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Star class makes dramatic return for Tokyo 2021

by Mark Jardine 31 Mar 2020 17:00 PDT 1 April 2020
Star Medal Race at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition © Tom Gruitt / www.tom-gruitt.co.uk

With the Tokyo Olympics being delayed for a year, a little-known clause in the World Sailing Constitution has been activated, leading to reinstatement of the Star class in the Olympic sailing competition.

The 23ft keelboat was originally designed by Francis Sweisguth in 1910 and sailed continuously in the Olympics from 1932 until 2012, only missing out on the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Timothy Fawcett-Lacy of the World Associate Sub Technical Executive spotted the clause while thumbing through the constitution for some light bedtime reading, as he describes: "Clause 4 (a), Subsection C of the third Appendix clearly states, 'If an Olympic Games is delayed for a period of more than 4 (four) months, then the most recently-dismissed keelboat class shall be reinstated to the roster with immediate effect."

The reinstatement initially caused consternation in other Olympic classes, as one would have to make way for the Star, but Timothy soon allayed their fears: "It would seem that back when World Sailing was the IYRU, before it became ISAF, there was a sticky situation which needed resolving within the IOC which only sailing could find the answer for. Clause 4 (b) doesn't go into the specifics of the situation, but states 'To ensure athlete numbers are maintained at the Olympiad, Rhythmic Gymnastics will be removed from the Games in question.'. We may well be living in extraordinary times now, but it's clear extraordinary decisions have been made in the past as well!"

Some of the top sailors in the world have continued to sail the Star and are now readying themselves for a tilt at Tokyo 2021. Indeed it now seems obvious that the Star Sailors League was set up to allow many sailing legends to keep up to pace in the keelboat.

An anonymous source within World Sailing commented on the surprise announcement, "Nothing surprises me nowadays, apart from someone clapping when I'm not expecting it. So technically my statement is false, as surprise clapping surprises me, which is surprising in itself."

While the Star's return is currently only valid for the Tokyo Games, the overwhelming majority of the sailing community believe it will also be selected for Paris 2024 as the mixed two-person offshore keelboat.

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