Marcus Spillane on the new Olympic medal racing format
Aside from his day job as a private equity entrepreneur in New York, Irishman Marcus Spillane occupies a unique position in sailing’s Olympic classes structure.
42-year-old Spillane and his Canadian business partner, Ben Remocker, control the three fastest Olympic classes – the 49er, 49erfx and the Nacra 17 – and the duo are leading from the front in the campaign to promote sailing to a larger global audience of sports fans.
We caught up with Spillane at the World Sailing Conference in Barcelona shortly where he and Remocker had just had their proposal for a new format for the medal race day at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games approved by the World Sailing Executive.
Under the new format, the current single 20 to 30-minute medal race will be replaced by multiple shorter races around a bounded racecourse. The 49er and 49erfx fleets will sail their familiar windward/leeward course while the newly-foiling Nacra 17 catamarans will race around an America’s Cup-style course (reaching start, windward/leeward, reach to the finish).
Although delighted to have had the green light for the proposal Spillane conceded there was plenty of work that needed to be done to fine tune the format before the next Olympic Games.
“We still have a fair bit of testing to do, but at least we can now progress and use events over the next 12 months to really finesse our basic ideas,” he said.
Spillane said the motivation to move from a single, double-points medal race to a multiple race format on the final day derived largely from the feedback given by sailors active in the three classes.
“What the sailors were telling us was that the last day should be equal points to every other day during the regatta. We don't believe that it should be a winner-take-all final race. We also don't believe that it should always necessarily be double points - even though we will explore that angle a bit more.”
Introducing multiple medal races, Spillane believes, still allows the chance of the medal being decided on the last day, but reduces the likelihood of a solitary random result causing an unfair upset.
“The more races you have, the fairer the competition is,” he said. The remarkable thing is that, even in the flukiest weather conditions, most of the time the good sailors come out on top. The more races you have, the more that is likely to be the case.
Spillane’s view is that reducing the length of the medal races means shorter, snappier and more intense action.
“What that also does is allow breaks in between races, which gives us a huge opportunity... READ THE FULL ARTICLE