In the articles and news stories about the Olympics, I read over and over again that we are viewing the first Olympic Medal races. True enough, but a little derogative for all those people who have developed the system in the last six years.
A lot of time, experiencing and rules tweaking has gone into getting to a concept that works. I remember a SPA regatta four or five years ago where the medal race was still an experiment. A lot got done since then. By ISAF, by Rules Specialists, by the Sailors, by Race Management and by Organizing Authorities. All to keep the sport of sailing into the Olympics.
It is very easy to have critique about what is flawed about this concept and perhaps uninteresting to have an eye for all the positive effect that it has.
With all it's drama, in heartbreaking moments for losers and jubilations for the winners, it brings out the best in sailing.
It gives the ten best sailors of the opening-series a direct change to sail in front of the camera's, sail in front of their countrymen, sail for their families and friends and show them what they have worked so hard for, in all those years.
With direct judging everybody knows who is the winner, as soon as the last boat is in. I refuse to believe that an average viewer is unable to understand a simple points system and must be satisfied with first over the line. Add a little more effort in tracking and superimposing positions on TV and everybody will be able to empathize with the sailors, even more.
Of course their are exceptions, sailing is a complicated sport with many variables. But that adds to the drama. Nobody had thought beforehand about this particular sequence of events in the 49er Medal Race, with DEN sailing in the CRO boat. It got handled. The Jury reached a decision after looking at all the facts and hearing evidence from all the parties. Twice.
The shine on this particular Golden Olympic medal will last a lifetime.