LONDON (#1006) – This morning there has been an unprecedented and, frankly, almost unbelievable development in the continuing controversy surrounding the selection by World Sailing of the 2024 Olympic Classes. WS President Kim Andersen (DEN, accompanying photo) has made a "President's Late Submission" via letter emailed this (Thursday) morning to Member National Authorities and WS delegates which, he made clear, "is a personal submission, not a World Sailing Board submission."
The submission is Mr Andersen's view of what the 2024 Olympic events should be after having "...spent many days reading through the submissions made by our members, many of which were making proposals for positive change, whilst others only appeared to wish to obstruct the process of change."
In a nutshell, the President's proposal maintains, no surprise, the current Laser (men single), Laser Radial (women single), 49er (men double), 49er FX (women double) and Nacra 17 (mixed double, meaning one man and one woman). He would add to this "maintained" list the RS:X men (windsurfer) and RS:X women (windsurfer).
That covers seven of the ten medal events allocated by the IOC to Sailing. The surprising and radical bit is Mr Andersen's proposal for the other three:
+ Mixed One Person Dinghy – a "Two Person Team Event in New Equipment" to replace the Finn (the current "men single heavyweight" class). However, later in his proposal Mr. Andersen seems to suggest that the retained men's single (above) could be the Finn instead of the Laser, the retained women's single could be the Laser Radial, and this new Mixed One Person Dinghy Team event could then be held in the Laser.
+ Mixed Two Person Dinghy – in "New Equipment" that, in effect, combines and replaces the current 470 men and women into one mixed (one man, one woman) event in a new class TBD.
+ Mixed Kite Board – a "Two Person Team Event in New Equipment" that would fill the tenth spot created by the combination of the 470 men/women into one mixed event.
What in the world is a "Two Person Team event"? We understand this does not mean two-boat team racing with one boat raced by a woman and one by a man and against another two-boat team. Rather, it would be an event in which the same boat is raced by a man in a fleet race against other men, then by a woman (of the same country as the man) in a separate fleet race against other women, with the man's and woman's scores then combined. The "mixed two person team" with the best combined score wins the event and hence gold medal. This, Mr Andersen submits, would apply for both the Mixed One Person Dinghy event and the Mixed Kite Board events.
At the outset we said that this is an unprecedented and almost unbelievable development. Now you can see why. To wit:
First – Making any such proposal, let alone one so radical, after the meetings have already begun. The WS Board is meeting in London today, with other delegates already there or en route for meetings over the weekend and early next week.
Second – Having four mixed events. Few other Olympic sports have any mixed events; Sailing already has one (Nacra 17), and under Mr Andersen's proposal would have four.
Third – Creating an entirely new type of event – Mixed Two Person Team. While we've never heard of this, probably somewhere in our big, diverse world of Sailing, and maybe, too, in Kiting, something like it this has been tried. Great! We are all for thoughtful innovation. A mixed relay race might even be interesting (hot swapping the boat after the first sailor finishes, like the baton being handed to the next runner in an Athletics relay). Regardless and certainly, Mixed Two Person Teams is not a tried and true event let alone one that is popular and widely used in Sailing around the world.
It is the firm opinion of many, including your Ed., that the Olympics is far too important to be the test bed for radical, new experiments with events – even those that might look interesting on paper – not that this is, but we'll keep an open mind until we hear the considered views of our Dear Readers and other sailors (Olympic and non-Olympic), classes, clubs, etc., from around the world.
Sailing Illustrated believes Olympic Sailing should continue to embrace event formats and classes that reflect the global and popular practice of the sport of Sailing, not some new brainwave that pops up without any prior, broad consideration let alone existing use in the sport.
Read the full text of President Andersen's cover letter here, and the "President's Late Submission" here.
The chart from the President's Late Submission, circulated today by the World Sailing office for WS President Kim Andersen (DEN). The text accompanying the asterisks (*), "subject to equipment review – all options possible."