Oops! ISAF reinstates Olympic windsurfing
DUN LAOGHAIRE, Ireland _ After much hand-wringing, the International Sailing Federation has reinstated windsurfing as an Olympic event. In an about-face, it reversed a May decision that had scrapped windsurfing from Rio 2016 in favor of kiteboarding.
Older and more popular than kiteboarding, windsurfing has been an Olympic event for men since 1984, and for women since 1992. Dutchman Dorian van Rijsselberghe (above), the 2011 world champion, and London 2012 gold medalist, said ISAF’s “had made a mess of things.”
Its 19-to-17 decision in May to can windsurfing ran against the view of ISAF’s own experts. And the group’s complex voting rules so confused Spain in May it accidentally voted to expel windsurfing. The world’s windsurfers and kiteboarders are unhappy. Van Rijsselberghe, who shifted to kiteboarding after London 2012, said, “I think both kitesurfing and windsurfing should be Olympic events.” ISAF’s change of heart means he’ll now go for another windsurfing gold medal at Rio. “I’ll gladly get back on that board. I had a lot of fun there in recent years and look forward to continue that in the years ahead, right through the Rio Games.”
Katja Roose, a Dutch kitesurfing contender for Rio, quit her marketing job this year, seeing, at age 31, Rio as a last shot at an Olympic appearance. Why not shift to windsurfing? “I’ll try it,” she said. “I have no idea if I stand a chance. I’ll have a chat with Dorian van Rijsselberghe.”
Expelling an Olympic sailing fixture of 30 years got ISAF into a lawsuit. In August, 2012, the world’s RS:X windsurfing lobby filed suit in a British court against ISAF’s “perverse and unfair” decision to dump windsurfing. The 2 sports command very different audiences. 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.
At its annual meeting, ISAF signed off on these event Olympic events at Rio:
Men’s Board -RS:X / Women’s Board – RS:X
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser / Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Men’s second One Person Dinghy – Finn
Men’s Skiff – 49er / Women’s Skiff – 49erFX
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470 / Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Mixed Two Person Multihull – Nacra 17