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ISAF Conference - Kiteboarding out, Windsurfing back in

by Sail-World on 11 Nov 2012
Tuuli Petaja (FIN) wins the Silver Medal in the Women’s Windsurfer (RSX) event in the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition. onEdition © http://www.onEdition.com
After a long six month battle, Windsurfing has made it back as an Olympic Event for the 2016 Olympics.

The ISAF Annual General Meeting, in a simple majority vote, decided to delete Kiteboarding and re-instate Windsurfing, which has been in the Olympics since 1984 as a Mens Event, and since 1992 for Women.

The ISAF AGM also voted to re-instate the RS:X as the class to be used in the 2016 Olympics.

In May the ISAF Mid Year Meeting of the ISAF Council, in Stresa Italy, took many by surprise when it installed Kiteboarding as an Olympic Event, doing so against the recommendation (17 votes to 2) of the Events Committee.

The same recommendation was again put forward to the ISAF Council Meeting at its Annual Conference, in Dun Laoghire, Ireland, but that would have required a 75% majority to Re-open the Decision of the Council from the May Meeting in respect of the events for the 2016 Olympics.

The move to re-open failed by just two votes to reach the required threshold, but got support from 26 of the 38 voting delegates, at the Council Meeting on Thursday.

From there it was likely that if the Council vote was repeated at the Annual General Meeting (held only once every four years), it was obvious that the Windsurfers had done their homework and would carry the day - provided politics did not come into play and delegates at the AGM (where each country physically present is allowed a single vote, instead of just the the regions in the Council Meeting) had stayed true to the voting direction from the Council meeting - which was that although 75% were not in favour of re-visiting, there clear majority were for a re-instatement of Windsurfing.

Given that scenario, the fate of Kiteboarding in a simple vote was inevitable, and the rogue decision of the ISAF Council at its Mid-Year Meeting was finally overturned by a vote of 51 to 40 in favour of the Windsurfer. There were 104 countries represented at the AGM (with a big fly-in representation for nearby Europe) with a large number of abstentions (believed to be 13) on the 2016 Olympics vote.

The technical process in the voting was that ISAF Regulation 23.1.4 (which covers the Olympic classes for the next Olympics) was amended and approved to include windsurfing

The equipment approved for the 2016 Olympics Sailing Competition is as follows:

Men's Board -RS:X
Women's Board - RS:X
Men's One Person Dinghy - Laser
Women's One Person Dinghy - Laser Radial
Men's second One Person Dinghy - Finn
Men's Skiff - 49er
Women's Skiff – 49erFX
Men's Two Person Dinghy - 470
Women's Two Person Dinghy - 470
Mixed Two Person Multihull – Nacra 17

Further detail can be read on ISAF Conference blog.

As earlier reported, the Mens and Womens One Person Dinghy and the Mens and Womens Skiff have also been confirmed as Events for the 2020 Olympics, along with the respective classes, the Laser, Laser Radial, 49er and 49erFX.

Election of Officers

The election for the President and seven Vice Presidents of ISAF resulted in Carlos Croce (ITA) being elected in the second round after Australia's David Kellett was dropped out, and the final vote was between Croce and Eric Tulla (PUR). It was expected that the European countries would not let the Presidency leave Europe and that proved to be the case. Although before the meeting it was believed to be a close race, between all three. However the high number of attendees (104 countries) was indicative of a big attendance from nearby Europe, compounded by the fact that each country regardless of its size and sailor base, has just one vote. That being the case it was perhaps inevitable that a European candidate would win, which proved to be the case.

Kellett and Croce were believed to have had a deal where if one was eliminated, they would switch their support for the other. With Kellett being dropped in the first round, that switch in support would have assisted Croce, the son of former ISAF President Beppe Croce.

Despite his lineage, Croce comes to the ISAF family with little involvement in the organisation however he is a double Olympian for Italy and with America's Cup and other international keelboat experience as a marketeer and team principal. Many would see that lack of ISAF exposure as being a positive as much as a negative, coming in with a clean pair of hands, given the organisation's sins of the past eight years (now largely resolved), and Croce takes over an organisation that has made some big gains, in the last four years in particular.

The Presidential vote shaped the Vice Presidential slate, where generally one person per region is voted along with two Women Vice Presidents.

The Annual General Meeting was forced to vote separately for the two Women Vice Presidents after five males won the popular vote, with George Andreadis (GRE), Chris Atkins (GBR), Gary Jobson (USA), Quanhai Li (CHN) and Scott Perry (URU) being successful.

Adrienne Greenwood (NZL) was successful in the first round of the Womens vote with the second taking place between Nazli Imre (TUR) and Marcelien Bos-De Koning (NED) a Silver medalist in the 2008 Olympics in the Womens 470 class (believed to be on the Kellett ticket). Imre won the vote, and was the only Vice President to return from the 2008-2012 session.

The outcome of the Womens Vice Presidential voting deprived the ISAF Executive Committee of the vital input of a young sailor with recent Olympic sailing experience, and a Silver medalist to boot.

Incumbent Alberto Pederi (ITA) dropped out of the vote for the Vice Presidents after the election of Croce. A second Italian would have minimal chance of being elected to the Executive Committee. Pederi, a former President of the 470 class was also believed to be aligned with the Tulla camp in the ISAF Presidential lobbying.

A Treasurer is yet to be appointed, taking up the final non-voting position on the Executive Committee - a position previously occupied by Presidential candidate David Kellett.

ISAF Committees will be announced within 60 days of the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting, however nominations closed at the end of August 2012.

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