ISAF Council rejects Soling from Olympics

Match racing is no longer an Olympic discipline - for men or women - but the 49er stays in

Friday November 10th 2000, Author: Andy Rice, Location: United Kingdom
Match racing is no longer an Olympic discipline, following momentous decisions made at the ISAF Annual General Meeting in Edinburgh on Thursday 9 November. After almost 30 years as an Olympic class, the Soling is put out to grass to make way for a women’s fleet racing discipline. The 49er, the darling of the sailing world and yet at one point so close to rejection, lives to fight another Olympics.
The Events Committee was invited to present their recommendations to the main Council meeting, and as a first step they asked Council to reconsider the slate of events which had previously been approved in November 1998, as in their opinion three keelboat events and only five dinghy events did not accurately reflect current participation in the sport.

The Events Committee ensured Council took a long hard look at the potential change to the slate of events, by saying that if they had to make a decision using the existing slate of five dinghy events they would be compelled to recommend the deletion of the 49er. Their argument was that the Finn is the only dinghy for heavyweight males, the Laser is widespread, affordable and easily available, and the 470 is popular for lightweight men and used in emerging nations and should reflect the equipment used in the women's double-handed event, and obviously there was no challenge for the Europe's slot.

Being forced to consider the 49ers removal from the Olympic schedule was enough to convince the Council, with a majority consensus, to reconsider the slate and change the three keelboat and five dinghy events to two keelboat and six dinghy events. This decision meant the removal of the Keelboat Open to be replaced by the Double-handed Dinghy Open.

With two keelboat events then approved - one for men and one for women - Council then reconsidered whether they should be fleet or match racing. Again, to reflect the participation around the world, it was decided that both keelboat events be fleet racing. Big decision number one - no more Olympic match racing.

It was then time to decide the equipment for the slate of events, starting with the windsurfing. There was a move from some quarters to postpone the decision on the windsurfing to look more closely at the two types of equipment - Mistral and Formula Windsurfing - in contention, but Council put its foot down, in the interests of enabling the sailors to know the direction of their sport, and forced a decision.

It was an ISAF first when the Council then implemented an electronic voting system to make the decisions on the equipment. Although in the windsurfing there was support for Formula Windsurfing, it was the established Mistral Class that won through. But the Multi-hull Open saw almost unanimous support for the modernised version of the Tornado, to include a spinnaker and double trapeze.

In the Single-handed Dinghy Men, there was no question - the Finn came through as clear favourite, with the Europe in the Single-handed Women slot. Double-handed Dinghy Women saw the 470 voted in, which was then reflected in the Double-handed Dinghy Men. The Dinghy Open slot was taken by the Laser, with the new Double-Handed Dinghy Open for the 49er. All pretty predictable.

But that left the crunch decision - the Keelboat Men Fleet Racing vote, putting the Star against the Soling. Someone has to lose even the closest of elections (ask Al Gore) - and it was the Star that went through with a three vote advantage.

The decision on the equipment for the Keelboat Women Fleet Racing event presented a slightly different scenario as all recommendations on equipment had been made based on a match racing event. So the Council agreed that representatives from the appropriate Committees would meet again and make a join recommendation for presentation at midday, 10 November 2000. Maybe they'll chose the Soling - stranger things have happened (ask George Bush).

So the events and equipment, with the exception of the Keelboat Women Fleet Racing, have been approved as:

Event Equipment
Windsurfer Men Mistral One-Design
Windsurfer Women Mistral One-Design
Multi-hull Open Tornado with spinnaker and double trapeze
Single-handed dinghy women Europe
Double-handed dinghy women 470
Single-handed dinghy men Finn
Double-handed dinghy men 470
Double-handed dinghy Open 49er
Dinghy Open Laser
Keelboat Men - fleet racing Star
Keelboat Women - fleet racing To be decided Friday 10 November 2000

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