In November 2008 when ISAF Executive Council selected the Elliott 6m as the supplied keelboat for the Women’s keelboat match racing event at the 2012 Olympic Games they catapulted women’s sailing into the 21st century. The Elliott 6m is modern, faster than any previous women’s Olympic keel yacht and exciting to sail with at the 204 kg crew weight. The new boat has been welcomed by women sailors throughout the world. Coming from a variety of different sailing disciplines the athletes learned quickly that they needed to embrace the Olympic philosophy of human performance to sail Faster, Higher and Stronger in the event. And they have.
The Elliott 6m has been used as supplied equipment for the ISAF Sailing World Cup since 2009. Competition quickly became intense as teams developed their skill and athleticism. Every leg of the Sailing World Cup events was won by a different team with Lucy MacGregor (GBR) eventually being crowned the winner. The event has flourished inside the Olympic programme and provides an effective platform for elite sailors and promotion of the sport between Olympics. It has provided a further pathway to retain champions and previous medal winners in an Olympic sailing event keeping these inspirational athletes in the sport. Sailors fight hard to win a place in the Gold Fleet at every SWC event. Teams from emerging sailing nations, such as China & Slovenia have entered the SWC rankings near the bottom and in 2011 are making it into the Silver fleet at these events. In keeping with the Olympic philosophy the competitors must be athletes at the peak of their fitness. The Elliott 6m is demanding and exciting to sail and can be sailed by sailors of all heights, sizes, physiques and ages with a diverse range of sailing skills.
Since January 2009, 98 boats have been delivered to 22 nations. With recent orders of additional boats to the Royal Yachting Association and the Russian Yachting Federation. The second shipment to South America has recently been delivered to Peru. The supplied Olympic fleet is due to be shipped to Weymouth later this month, for the Olympic Test event in August and then on to the Perth Qualifying Event before being shipped back to Weymouth for the 2012 Olympic Games.
The new women’s keelboat has delivered a dynamic, new event to the Olympic Sailing Programme and showcases in the Games, an exciting format that is used in the modern day and in the ISAF SWC between Olympics. The event is easy to deliver to a worldwide audience as they are familiar with the one on one “knockout” concept. The event has proved to be easy to exploit for mass media appeal. The women’s keelboat event has the most spectator interest and attraction for electronic and print media than any other sailing discipline.
In selecting the Elliott 6m, ISAF has delivered a new boat that will, without a doubt, strengthen the position of Sailing in the Olympics. In keeping with Regulation 3.27 the Elliott 6m should be retained for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil because:
- Keelboats represent the most popular form of regatta and recreational sailing.
- The event ensures diversity as it attracts a wide variety of sailors, ex medalists and champions and a wide range of athletic builds.
- ISAF Council must show support of the modern pathway they selected and protect the investment made by MNAs, by sailors and emerging sailors for the success of the Olympic Sailing.
- A number of emerging sailing nations have invested in this newly introduced equipment. Providing continuity is critical for the success of the Olympic Sailing community.
- Provides an effective platform for promotion of the sport and its elite sailors between Olympics.
- Dynamic fast boats are attractive to youth and the Elliott 6m provides a clear pathway for youth sailors and the development of the sport.
- The Elliott 6m will enhance the Olympic games. The women’s keelboat showcases well the physical fitness, athletic ability and skill required to compete at the pinnacle level.
- The supplied equipment is one design so no single athlete has an equipment advantage.
- The boat is not as condition dependent as other Olympic Classes. The event can be held in light air to widest wind range. This is crucial to the success of an Olympic Event.
- It has the potential to bring greater TV revenue to the Olympic Games. Bringing greater revenue is essential to keeping sailing in the Olympic Games.
- The women’s keelboat event is still less expensive to campaign for the Olympics than almost every other sailing discipline.
- The match racing format delivers a unique event to the Olympic audience. One that is easily exploited by television, electronic and print media. It has wide spectator appeal.
Some interesting statistics –
In a comparison between women's Olympic sailing disciplines the number of teams in each discipline on the ranking list are currently:
Laser Radial (489), WMR (321), RSX (163), 470 women (137),
Based on sailor numbers per event the approximate number of sailors involved is:
Women’s Keelboat Match Racing - 963
Women’s Laser radial - 489
Women’s RSX - 274
Women’s 470 - 163
The number of MNAs involved:
Women’s Laser radial- 55
Women’s Keelboat Match Racing- 38
Women’s RSX - 37
Women’s 470- 31