ISAF own-goal on road to Rio
The 2012 ‘Fawlty Towers of Sailing’ award goes to Spain which in the spring accidentally voted to oust windsurfing from the next Olympics in favor of kiteboarding. It blames its error on “the confusion of the voting system” of the international sailing federation ISAF. A costly mistake! In stead of tying 18-18, the ISAF Council voted 19-17 for kiteboarding at the 2016 Rio games. The Olympics showcase sports with a pathway for youngsters to Olympic stardom. The difference between windsurfers and kiteboarders is that the former you see everywhere and in all ages, and the latter not.
Expelling an Olympic sailing fixture of 30 years in favor of a still embryonic sport looks like an own-goal. ISAF has gotten itself into a lawsuit, alienated its windsurfer and kiteboarder camps and left unanswered the question why not both sports cannot be Olympic events.
“Kiteboarding did not choose to be pitched against windsurfing,” asserts the International Kiteboarding Association. “Both kiteboarding and windsurfing should be in the Olympic Games.” That solidarity fades fast on the internet where windsurfers call kiteboarding immature, unsafe and elitist. They say only 12 women from 10 countries participated in the 2011 Kite Course Racing World Championships against 80 women from 37 countries in the 2011 RS:X world windsurfing championships. Reasonably, kiteboarders argue windsurfing grew legs thanks to Olympic exposure. So why not a leg-up for the kiters?
In August, 2012, world’s RS:X windsurfing lobby filed suit in a British court to reverse ISAF’s “perverse and unfair” decision. And an online petition seeks to keep windsurfing an Olympic event. It is warmly backed by the Spanish Sailing Federation.