Mixed feelings about the Rio 2016 equipment selection
At its mid-year meetings in Stresa, Italy, ISAF confirmed the Event and Equipment selections which will feature at the 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition in Rio de Janeiro.
Following equipment trials held in Santander, Spain, in March, the Mackay FX, to be referred to as the 49er FX, is the equipment choice for the new two person women’s skiff discipline, while the Nacra 17 catamaran was confirmed as the boat to be used in the two person mixed multihull event.
ISAF Council also voted to replace the current men’s and women’s windsurfing events with kiteboarding events for men and women which will feature at the Olympic Games for the first time.
John Derbyshire, RYA Racing Manager and Performance Director, was present at the ISAF mid-year meetings where the votes took place.
“The 49er FX and the Nacra 17 both performed well in the Santander trials and stand to be great additions to the Olympic sailing programme both in terms of the challenge they present to sailors and their visual appeal,” Derbyshire commented. “The introduction of kiteboarding, while an exciting prospect for a new discipline, the decision to replace windsurfing with kiteboarding will of course be a huge blow to the windsurfing community, and we’re disappointed for all those who are working at the coalface of the RYA’s windsurfing programmes to deliver activity and British success on the world stage who will be affected most by this decision.
“Kiteboarding made a solid case for its Olympic inclusion at the March trials and although a surprise that ISAF has voted it into the Olympic programme at this stage, it appears that the Council of ISAF wished to seize the opportunity, rather than wait until 2020.
“This decision will force the pace of change and the RYA is looking forward to the opportunity of working with Kiteboarders and the British Kitesurfing Association in order to develop the talent pathway for this new event, and to using the strengths of our UK Sport lottery funded high performance system that has become the envy of the world so that GBR is well-placed to deliver the first Olympic kiteboarding medals in Rio in four years’ time.”
Meanwhile Yachting New Zealand has said they too are disappointed with the decision to replace windsurfing, however the announcement has also brought some welcome news for the NZ Sailing Community and Marine Industry through the confirmation of the New Zealand-built and conceived 49er FX.
“We have recently invested significant resources into rebuilding windsurfing within our development programmes” said YNZ’s Chief Executive Dave Abercrombie. “This is a major setback but if it’s a fait accompli, we will have to adapt and get up to speed as soon as we can”.
Until more information is made available, including equipment and race format for the kiteboard, Yachting New Zealand is somewhat hamstrung in any decision making.
“In the meantime will be putting our high performance team together and will identify existing talent on the kiteboard, develop a pathway for youth to enter the sport, and investigate a racing structure”. Abercrombie continued.
Yachting New Zealand does not currently have a pathway to support sailors starting to kiteboard, developing skill or excelling on the world stage. In March 2011, YNZ’s Board of Directors sent a submission to ISAF to include both kiteboarding and windsurfing.
New Zealand’s MacKay Boats (who currently build the men’s 49er and other Olympic classes) have had their equipment selected for the 2016 Women’s two person skiff event, and the impact will settle deep within the sailing commuity and marine industry.
“It is an accolade of boat design and delivery for this to be going to the world market, and our women can be supported quickly into race mode” said Abercombie. “It is the best possible outcome for Dave MacKay and John Clinton who have put tireless effort into the development of these classes”.
Other companies within the marine industry will also see the benefit long term, including Southern Spars who will build the rigs, and North Sails who will make the sails. Also of great benefit are the skiff sailors, as the existing development pathway will be strengthened and participation increased for both men and women.
The final events and equipment to be included for Rio 2016 Olympic Games are...
Men's One Person Dinghy - Laser
Women's One Person Dinghy - Laser Radial
Men's One Person Dinghy (heavy) - Finn
Men's Two Person Dinghy - 470
Women's Two Person Dinghy - 470
Men's Skiff - 49er
Women's skiff - 49er FX
Mixed Two Person Multihull - Nacra 17