The ISAF Sailing World Championship was first held in 2003, bringing all the Olympic classes together at one venue to host their World Championship events. Used as the principal qualification event for countries to secure their position in each event for the Olympic Games, the ISAF Worlds are scheduled once every Olympic cycle.
With the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championship underway (Sept 12-21), the logistics of hosting 10 World Championships at the same time is not without compromises. Among those not happy with the compromises is Nathan Outteridge (AUS), a four-time winner of the 49er World title and gold medalist at the 2012 Olympics.
The qualifying round of the 49er event has the 90+ boat fleet divided into two groups, and it is the group size which is seen to be the problem. After six qualifying races, the top 25 boats advance to Gold Fleet.
“Not a single person in the whole fleet is happy with it to be honest,” Outteridge reported to sail-world.com. “The 49ers have always raced with 25 boats for the last 16 years and ISAF pushes into these formats of two days of racing five races in 45 boats to qualify. That is not a good solution for the class.
“Racing in fleet of 45 boats for one it is dangerous if we get any breeze and two the racing is completely different to what it would be with 25 boats. The class has a limit on the number of boats in the fleet for a reason and when ISAF changed the rules to suit the ISAF Worlds, ten classes all at one venue, because they can’t have enough race courses. That means the racing won’t be as good as it would be if we had our own World Championships run by our own class.
“Of course we have in the past raced in big fleets, more at Holland regatta a few times and Weymouth a few times. I think the important thing is when you race in a bigger fleet that they make the course suitable.
“If we are trying to get 25 minute races in with 45 boats the fleet just gets so compressed and it is intense racing whereas if it is 40 boats you stretch the length of the race out to forty minutes and you have the longer beat and the first fleet will spread out accordingly.
“The qualifier is just about making the cut. Our goal is to make sure we are in the gold fleet and work forward from there because you can’t win the regatta in the first two days but you can lose it.”