Olympic sailing as we knew it ended in Barcelona 1992.
Having recently read various articles, mainly on Social Media, about “what’s next…” regarding the Olympic categories of the 2024 Olympic Games , I thought that the best thing would be a discussion with Dimitris Dimos, the man who in recent years he follows the happenings closely and represents our country at most World Sailing conferences as a committee member. All of the following could be described as a ‘summary’ of an interesting conversation between two people who love sailing and share the same concerns.
The lost innocence of sailing, ‘travelled’ after the end of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Since then, the Olympic Games have been held six more times. For most of us triangle sailing is in the back of our minds with Finn, Laser or 470 boats, far from any idea or eye of onlookers. Three miles from land was once the limit to ‘set up’ the track with Olympic triangle courses, which had endless oars, three in number and boats that had relatively lower speeds than today’s, such as the Flying Dutchman, the Europe or the Soling. Races back then had different requirements, a different race strategy and tactics, and athletes physically fit enough to endure 2-3 hour races – and sometimes two such races in a row. Years have passed, times have changed but sailing has also changed for the better as we all tend to say.the sport that entered the Olympic program at the first Olympic Games in 1896 (but did not due to weather conditions) . The question is rhetorical and probably very difficult I would say, certainly not without a clear answer.
I made the entire introduction above to refer to the changes that are foreseen or discussed in view of the 2024 Olympic Games , in Marseille, France. Because the Olympic classes influence the world system of sailing in the triangle classes as we like to say, there is in recent years a basic principle supported by World Sailing*. This principle provided that only two Olympic categories can be changed in view of the next Olympic Games, i.e. 2024 and not all together, so that there are no negative consequences for the sport. Ultimately the principles are meant to be ‘broken’ as it seems, and in the case of the WS which – you want from the pressures put on it for Kiteboard, you want for the famous balance of the numbers of sportsmen and women coming from the IOC, it does not respect them and Aeolos’ bag has already been opened since all the Olympic categories that we know to date and that we will see in the Tokyo Olympic program may be under review and possibly out of the Olympics .
Let’s look at the changes that have already been leaked and where they will be decided by electronic voting among the members of the corresponding committee of World Sailing, they will be voted on and sent to the supreme committee of World Sailing (council) for voting and finalization, in the coming weeks and not in May 2018 as originally planned!
The first big change is the number of athletes who will participate in the games. From 380 in Rio 2016, they will drop to 350 in total and of those 175 will be men and 175 women in a complete numerical balance. The soilless and artificial equality, in my opinion, brings great storms that will hardly become bounties. It is the first time that an absolute quota of 50%-50% is mentioned. Until now there were women’s categories that had the corresponding quota, depending on how many women were involved in the sport worldwide, which of course are clearly fewer than men. Certainly in the sport there are not as many women as men: of course the percentages have improved, but men were and always are more. WS’s excuse that the IOC wants 175 men and 175 women has become sweet in the mouths of sport chiefs and will of course create many paradoxes
First let’s take the imbalance of the Finn division with the 20 men not having a corresponding women’s event to compensate. Everything shows, therefore, that this difference of 20 athletes should be removed mainly from the men of the Laser Standard who will be reduced to 35 and correspondingly added athletes in the women’s events to equalize the athletes of Finn. Thus, in the Women’s Radial, there will be 44 entries, making it much easier for any country to participate in this category. All Muslim countries now starting women’s sailing will almost certainly have easier access to the Olympic program than countries that have a huge sailing history and history and with years of presence in the men’s boats like Finn and formerly Tornado, Star, FD and but.
In the rooms where these analyzes take place, an ‘easy’ solution that is often discussed for the 50%-50% issue is mixed crews. The image that comes easily to everyone is that of Nacra, which, however, has probably not succeeded and is certainly not what characterizes world sailing. The easy solution mixed crew has many problems:
What will happen to the supernumerary male athletes who, due to the absence of suitable female athletes in their country, will no longer find a place in the Olympic categories?
What will become of the feeder classes (Laser 4.7, Radial, 420 and so many others)? Should these also become mixed?
What will happen to all e.g. the Muslim countries that will not be able for religious and cultural reasons to man a mixed vessel?
Also, not all boats are equally flexible in such a change. Especially on boats like the 470, where the crew on the (one) outboard is the one giving most of the torque to sail without heeling, petite girls with big men may be chosen for crews but the opposite is unlikely to happen. –Boats with two outriggers like the Nacra17 or 49er skiffs do not have such a problem since the torque comes equally from both crew members.
They don’t really care about the sailing part as we think about it or have experienced it. They are interested in the easy solution to balance the numbers on the people given to them by the IOC. Maybe they think that this easy fix can give them extra medal ‘spots’: If you say the 470 and 49er become mixed, then you automatically win two sets of medals and it easily puts two types of Kiteboard on the Olympic program so it’s all but all happy!
In conclusion, let’s mention the ‘rumor’ or the ‘news’ that Kite is being promoted again instead of Windsurfing, as in 2011, which finally did not happen then, to add another category to women’s single-seaters that will compensate for the numerical problem of Finn, a light women’s boat that probably doesn’t exist today. Finally, all two-seaters will become mixed– so together with Nacra17 there will only be 3 two-seater races against at least 6 single-seaters! This ratio certainly does not represent the current state of sailing. They are also thinking of adding an offshore race again with a mixed crew . The idea is for the offshore boat to be given to the competitors by the organizers and the boats they will be competing with waiting for them at the event. The offshore boat will be able to have as a crew some of the athletes who will compete in the following days in the remaining Olympic categories (if it is held earlier) for example a Laser athlete and a 470 athlete, so that the sailors can also leave for the first time since the Olympics with two medals, like the swimmers, the runners and so many others.
The review process, the so-called Review, should have already started a long time ago but in World Sailing they have been left behind and so everything will end in May 2018! The final decisions will be made there. The proposals of the committees will be taken by electronic votes and not in person, even though this procedure is supposed to exist only for matters of minor importance! At the end of January, the representatives will vote on which event they propose for review and thus the Council in February will make the final decisions, but the IOC is not in too much of a hurry since it approves the boats and materials for the Olympic Games three years before they are held. Of course, until 2024, “a lot of water will run down the drain” and we will have time to read several different opinions.