How Olympic sailing shake-up affects New Zealand

Author
Christopher Reive, NZ Herald,
Section
Yachting,
Publish Date
Thursday, 17 May 2018, 10:24AM
Yachting New Zealand will embrace the opportunities presented by a change. (Photo / Jason Oxenham)
Yachting New Zealand will embrace the opportunities presented by a change. (Photo / Jason Oxenham)

Yachting New Zealand will embrace the opportunities presented by a change to the Olympic sailing programme at the 2024 Games.

At its council meeting in London this week, World Sailing agreed to incorporate kiteboarding into its programme for the Olympic Games in Paris at the expense of a dinghy event.

Of the events current on the Olympic programme, the men's and women's two-person 470 and the men's Finn may not have a future beyond Tokyo in 2020. Of the three dinghy events, one will drop out entirely to fit in kiteboarding. The other two will become a mixed one- and two-person events.

"There's still a great deal of unknown," Yachting New Zealand chief executive David Abercrombie told the Herald from London. "Until member national associations understand what the format around these events are and what the equipment is, it's very hard for someone to go out and purchase equipment with a view that this is what the Olympics equipment will be."

The two dinghy events will be mixed to allow an equal number of men and women to take part but a number of nations felt it was hard to understand how a mixed one-person dinghy event would work, Abercrombie said.

Concerns had been raised within the sailing community about the inclusion of a kiteboarding but Abercrombie said its inclusion was a strategic decision made by World Sailing, with the sport in danger of losing a medal class. Over the past cycle, sailing saw its competitive quota lowered from 380 athletes to 350, and the International Olympic Committee had signalled the sport would lose more if they did not change.

"It's a bit of a compromise. I don't personally feel it's best for the sport but in saying that, it is what it is. It's a process driven by World Sailing and as far as Yachting New Zealand is concerned, we're just going to have to make the most of it.

"If you flip it on its head, maybe it's an opportunity — let's look at it in a positive light and see how we can make the most of it."

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