Incomplete Evaluation

If the trials that took place in Santander were in fact designed to select equipment for the 2016 Olympic competition, an argument can be made that the RS:X equipment should have been part of those trials. After all, if the objective is to decide between two options, then it would seem logical that both options be represented. That argument can be countered by suggesting that the RS:X, as an existing Olympic class, is a known entity, and that testing it in Santander was not going to provide more insights regarding its on-the-water performance.

Regardless of whether or not we agree with that position, we argue that the Evaluation Report itself should have included the RS:X. Two separate reports were produced after the trials: a Technical Report, and an Evaluation Report. Since Kiteboarding was the only equipment present at the trials, it makes sense that the Technical Report would focus solely on Kiteboarding. But the Evaluation Report, on the other hand, should have synthesized those findings with what was known of the RS:X, and offered a comparative analysis between the two options.

The notion that a proper equipment evaluation should have included the RS:X is further validated by the following statement, from the Executive Committee, based on recommendation from the Olympic Commission:

 Nov. 2010:

Because it is innovative, the Commission believes it is essential that board-sailing at the Olympics is kept up-to-date, and ISAF should evaluate, through demonstration events or otherwise:a) whether windsurfing equipment still provides the best Olympic Event, or whether kiteboarding would be the better equipment for the Olympics by 2016;b) the format of competition that will best display the sport of board-sailing.
Submission 097-10 from the Executive Committee http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/09710EventandEquipment2016Olympics-%5B9390%5D.pdf (p.4)

The necessity of a side-by-side comparison between the RS:X and Kiteboarding is a logical argument, obviously, but it is also supported by the following precedents:

  • The 2012 Women’s Skiff and the Multihull evaluations that were run concurrently in Santander included all the equipment options under consideration and painstakingly compared the performance of each option against that of the others. The outcome was an objective assessment of the various equipment options. The difference in professionalism between those evaluations and the Kiteboarding reports is striking.
  • The 2004 Trials that led to the selection of the RS:X as Olympic windsurfing equipment included sailors who were active at the time on the existing Olympic board, the Mistral One Design (IMCO), and were therefore intimately familiar with its performance characteristics. They were able to precisely rank the merits of each contender against those of the IMCO equipment. The outcome was an objective assessment of the various equipment options. By contrast, the kiteboard racers present at the trials inSantanderhad no intimate familiarity with the RS:X equipment, with the exception of Mr. Gebhardt, who has distanced himself from Olympic windsurfing and hasn’t competed internationally on the RS:X in the past five years (2004 – ISAF Windsurfer Evaluation Trials – Report for Council http://www2.sailing.org/meetings/2004november/papers/CO_2cii.pdf)

Further evidence that the Equipment Evaluation should have included Windsurfing is outlined here.

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