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2016 Olympics- Both Keelboats chopped by ISAF Events Committee

by Richard Gladwell on 5 May 2011
34th America’’s Cup Regatta Director, Iain Murray (AUS) crosses the finish line in the 2008 Olympics in the Star class - now provisionally dropped after the 2012 Olympics © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

Sail-World understands that the meeting of the International Sailing Federation's Events Committee has just voted on its schedule of ten Events for the 2016 Olympic Sailing Regatta.

The report from the Committee will now go to the ISAF Council to be 'received' which then triggers a discussion and debate as to whether the Council endorse the Recommendation or amend it.

The list of 10 events is believed to be:

Mens and Womens Windsurfer (RS:X) and Kiteboard

Mens Singlehander (Laser)
Womens Singlehander (Laser Radial)

Mens HP Skiff (49er)
Womens HP Skiff (Evaluation Trial)

Mixed Multihull (Evaluation Trial) (One female, one male crew)

Mens Heavyweight Singlehander (Finn)

Mens Doublehander (Spinnaker) 470
Womens Doublehander (Spinnaker) 470

The outcome of the vote is that there will be no Keelboat event in the 2016 Olympics, if the recommendation is endorsed by the ISAF Council meeting tomorrow, Friday and Saturday. The mistake made by the November 2007 meeting of the ISAF has been repeated where one of the five disciplines of the sport, in this case the largest, the Keelboat, is not represented at the Olympic regatta.

The newly selected Womens Keelboat will not have even survived its first Olympic competition before being summarily dismissed, by the same Committee that recommended its inclusion in November 2007.

Losing the Mens Two Handed Keelboat, the century old Star class, is less surprising, however its demise allowed the Finn to retain its place as a Singlehanded Mens boat suitable for men too heavy to sail the Laser, or any of the other classes which are generally reckoned to be unsuitable for more than 80-85kgs. (The yet to be selected class for the Mixed Multihull being a possible exception.)


Back in is the Multihull, ditched by the ISAF Council in November 2007 - a decision decried by many in the sailing world, which turned the other way and moved into a multihull America's Cup plus many other multihull circuit events and trans-oceanic events. Leaving the world body looking rather silly.

The 2016 Olympic Multihull is being classed as a Mixed Event, which means that the boat will have to be sailed by a male and female crew.

The Submissions which reflect the position passed by the Events Committee are http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/M07112016OlympicSailingCompetitionEventsandEquipment-%5B10357%5D.pdf!Submission_7, http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/M10112016OlympicSailingCompetitionEventsandEquipment-%5B10409%5D.pdf!!Submission_10, http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/M11112016OlympicSailingCompetitionEventsandEquipment-%5B10363%5D.pdf!Submission_11, http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/M32112016OlympicSailingCompetitionEventsandEquipment-%5B10369%5D.pdf!Submission_32, and http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/M33112016OlympicSailingCompetitionEventsandEquipment-%5B10367%5D.pdf!Submission_33.

Yachting Australia and the Royal Yachting Association with the Chairman of the Events Committee Chris Atkins (GBR) and now defunct Olympic Commission Chairman Phil Jones (AUS) were believed to be the drivers behind the successful recommendation, which was tipped in Sail-World before the Committee had met. Another Events Committee member, Carolijn Brower campaigned and sailed on the 2008 Olympics as part of a Mixed crew in the Multihull (Tornado class) event. The Executive Director of the Finn class is also a member of the committee.

However to be fair, while all may participate in the discussion, some who have an extreme conflict of interest (such as paid class officials), excuse themselves from issues involving their conflict burden.

The other submissions were clearly geared at splitting up the original proposal, approved by the Events Committee for a second Mixed event, the Mixed Two Hander (470). That move was unpopular and the 470 class and many small sailing nations supported the separate Mens and Women Two Handed class again in the 470.

The move to remove the Keelboat from the Olympics could have wider ramifications for the International Sailing Federation, and its member national authorities, which have always struggled to retain a keelboat constituency. Offshore racers ratings are handled by the Offshore Racing Council, a separate body. The ISAF does have some responsibility for Offshore racing regulations and safety. The World Match Racing Tour is controlled by a separate organisation from the ISAF.


With the America's Cup now staged in Multihulls, the Keelboat world, the largest disciple within sailing may begin to wonder if the ISAF is in fact the best body to promote and control their arm of the sport.

Also gone from the Olympics is the Womens Matchracing as an Event - again a decision which has not yet been tested in its first Olympic Regatta. The matchracing event was included in a November 2007 decision in an attempt to introduce a more television friendly event to the Olympics.

The issue of how the linked disciplines of Windsurfing and Kiteboarding are to be split remains unresolved. Under the Events Committee recommendation they are conjoint in the same Event - a competition that doesn't exist in the real sailing world.

Another question mark remains over the selection of the Womens HP Skiff - and Event for which the 29erXX has been touted, but is the subject of an Evaluation Trial started in April 2007, and in which the boats - two Cherub-Daemons, an RS800, the International 14, the 29er and 29erXX and the GT60 - were test sailed in Hyeres, France. A second trial, at a heavier air venue, was believed to be requested after the Hyeres event was plagued by light winds.

After a lapse of four years and an incomplete Evaluation Trial with no recommendation, the ISAF Events Committee has created an Olympic Event for the Womens HP Skiff - which essentially means twin trapeze, asymmetric spinnaker type dinghy probably around 15-16ft in length, class to be determined.

The ISAF Meeting continues in St Petersburg with the ISAF Council Meeting on the sixth and seventh of May.

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