A lot of fuss is currently being made in the sailing world about the question how to make sailing events more attractive to spectators and media.
One thing everybody is talking about at the moment is the so called "Stadium Racing Format" or similar constructions. Artemis Sailing Team Coach Andrew Palfrey described the recent races of Act 1 of the Extreme Sailing Series as "held right up by the shore and the course constructed more for the spectators' benefit than the sailors."
Well, we here at IKA are not quite sure if we should sacrifice fair racing for the sake of spectator entertainment, however bringing the action closer to the audience is certainly something one should do anyway - and which is done since the very beginning in kiteboard racing with great success.
With courses set within meters off the shoreline, grandstands build for the spectators and a wide variety of etertainment on the beach for racing addicts and visitors coming just to have a good time at the event site, kiteboard racing is surely leading the pack in terms of event setup and integrated entertainment ideas to attract not only the special interest audience, but also the general interest visitors.
(c) Claus Döpelheuer (c) Toby Bromwich
Kiteboarding as well as our friends from the windsurfing community always had a focus on giving the crowd a show WHILE conserving fair racing for the competitors. We rather have developed spectator-friendly formats, be it course races with short, multiple laps and finishing times of only 15 minutes to ensure action close to the beach, or the elimination knock out format "Kite Cross" where competitors are racing in heats and are cheered down the course by their fans along the shoreline.
Looks like the boardsports community can provide a lot of ideas to the sailing world that would please the requirements of the IOC for more media and spectator attractivity. Having the most spectator and media friendly formats it remains a mysterium why these exciting and different formats have been pitched against each other in the slate for the Olympic Sailing Competition. Lets hope that common sense prevails in the end.