Been in aus for a year now, getting frustrated over here on the sunshine coast, not because of wind theres lots of that, but because I like racing and the only serious racing is on the old Wally's or windsuring one design, a pre war plastic log with a max 6 metre sail. There is some formula action but the last wally meet there where 80 entrants and now its seems that Yachting Australia are going to re-introduce the wally as the junior/youth board(not because it weighs as much as an rsx, ho ho). What gives? Anyone know? I asked around and was told its cheap and readily available(unlike the rsx) good basis for an olympic campaign, ay?
Well, I don't know what happened to our posts.....maybe I was hallucinating, it was late at night.
Anyway, for the record.
1) Cheap is important when (unlike the UK) you have no existing youth "scene" with all that provides in extra incentive for parents and kids to get involved. The sport here is so small these days that we have nothing like the industry support T15 seems to get, so everything is funded by parents or associations themselves. We can find $750 for 3 4.5s for One Designs OR one 6.6 or 5.5 for a MJOD.
2) IMCO is a tiny class here, as is Raceboards. As an IMCOer, I don't like that, but we have to accept that it is the fact for the moment. My club has produced about half of the Youth and Olympic reps for years, but now that Raceboards, RSX etc are tiny classes it's hard to get kids enthused. If kids got into IMCO or MJOD or FE, they would have no-one to sail against regularly outside of 3 places in NSW.
Next Wally nats will have sailors from 3 states and one territory; possibly 5 states, and next season could have Wally activity in every state and territory bar NT. Raceboard will be sailed in 1 state.
3) In all or most of those places where Raceboards are still sailed, the conditions mean that the old "plastic log" is at least as much fun to sail as a Raceboard and more fun than a Hybrid. The top 2 guys at the last IMCO nats spend over half their time racing Windsurfer OD, because it's more fun to sail in shifty stuff and the racing is more fun. The One Design is also about as quick as a Prodigy or RSX around the track in these places, too.
4) Speed doesn't make more sailors. The history of windsurfing shows that. The Windsurfer One Design Junior is modelled on the Laser Radial and 4.7, which are the main reason the Laser clas (about as old as the Wally) is getting record fleets in places like the UK and Australia. Look at the UK Youth nats - the fastest classes (Hobie and RSX) are the least popular. The slowest classes (420 and Laser) are the most popular and are growing.
5) Sure the OD is not as fast in a good wind. Most of the time, most of the place, the typical wind is about 8 knots so it's light wind performance that really matters to kids, who normally don't get to pick and choose when they go sailing.
6) When just about all Australian kids learned on One Designs, Australia was top in the national rankings in the PWA and had good competition for the Olympic berth. Sailors like Jess Crisp, Lars Kleppich (4th and 5th in Sydney 2000, 6th and 7th in Athens, I think, and World Cup overall women's champ) learned on One Designs and sailed them for years so it's obvious that you can move from OD to shortboard and raceboard.
Unfortunately, since the juniors stopped racing One Designs, our performance at the Youth Worlds has nosedived to the point where it's the boards that are normally the only class that is not regularly on the podium. Obviously there are many causes and effects, but moving the Youths to Raceboards and now RSX has NOT helped.
7) This is not a conspiracy by One Design sailors. Not one of those behind the move is a really long-term rusted-on Wally sailor. We include FW sailors, former slalom and raceboard worlds team members, even people back from kites. Most of us know the board pretty well, its strengths and its weaknesses.
8) The shortboard training route was tried in NSW. IT didn't really work. It's a pity but it's also a fact.
9) If you can get say MJOD going in Queensland that will be great. We have the only MJOD sail around (as far as we know) and we'll probably lend it and an IMCO to the best local candidate to give some competition to anyone you can get to the nationals etc.