Based in the North Shore of Long Island in Oyster Bay, Oakcliff Sailing is on a mission to raise the caliber of US competitors and contributing to the sport of sailing. Their current undertaking is to test the variables of the new proposed event – Mixed Two Person Keelboat Offshore – for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck reached out to Oakcliff’s Executive Director Dawn Riley for an update:
Not everybody loves the idea of shifting to a keelboat event for the Olympics. Why has Oakcliff gotten behind it?
I completely understand the concern when a person’s personal ambitions are altered, but I also understand the complicated process of coming up with the Sailing event program for the Olympics.
When Bruno Trouble mentioned this concept in 2010, I probably laughed out loud. Bruno is a character and funny, but with the decision made we fully embraced it and are super excited to figure out how to make it not only possible but simple from a resource perspective.
How unique is the concept of the event within the current landscape of the sport?
Offshore shorthanded sailing is unique, especially in America, but double-handed events happen all over the world. I love the mixed part of it obviously!
Does the concept of this event, with men and women together overnight, potentially run afoul with some cultures across the world?
I am not an expert on the rules and religions of other countries, although I am an expert in the benefits of women competing in sport. A female who competes is more likely to be successful in business, less likely to have a heart attack or get breast cancer. I am also an expert in putting together and running mixed teams. Frankly, they are the best and reflective of life itself.
This event is also in line with the Olympic Charter which states:
“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
“The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
Also, anyone thinking that two athletes might be more interested in each other than in winning an Olympic Medal, I would argue is completely crazy.
What direction have you been given from World Sailing on how this event should be organized?
We are doing this independent of World Sailing at this point. The beauty of Oakcliff is that we can conceptualize, execute, and lead.