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Statement from the International Finn Association

by Dr. Balazs Hajdu, President IFA 31 Oct 2018 09:33 PDT
Action at Silver Cup © Robert Deaves

The International Finn Association (IFA), representing the Finn class, is very concerned that the late and unannounced submission (037-18) by the World Sailing Board to overturn the extensively discussed and democratically voted Submission M22-18 in May (including the Mixed One-Person Dinghy event and clearly indicating the Finn as the male equipment) is further driving our sport into expensive elitist Olympic events which will result in the decrease of universality and participation in Olympic sailing.

IFA concerns include:

  • A keelboat of the nature proposed by the World Sailing Board would be hugely costly. Very few nations would be able to justify such an expense. Even if the boats at the Olympics were provided (by who and for what reason?), federations would have to buy boats for training and other regattas. This would limit the event to only wealthy nations and significantly reduce the number of sailors and nations able to compete for a place at the Olympics.

  • The Finn class currently has a significant group of young sailors who are above 85kg and have ambitions to compete in the Olympics. Even if their federations could afford to campaign a keelboat, most would have no option but to stop their campaigns. Many would be lost to sailing. As shown from past Olympics with medallists such as Paul Elvstrøm, Russell Coutts, John Bertrand, Iain Percy, Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott, these sailors became some of the most prominent and famous sailors in the sport. This avenue would be closed.

  • Young sailors above 85kg would have no route to the Olympics. Is it really honest and practical to suggest that they can just sail the keelboats? [Or go and play basketball?] That is a misconception. Of course some may, but many would be unable to switch, either through the extreme cost or the availability of much older and experienced keelboat sailors in their nation.

  • The Olympics should be primarily about youth and participation.

  • The Finn class, as the intended equipment for the male part of the Mixed OnePerson Dinghy event under Submission M22-18, is a reliable option for future Olympic equipment, without the high risk and expense involved in experimenting with an untested event with unknown equipment, and which will have limited attraction to the member nations of World Sailing. In 2018 the Finn was the first class to fill the quota at the Aarhus Worlds. It is already established worldwide with huge participation levels and an appeal to the youth, with a solid class administration producing a foundation of stability and constancy. It is one of the most affordable and easily accessible classes on the current Olympic slate. Read further in the attached Appendix.

  • Submission 037-18 disregards the extensive work already done to propose the Duomix option (Submission 047-18), which should be given a chance to succeed. It is aimed at being the most captivating sailing event in the 2024 Olympic Games, for the sailors and the public, by combining individual achievement and mixed performance, providing excitement through athletic sailing performance and exhilarating races against time. It encompasses extreme skills in dinghy sailing with innovation in technology and formats, with the focus on the athletes' performance.

  • The practicalities of running a secure offshore keelboat event have also been well publicised, not to mention similar national or club level regattas and everyday training sessions. How much consideration has gone into that? And how much fuel will be consumed by coach boats during a single offshore training session?

  • The aim to meet gender equality has been already met with the current slate for 2020. In this interview, "World Sailing President on Gender Equality", it is clearly demonstrated that IOC was happy with the event slate for Tokyo 2020 as being gender equal and that full gender equality on events and athletes was not necessary until 2028.

  • Perhaps the real reason for this submission is the hope that Olympic keelboat racing will attract elusive sponsorship money and increased media presence. We feel that this event will be only attractive to a very small number of nations and increase media production costs whereas sailing is already one of the costliest Olympic sports to broadcast. Has anyone contacted the Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) or the IOC about whether they would be ready to cover these costs?
In the light of the above, the Finn class calls on all Council members and MNAs to unanimously reject submission 037-18.

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