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2016 Olympics: Spanish admit error and apologise to their windsurfers

'Marina Alabau (ESP) finished 3rd in the 2012 RS;X World in Perth'    Vincenzo Baglione

The Royal Spanish Sailing Federation (REFV) has issued a statement announcing that their representative, Gerardo Seeliger, voted against instructions at the Mid-Year Meeting of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), held last weekend in Italy.

Blanca Manchón, ESP, Womens Rolex Saior of the Year 2010, is a five times World Champion -  © Rolex- Kurt Arrigo  
The Spanish say they had instructed their representative to vote for the retention of windsurfing in the vote between kiteboarding and windsurfing as Olympic class for Rio 2016.

The RFEV claim that in other ISAF Committees where Spain was represented, their representatives had voted for the retention of windsurfing, however in the Council Meeting Seeliger voted in favour of the new sport of Kiteboarding to replace Windsurfing which has been an Olympic sport for 28 years.

The vote between Kiteboarding and Windsurfing was 19-17 and had the Spanish Councillor voted according what RFEV claim were his instructions, then the controversial vote would have been tied 18-18, and it is likely that windsurfing as the incumbent sport would have been retained.

Issuing such a statement is highly unusual for any national authority, although 'confusion attacks' besetting individual Councillors in crucial votes on Olympic Equipment, are not unusual.

The President of RFEV, Gerardo Pombo, who should have been the one voting at the Council Meeting, for Area E (Spain. Portugal and Andorra), has formally apologised to all Spanish windsurfers for the error. In the www.vsail.info story it is claimed that Portugal was also in favour of the windsurfer - and it is difficult to see how any confusion could have arisen.

Additionally voting was by the manual method of formally completing a voting paper, rather than pressing the wrong button in an electronic system.

Seeliger is also believed to have addressed the Council meeting and to have spoken strongly in favour of the Kiteboards.

When voting at the ISAF delegates are supposed to vote for the good of the sport, rather than what is good for the countries or areas they represent, however it is very rare indeed for a delegate to vote for an option that is not in his country/area's best interest.

The RFEV concludes its statement noting that an online petition has been launched to re-instate windsurfing, and urges parties to sign on its behalf.

Spain’s Ivan Pastor - Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships -  Alex McKinnon  
A similar petition was launched in 2004/05 by multihullers after the dropping of the Tornado catamaran from the 2012 Olympics. However despite widespread support, it carried no weight with the International Sailing Federation who ignored the petition completely and reaffirmed their decisions in regard to the 2012 Olympic classes.

For a hard hitting commentary of the voting debacle by leading Spanish website www.vsailing.info click here.

And for a full voting list of Councillors and which event they supported see below. Five of the seven ISAF Vice Presidents, who don't represent a region, voted in favour of the kiteboard. The ISAF President did not vote at all. Click here for the list of ISAF Councilors and the areas they represent.

The translated statement reads:

The RFEV apologize for their error in the vote between kite and windsurfing as an Olympic class

The Royal Spanish Sailing Federation (REFV) announces with great regret that in the mid-year meeting of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), held last weekend in Italy, was incorrect/mistaken in voting between kitesurfing and windsurfing as an Olympic class for Rio 2016.

Marina Alabau, Lee Korzits, Zofia Noceti-Klepacka , Medal ceremony December 11, 2011 off Fremantle, Australia. -  Richard Langdon -Ocean Images ©   Click Here to view large photo
Spain has supported and supports the continuation of windsurfing (RS: X) in the 2016 Olympic Games. In fact, in recent years RFEV has invested heavily in the development of future promises of boards/stages, through the National Plan for Modernization. Also we have in the current Spanish Olympic Sailing Team some of the best windsurfers in the world who have been and also have a serious shot at a medal in past games and in the summer.

Furthermore, in other committees of ISAF where Spain has representation, as that of Events, the Spanish representatives had voted in favor of windsurfing. These committees had almost unanimously supported the maintenance of the RS: X, although they were only advisory to the Council.

In spite of all this, at the last moment the Spanish representative in the ISAF Council expressed his affirmative vote for the kite, an error provoked by the confusion of the voting system of which the federation president, Gerardo Pombo, who is responsible, wants to apologize to all Spanish windsurfers.

The community of windsurfing has started a campaign of a collection of signatures to return the Olympic status to the RS:X for Rio 2016, a change that might happen at the ISAF Annual Conference in November. The RFEV supports this campaign and invites all interested parties to sign in their favour, in http: // www.change.org/petitions/isaf-keep-windsurfing-as-olympic-discipline


ISAF Council Vote Sheet - Windsurfer vs Kiteboard 2016 Olympics -    


by Richard Gladwell

  

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9:41 AM Fri 11 May 2012GMT


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