Olympic debate

Peter Bentley comments on Paul Henderson's plans for change
That Paul Henderson is on the warpath with respect to the Olympic regatta comes as no surprise. And to a greater or lesser extent, he is right to be. But being right does not mean that ISAF President Henderson will have an easy time getting things changed. The whole structure of ISAF, right down to the very roots of its constitution is designed to resist change. Indeed the very essence of a class association is to maintain the status quo. The National Authorities also have an interest in keeping things as they are. If you had invested tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds in a 420 and 470 squad for the last two decades, how keen would you be for the 470 to be replaced as an Olympic class? The simple fact is that the process by which the Olympic classes are selected is based more on politics than the good of the sport. Anyone who has witnessed the unseemly lobbying, debate and decision making at an ISAF November meeting will have quickly worked out that it is all about alliances between National Authorities and Class Associations. If we vote for this will you vote for that? And the object of the exercise more often than not: to try and make sure nothing changes. While Henderson’s suggestions for a new structure make sense, they still show evidence of pandering to the established classes. Why not simplify the situation still further? Why not have just five events, with a men’s and women’s division in each? A singlehander, a double hander, a keelboat, a multihull and a windsurfer would represent every facet of sailing in the world today. ISAF could either use the 11th medal for a mixed class or earn some brownie points with the IOC and simply hand it