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ISAF Olympic Committee drops windsurfing in favour of kiteboarding

In a shock announcement ISAF has decided to drop windsurfing from Olympics in 2016 in a vote of 19 to 17. This was in contradiction to the recommendations of the earlier meeting which recommended that both sports were worth keeping, that the ISAF should ask for an extra set of medals for kiteboarding, but if that was not possible then windsurfing be retained as the Olympic class and kiteboarding including as a demonstration sport. Contrary to all these reasonable and common sense proposals the final vote was probably based on the various countries assessing as to where they may be able to win medals in the future, not on the future of the sports or the wider good.

Its disappointment for all those kids currently with Olympic aspirations, the RS:X and Techno293 sailors, classes and clubs with a focus in that area. This will throw these groups into some confusion as they try to refocus. The windsurfing community will need to maintain and build on the momentum which has been regained in the last few years without the Olympic dimension.

It's also a big problem for YNZ and NZOC - where are they going to get sailing medals from now? Over the last 25-30 years windsurfing has been responsible for all New Zealand's Olympic yachting medals, and only now has YNZ begun to seriously look at integrating windsurfing into its culture. It would be serious mistake to drop this momentum now, because although the Olympic focus has gone, the reducing youth involvement and long term involvement in sailing will continue, and even accelerate unless the sailing community recognises and responds to the growing number of options available.

Ironically, following on the windsurfing experience, YNZ will be tasked with taking on Olympic kiteboarding, will get all the funding, but is unlikely to do anything to create youth development or promote the sport, especially in the non-olympic and recreational areas. All the funding will be in the high performance Olympic sport area, and the other aspects of that sport will probably languish in a no-mans land of funding and support.

There appears to be no national kiteboarding body or event coordination, the sport is very immature in that regard, so it will be interesting to see where things go now.

There has been an immediate reaction from the windsurfing community -

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