Wrong Trials

What this Opinion does not Challenge

The May 2011 decision to combine Windsurfing and Kiteboarding into a single ‘Board and/or Kiteboard’ event, both for Men and for Women, has been and continues to be criticized in the Sailing community. Windsurfing and Kiteboarding are very different disciplines, and we share the community’s sentiment that the decision to combine them into a single event, and make the decision between them a question of equipment selection, is the root cause of a lot of the problems facing us today.

However, we do not at this time see an immediate regulatory issue with that particular decision. This doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be re-examined on different grounds, but the focus of the present opinion being on regulatory problems, we do not challenge it.

New Event vs. Retained Event

Are “Men’s Board and/or Kiteboard” and “Women’s Board and/or Kiteboard” new events or retained events for the 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition?

  •  They can be considered New Events simply because no event thus labeled exists at the 2012 Olympic Games.
  •  On the other hand, if the RS:X had been selected at “The Vote,” or were to be selected in the future, the Men’s and Women’s Board and/or Kiteboard events for the 2016 Olympic Games could be substantially similar to the windsurfing events at the 2012 Games. In that context, they can be considered Retained Events.

Whether those events are New or Retained, the selection of equipment for those events falls under ISAF Regulation 23.1.3(c):

23.1.3(c) – New Equipment shall only be selected following Equipment trials or other evaluation against the specified criteria, and shall be decided no later than November of the year four years before the Olympic Games.
ISAF Regulations http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/2012RegulationsWebsite-[12337].pdf

The Kiteboarding Trials that took place in Santander in March 2012, and the Reports that were submitted to the ISAF Events Committee and the ISAF Council as a result of those trials, do not constitute satisfactory “Equipment trials or other evaluation against the specified criteria.”

Those trials were designed to examine racing formats and event management issues for Kiteboarding, with the narrow objective of determining whether Kiteboarding could be added at ISAF events, more precisely at the ISAF World Cup and ISAF Sailing World Championships. This is illustrated by the following decisions and recommendations:

Nov. 2011:

The Events Committee also recommends that ISAF should appoint a small and specialist evaluation team to look at the format and event management implications for including kiteboarding within ISAF events.
Minutes of the ISAF Events Committee at the 2011 Annual Meeting http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/2011EC0911-[11743].pdf (p. 6)

Nov. 2011:

On a proposal from Chris Atkins, seconded by Pablo Masseroni, Council approved the recommendation from the Events Committee that a small and specialist evaluation team be appointed to look at the format and event management implications for kiteboarding (1 reject, 1 abstain, 35 approve – 37 participated).
Minutes of the ISAF Council at the 2011 Annual Meeting http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/MINCO1011-[12394].pdf (p. 46)

The accidental omission in the Nov. 2011 Council minutes of the last few words: within ISAF events, does not change the fact that the focus of that evaluation was ISAF events, not the Olympic competition. This is further confirmed by the following conclusions:

May 2012:

a) Kiteboarding is ready to be included as an ISAF event for both men and women.b) By introducing Kiteboarding to ISAF events both ISAF and the IKA can work to promote a new discipline of sailing, finalise safety, equipment & competition rules, look to develop new formats & spectator opportunities and align NKAs with ISAF MNAs.c) Kiteboarding can add new interest to the ISAF Sailing World Cup and ISAF Sailing World Championships by helping to promote sailing to the media and the IOC. Effectively Kiteboarding can provide a real opportunity to help promote sailing.

d) Safety issues are slightly different for Kiteboarding and it would be essential to have a well-trained team on the racing area (size of committee boats, tangled ropes, cutting the kites, jumping).

ISAF Kiteboarding Format Trials – Evaluation Report, May 2012 http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/EC8bKiteboardingEvaluationReport-[12443].pdf (p.2)

The above statements are evidence that the evaluation that took place was not designed or run to serve as an equipment evaluation for the 2016 Olympic Sailing competition, and cannot therefore be construed as substitution for it.

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