No racing

Today it was blowing dogs off chains at ISAF's World Sailing Games

Thursday July 4th 2002, Author: Sasha Oswald, Location: Mediterranean
At 1400 today the President of the ISAF World Sailing Games Race Committee announced that today's races would be postponed to Friday. The RC hoped to get a few races underway, even though the northwesterly Mistral was blowing at more than 25 knots, reaching peaks of around 33-37 knots with 2 metre high waves.

But in the end security prevailed and the Race Committee postponed all today's races until tomorrow. Aside from safety there was another concern - of preserving the equipment.

"With such weather conditions (over 25 knots wind) and 2 metre high waves, not only must the boats be preserved (avoid breakage), but we also have to be sure the marks will remain in the same place," explained Race Committee Manager Gilles Sabin (in charge of Course Area E for keelboats and male (J/80) and female (J/22). "Usually skippers are owners of their boats and assume responsibility for the material. For the World Sailing Games however the boats are supplied to the competitors and the keelboats re-allocated after each day's racing. It is therefore important that equipment damage is kept to a minimum."

To anticipate these types of problems, a change to the Sailing Instructions has been introduced, which allows the Race Committee to prohibit the use of spinnakers over a certain wind speed. "As Chairman of the Race Committee for the keel boats I will not allow the use of this sail over 18knots of wind. If use of spinnakers is prohibited, at the same time the 'Y' signal will be indicated meaning that every sailor must wear their lifejacket."

While there was too much breeze for the sailors, such conditions were ideal for the 'kite surfers', who have been out in force on Marseilles Bay.

Six professional 'kiters' are promoting their discipline of sailing with various shows taking place each day for the duration of the Games. On this particularly windy day, it was an incredible sight to see them jumping and doing turns, and have certainly impressed the sailors who were forced to remain ashore.

The real craze for this hybrid sport (between surfing and kite) is similar to the first years of windsurfing, back in the early 1970s.

In order to introduce this discipline to the sailors here from around the world, but also to the larger group of spectators, ISAF together with the Federation Francaise de Voile (FFV) have chosen to organise regular displays. Pascal Maka, three times world speed record champion on the funboard, is the man to watch. As representative of the Federation Francaise de Voile, Pascal Maka's aim is to develop this new 'extreme' sport, and says, "our aim is to equip as many sailing clubs as possible." The whole kite kit, including four different sized kites and a board costs approximately 1500 euros.

However, the professionals present here in Marseille insist on safety as an underlying necessity, and any potential 'kiters' should learn at a professional sailing school with adequate equipment. Another 'kiter' suggested that a licence should be introduce for kiters, to ensure people know how to use it the equipment before venturing out on the water. Possible drowning, as well as serious difficulties to return to the beach are some of the risks which may be encountered by most beginners if they are not properly trained before going out by themselves.

Hopefully sailing will resume tomorrow. The forecast for tomorrow is for less breeze and the race committee and competitors will be hoping that there is not too little. At present the results stand as day one.

Program for Friday July 5th.
Godmother of the day : Claire Marty, sailor and representative of Thalasanté.
Initially scheduled as a reserve day, this Friday will be used as a competition day.
First starts at 11:00am.
6:00pm: Volunteer party.

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