SAN FRANCISCO – Today comes yet another sign that the Windsurfing community has gone on the offensive after Sailing Illustrated broke the news in December that World Sailing has a radical plan to overhaul of the 2024 Olympic Classes. The latest is a petition drive launched on change.org entitled, "Keep Windsurfing in the Olympics for 2024."
This new initiative follows a recent article by Neil Pryde on behalf of Windsurfing, a link to which we ran in an SI Daily Digest last week.
The posting on change.org encourages Windsurfers and their admirers to sign a petition, and to flood members of the WS Events Committee with emails in favor of maintaining the Windsurfing Olympic status quo. You can see that change.org post, complete with email address for the Events Committee, here.
The Windsurfers may, however, be barking up the wrong tree as the Events Committee has a history of being overturned by the WS Council, especially when the Executive Board has a strong view. One hears World Sailing President Kim Andersen (DEN) and CEO Andy Hunt (GBR) are pushing hard for the replacement of windsurfing with foiling kites – wanting to "modernize" the Olympic class line-up with what they believe are more telegenic kite-foilers.
WS President Kim Andersen (DEN).
SI is not taking sides on this political hot potato, at least not yet, but the Windsurfers would be well advised to get the email addresses, and phone numbers (all in the World Sailing directory) of the Council and Executive and start lobbying them, too.
And despite World Sailing's denial that they would not be using "electronic voting" to decide the issue – voting by email, as we also reported was their intention – WS have since issued a long statement confirming just that, beginning with preliminary email votes in next month and culminating at the World Sailing Midyear Meeting in London May 12-15 (not that you can yet find any information about that meeting under the Meeting tab on the WS website).
Windsurfing is not the only discipline that stands to lose under World Sailing's radical plan. Both the 49er and 470 classes would be cut back to one "mixed-gender" medal (male and female on each yacht) instead of separate medals for men and women as is the current line-up. This to free up medals for an offshore long-distance race, and an additional women's singlehanded class – so that men and women each have two single-handed classes (men currently have Finn and Laser; the women only the Laser Radial).