World Sailing is currently evaluating what boats should be used in the Paris Olympics in 2024 for the Men’s and Women’s One Person Dinghy events. The current boats for these events are the Laser and Laser Radial. These two boats are still in the running for Paris but, as possible replacements, World Sailing is also considering the Melges 14, the Devoti D-Zero and… the RS Aero.
Hmmm. My beloved RS Aero might be in the Olympics? I am really not sure how to feel about this. I can see pros and cons…
It would certainly be a major achievement for the RS Aero to be designated as an Olympic Class. I would be even more proud than I am already of being an Aero sailor if it were in the Olympics. And for all those folk who predicted that the Aero would be the “Laser killer” I guess it would be some validation for them. I can just see the headlines… Upstart RS Aero Topples Venerable Laser from its Olympic Perch… and blah blah blah.
With Olympic status would come major growth in the class. All those young folk with dreams of one day qualifying for the Olympics would be rushing out to buy Aeros. The RS Aero would become more well known to everyone in the sailing world and many sailors would want to be part of the scene. The supply of second-hand boats would increase making the Aero accessible to many who would never buy a new boat. More Aeros in our local fleets, more regattas, larger regattas… it all sounds good.
On the other hand, Olympic status might bring some changes to the class that are not so positive…
Sailors running serious Olympic campaigns these days are, in all but name, professional sailors. Whether their funding comes from sponsorship or the government, they have to be focused full-time on sailing. Some worry that the injection of all these professional sailors into our class would change the culture of our class. The average weekend warrior would no longer have any chance of winning a national, continental or world championship as they do now (not that that’s anything I have to worry about personally!) More significantly, some fear that the current camaraderie among all the sailors in the Aero class might disappear if there were a significant number of elite sailors also in the mix.
One side effect of increasing professionalism in the Aero class would be that all those full-time sailors – and even aspiring youth sailors – will be showing up at Aero regattas with their coaches, and the coaches will be swarming all over the course in their mommy boats, getting in the way of all the normal sailors like me and giving their clients an unfair advantage in the races. If there is one thing that really made me angry in the Laser class it was all those damned mommy boats. I even stopped going to some regattas because of all the mommy boats. I might have mentioned it once or twice on my old blog…
Where am I ? Where was I? Oh yes. Am I for or against the RS Aero being in the Olympics?
Well, I don’t suppose I am going to be asked to vote on the matter, one way or the other, so I guess I will carry on having fun in my RS Aero for as long as I can… and try not get too worked up about the prospect of RS Aero regattas being invaded by swarms of mommy boats… at least for now.
What do you think? Would you want the class you sail to be in the Olympics?