On Monday, 14 May the World Sailing Council met in London, Great Britain, during the international governing body’s Mid-Year meeting to discuss and vote on the events that will make up the Sailing Competition of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Before the meeting it was confirmed that five of the current events would be retained, those being:
• Men’s One Person Dinghy
• Women’s One Person Dinghy
• Women’s Skiff – 49erFX
• Men’s Skiff – 49er
• Mixed Two Person Multihull – Nacra 17
Following debate the five events added to the program would be:
• Men’s Windsurfer
• Women’s Windsurfer
• Mixed One-Person Dinghy (New Event)
• Mixed Two Person Dinghy (New Event)
• Mixed Kite (New Event)
The RYA, whilst disappointed that the World Sailing Council did not feel able to support the recommendation of the Events Committee and its working party, are pleased to see sailing at the forefront of Olympic sports to be gender equal at both an athlete and event level.
There are however many unanswered questions that remain. The equipment that will be used for the three new events is yet to be decided and there is also some doubt over events that have equipment under antitrust review – namely the Laser, Laser Radial and RS:X.
The format of the new ‘Mixed One Person Dinghy’ event is unknown and the RYA anticipates considerable change to the formats of some other events – most notably both Men’s and Women’s windsurfing.
What is clear is that kitesurfing will now be part of the Olympic sailing program and we are looking forward to working with the British Kitesports Association to identify and support the best British kitesurfing talent for the future.
Ian Walker, RYA Director of Racing, comments: “There is a lot for us as a National Governing Body to consider, but as a former 470 sailor who has raced three Volvo Ocean Races but also enjoys recreational kitesurfing you can see that I, like the Events Committee and Council, was very conflicted. There was never going to be a decision that kept everybody happy.
“I am confident that whatever formats and equipment are finalised this November at the World Sailing Annual Conference, it will be an outstanding regatta at Paris 2024 and our coaching team and sailors will find ways to adapt and excel.”
Andy Gratwick, British Kitesports Managing Director, adds: “We are delighted to see World Sailing’s significant steps towards inclusion of kiteboarding in the 2024 Olympic Games and potential exposure in Tokyo 2020 as a demonstration event.
“This is a huge and positive step for kiteboarding worldwide. We are excited to be involved in this new era of the sport and look forward to working together with the RYA on a performance pathway to ensure future British success in Olympic kiteboarding.”
The message from World Sailing is very clear – sailing must be gender equal at all levels, appeal to the next generation of sailors, be event based and it must also appeal to the wider public and media.
There has been a clear mandate for change from the International Federation, but there still remains a great deal of work to be done on the racing formats for the new events and the presentation of sailing as a whole to meet the expectations of the IOC and increase the public appeal of the sport.
The RYA and its staff will continue to support World Sailing with this process and are confident that sailing will emerge stronger than ever for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
This story is from the RYA.