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SOS: Over 13,000 sign Petition in just three days...

by Ben Nicholls 4 May 2018 13:16 PDT 5 May 2018
Giles Scott (Finn) in action at the Princess Sofia Trophy regatta in Palma, Mallorca © Robert Deaves

The following letter has been sent to World Sailing President Kim Andersen today by one of the signatories to the Save Olympic Sailing petition, it sums up a number of supporter's comments.

Dear Mr Andersen

Olympic Classes

I am writing to you as a grass roots sailor who has raced dinghies for 45 of my 52 years.

Let me start with some background. I’m an average, though enthusiastic, club sailor - I have made it to a few World Championships over the years but always to make up the numbers. I have no Olympic aspirations. I suppose you would describe me as a fan - I do happen to watch sailing on TV although I’d say it’s generally not good TV - certainly never will be for those who aren’t sailors. I follow almost everything online, America’s Cup, Volvo, Vendee Globe. I can remember clearly listening to Bond winning the Cup for Australia on a transistor radio under my duvet at boarding school in 1983. I’ve even been known to watch World Sailing Committee meetings on line - there can’t be many who are prepared to put up with that sort of torture.

Most recently I have spent a huge amount of my spare time supporting my children’s sailing: running the Cadet Squadron at the one of the largest Cadet clubs in the UK - possibly the World; 4 kids travelling Europe and the World and striving to achieve their potential; 4 Cadet World Championships so far and attending more Laser Radial events home and abroad than you can shake a stick at. So we are pretty plugged in to that side of things and we understand the commitment it takes to get somewhere near the top. I also know how important my little Sailing Club at Waldringfield has been in training, nurturing and supporting the children and what it takes to keep that club producing the sailors of the future year in year out.

Against that background I’ve never felt the need to contact World Sailing until now. But what appears to be in danger of taking place now changes that. It’s time for people like me to speak up. You, Mr Andersen, represent me, my children, the Olympic squad sailors worldwide and the now 8 thousand plus signatories (and counting) to the petition you will doubtless be aware of on Change.org.

World Sailing is in danger of forgetting our interests. It’s time to explain to the IOC that sailing will never make mass market TV. It’s time to explain the virtues of the Finn class - the fine athletes who sail them and how it’s the only Olympic class today that allows larger men to compete. It’s time to accept that TV coverage of Rio Sailing was awful - missing the big winds outside the bay time and again. It’s time to explain that introducing new foiling options will make the sport more elite and less accessible. It’s time to recognise that kitesurfing is not Sailing - I’m not saying it shouldn’t have a place in the Olympics, just not at the expense of a sailing class.

It’s time to be honest. Our sport is what it is...it’s already been diminished by medal races - who can forget the Star Class in Weymouth where 12 races (from memory) determined that Percy and Simpson were the best sailors and one ridiculous medal race off the Nothe determined that they wouldn’t get the Gold they deserved? Have you ever sailed there? You should, the idiocy of holding races there would become immediately evident. Please do not allow our sport to be diminished any further.

Of course we must have gender equality - I have 2 girls and 2 boys as it happens. But you should be able to achieve that without wholesale changes to the Olympic line up.

You may say this is all to be decided by committee. But there are rare occasions when great leaders need to take the lead. This is one of those. Please do not hide behind excuses, please show some leadership and help your committee take decisions which reflect the wishes of those who World Sailing represents.

Yours sincerely,

The Save Olympic Sailing online petition was posted three days ago by Ben Nicholls (Soton, UK) in reaction to World Sailing's proposed review of five of the Olympic classes/events, an anti-trust compliance review by the world body of both the Laser and Windsurfer (RS:X) used in the current Olympic line-up.

After a slow start the petition rapidly gathered momentum in the last three days and as of 2100hrs (UTC) on May 6, stands at over 13,000 signatories with sailing fans continuing to sign at the rate of three a minute.

An Open Letter opposing the large scale changes, has been signed by six Olympic sailing medalists and the world's most successful Olympic sailing coach.

World Sailing will commence its Mid Year Meeting next Thursday at the Chelsea Football Club, London to consider over 65 submissions from World Sailing's 139 member national authorities, 100 class associations and World Sailing's committees. World Sailing claims the widespread change is in response to Agenda2020, a document published by the International Olympic Committee.

A second petition launched in January aimed at garnering support to keep windsurfing in the 2024 Olympics has over 22,000 supporters click here to view and support

In 2012 a similar petition to have windsurfing reinstated in the 2016 Olympics attracted over 30,000 online supporters.

Click on the "Read More" button above to see the petition and show your support

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