Kiteboards, womens' skiffs and a new catamaran are in, Windsurfing Stars and Elliotts are out for 2016
In one of the biggest reorganisation of Olympic classes in years, Kiteboards will replace windsurfers in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The men’s keelboat, the Star which has been in the Olympics in all bar one Games since 1932 is also to be dropped for the 2016 Games as is the women’s match racing keelboat the Elliott 6m which will have made just one Olympic appearance since its introduction after the Beijing Games in 2008.
The news will come as a surprise to many in sailing who, while acknowledging the rise in popularity of kiteboarding, will question whether the sport has sufficient competition background.
“The introduction of Kiteboarding, while an exciting prospect for a new discipline, the decision to replace windsurfing with Kiteboarding will of course be a huge blow to the windsurfing community, and we’re disappointed for all those who are working at the coalface of the RYA’s windsurfing programmes to deliver activity and British success on the world stage who will be affected most by this decision,” said John Derbyshire, RYA Racing Manager and Performance Director, who was present at the ISAF mid-year meetings where the votes took place.
“Kiteboarding made a solid case for its Olympic inclusion at the March trials,” he continued, “and although a surprise that ISAF has voted it into the Olympic programme at this stage, it appears that the Council of ISAF wished to seize the opportunity, rather than wait until 2020.”
The official word from ISAF reads as follows:
The ISAF Council voted that Kiteboarding will replace Windsurfing for the men’s and women’s board events and confirmed the equipment that will be used for the Women’s Skiff and Mixed Multihull Events.
The Mackay FX, referred to as the 49er FX, was selected yesterday as the two person women’s skiff and today the Nacra 17 joins the Olympic equipment family after being selected for the two person mixed multihull event.
The 49er FX received the majority of votes from the ISAF Council in the first round after the six evaluation trial entries were narrowed down to just three; the 29erXX, the RS900 and the 49er FX.
There was an equally animated debate on the final morning of the Council meeting at this year’s ISAF Mid-Year Meeting to decide the equipment to be selected for the mixed multihull event. After discussing the recommendations from the Evaluation Panel, the Equipment Committee and the Events Committee, Council voted between the Nacra 17 and the Viper with the Nacra 17 securing the majority.
The final discussion on the events and equipment for the 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition was about the men’s and women’s board events with Council voting in favour or kiteboarding.
In November 2011 an evaluation group was appointed to examine kiteboarding formats with the board events for Rio 2016 defined as ‘windsurfing and/or kiteboarding’. The Evaluation Group recommended that kiteboarding be included in the ISAF Event family including the ISAF Sailing World Cup and the ISAF Sailing World Championships but Council went one step further and selected kiteboarding for the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition as well.
The ISAF Windsurfing and Kiteboarding Committee will consider and make further recommendations to Council on the implementation of the inclusion of kiteboarding at their meeting in November 2012 at the ISAF Annual Conference.
ISAF President Göran Petersson said, “These announcements mark a new era for sailing and we welcome the new classes into the ISAF family. The equipment selections have fulfilled the criteria set out by the Evaluation Panel and we look forward to seeing the boats not only at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but the ISAF Sailing World Cup and ISAF Sailing World Championships.
“Kiteboarding has proven to us that it is ready to be included into the list of prestigious ISAF Events and it is a fantastic addition to the sailing programme for the 2016 Olympic Games.”
The events to be contested at the 2016 Olympic Games are confirmed as:
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Men’s One Person Dinghy (heavy) – Finn
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s skiff – 49er FX
Mixed Two Person Multihull – Nacra 17