chance of securing results, especially if suitable conditions only occur briefly during the designated holding periods.

Also, under the new format, the top 16 seeds will be seeded through to the second round, creating a first round of qualifying heats intended to give up and coming sailors more opportunity to pass through heats and gain competition experience.

Here’s what some of the top dogs had to say about it.

What do you think about cutting the wave fleet down to 48-men?

Matt Pritchard (Tabou / Gaastra): ‘I think it is good as long as we have some feeder system for the new guys’

Klaas Voget (Fanatic / NeilPryde): ‘I think it’s good, to be able to move on faster in the competition and to get a higher level from the first round onwards’

Victor Fernandez (Fanatic / Simmer): ‘I think it has advantages. The seeding wasn’t always full in every competition when it was 64-men. It will be quicker to finish contest in some places where we are unlucky with the conditions, and make sure that we can make the most of good conditions'

John Skye (F2 / Naish): ‘I think it is a really good thing. It does 2 things. Firstly it reduces the time to finish an event, making it easier to get results and more importantly making it possible to wait longer for the best possible conditions. Secondly it basically makes the first round a qualifying round. Previously if you were ranked 64th in the seeding, your first heat of the contest would be against the number 1 seed... Normally pretty tricky. With the new fleet structure the lowest rank sailor would go against the number 17 seed which is a much nicer and fairer prospect’

Ross Williams (Tabou / Gaastra): ‘ It’s just better allround really as we can get more done quicker. If you look at some events like Guincho last year, we were lucky to complete the event on the last day as that was the only day that delivered contestable conditions. If it had been a 64-man fleet we wouldn't have neccessarily reached a winners final’

Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails): ‘For me I don’t think it matters too much. I think it will be better for the competitions to have better sailors in it and to have a better chance of finishing the competition with more quality of heats’

How will it affect your tactics?

Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails): ‘It won’t affect them at all!’

John Skye (F2 / Naish): ‘I’m not sure it will change too much. In the end the best tactic in wave heats is to try to win, the new format doesn’t change that too much. I guess it makes it more important to be inside the top 16’

Victor Fernandez (Fanatic / Simmer):  ‘I will have the same tactics. There’s still the same opportunity for all of the top 48’

Matt Pritchard (Tabou / Gaastra): ‘Not at all’

Klaas Voget (Fanatic / NeilPryde): I’ll still try my best from the first heat on…’

Why do you think it was necessary to have such a change?

John Skye (F2 / Naish): ‘Like I said, it gives more time to finish events, more time to wait for the best conditions, and gives lower ranked sailors a better chance to gain experience. I think it is more healthy to have a tour that people must fight to get into, as it keeps the fleet more competitive’

Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails): ‘I guess it is good to keep the lower ranked sailors more hungry to stay on tour. If they don’t get some good finishes then they would lose there spot on tour’

Matt Pritchard (Tabou / Gaastra): ‘It will cut down on the time to get a result when we don’t get any wind till the last day of the contest. We need to have results now days and this will make contests go faster’

Will it make the lower seeded riders more dangerous in time?

John Skye (F2 / Naish): ‘It will give the lower level sailor more experience, which is a great thing. It is common for a good sailor to spend a long time gaining experience, coming up against top seeds over and over again and never really realising their full potential. Now it will give them a little more breathing space, a chance to find their feet first. It is also hoped that at certain events the PWA can run qualifier rounds before the main event, giving wannabee's an extra chance to get into the event. Now potentially the guy that was 64th (and would have gone against the number 1 seed) will sail a few heats in a qualifier round, then if he makes it will go into the main event and go against a mid ranked sailor. In theory he would sail nearly as many heats as the event winner, giving him loads of extra competition experience’

Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / MauiSails): ‘I think it will create a cooler, more elitist tour’

Matt Pritchard (Tabou / Gaastra): ‘Just because you have a low seed doesn’t make you any less dangerous. Everybody is dangerous out there- it doesn’t really matter’

Klaas Voget (Fanatic / NeilPryde): ‘I think in a 48-men fleet everybody is dangerous’

© PWA / Brian McDowell