Fascinating Submission

Interesting moves happening in the Olympic world with the announcement of a Joint Submission from the International Finn and Europe Classes to World Sailing demanding that they be considered for the possibly delinquent medal being debated around the double-handed mixed keelboat offshore event. Dr Balazs Hajdu and Paul Depoorter, Presidents from the respective classes are proposing a joint team event mixing genders across the classes and they are bang on the money here.

Good on them. This is a great submission and deserves to be taken seriously. I do, however, feel sad for the double-handed keelboat event that is very much the zeitgeist of the times. The discipline is gaining in popularity, not just offshore but inshore too as witnessed by the JOG fleet on the Solent recently and in the States.

But if the Olympic Goons (how on earth does one get on these committees?) can’t quite make the leap of faith with fully supplied free equipment then what more can be done? The Finn and Europe classes mixing it up with a totally new gender-diverse team concept would be a brilliant, brilliant substitution and breathe a level of fascination and tension into sailing at the Paris Games that would be nail-biting. Bring it on.

The full submission to World Sailing is here:

The International Finn Association and the International Europe Class Union would like to make a joint submission for the tenth event at the 2024 Olympic Games, should the Mixed Offshore Keelboat be rejected.

The proposed format would consist of a combined team score across a series of races. Team sports are common across the Olympics, so this is something the IOC and spectators can easily identify with. Both the Finn and Europe classes are well-established international classes with an extensive series of regattas worldwide, and a competitive number of boatbuilders conforming to anti-monopoly regulations, providing lower costs for MNAs around the globe.

In addition, they represent a tradition of sailors of different physiques that have written legendary pages in our beloved sport, a legacy worth protecting and whose loss could never be replaced. Sailing is one of the few sports that can cater for Men and Women of different physiques. Conscious of that responsibility, World Sailing rules have always guaranteed Olympic options for these sailors to continue a tradition dating back to the early years of sailing.

That same reason led the Council in 2017 to pledge that sailors with different physiques would have an opportunity to compete at the 2024 Olympic Sailing Competition (Submission 70-17). The inclusion of our Classes in the Olympic programme is the only solution that would permit heavyweight men and medium lightweight women to be competitive and enjoy our sport, while maintaining absolute gender and event equality across all ten events.

The Mixed One Person event would continue the tradition of providing a technical challenge to sailors at the Olympics, while catering for different sailor physiques and facilitating improved investment in female sailors around the world.

More importantly perhaps it would also keep many top sailors in Olympic sport that otherwise would give up after Tokyo as there would be nothing left for them to sail. The Finn class has unique links to the America’s Cup and plays a key role in a long held pathway through the sport. The Europe class is a previous Olympic class with many of the same technical qualities as the Finn and is still flourishing worldwide. That legacy must be maintained.

We would like to reassure you of our best intentions to make this workable and a success, and we hope you will give this proposal serious consideration.

Let’s see where this one goes. World Sailing need to get on this as a matter of urgency and it will not be good enough if they come back to the sport having lost the offshore double-handed event with no replacement. The pressure is on. The sailing world is watching and it’s their authority at stake.

Fail here and World Sailing won’t be thanked. Offshore double-handed or Finns and Europes. Please don’t let us down.

6 thoughts on “Fascinating Submission

  1. Just an act of desperation by the Finn class and with pathetically little imagination. Why on earth would anyone want to bring back the Europe, a primitive version of an Int Moth from the 70s. Girls are now sailing foiling moths such as Wazps but that might look a bit too flash in contrast to the heavyweights lumbering around in Finns. it should never have turned into a competition between the double-handed off shore and this. Kitesurfing is not sailing and should be completely separate from sailing medal quotas.

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  2. Despite pressure from many MNA’s, WS has refused to come up with a plan B if offshore is turned down which is equity likely. Seems like they will be at mercy of IOR who is pushing a 2nd kiting medal. Not great for Sailing as a sport to lose two medals to kites who should have their own federation

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  3. When I was a little girl, I was very interested in the Olympics. I think a lot of kids go through cycles of reading about them whenever they come around, but I would read books about the Olympics even when they weren’t going on as well.

    And yet, despite all of that, I don’t think I realized sailing was an Olympic sport until I was in college. Some of this is obviously because it isn’t emphasized very much in the US TV broadcasts, but re-reading some of the books I read as a kid now, I also realize that it was rarely mentioned (and then only in passing) in the BOOKS available for children in the US interested in the Olympics in the 2000s.

    The 2008 edition of the National Geographic photobook “Higher, Faster, Stronger”, for example, mentions sailing only twice— when describing a Flying Dutchman crew abandoning their race to help a competitor whose boat was sinking as an example of good sportsmanship at the Olympics and when saying it was one of the sports held at the Atlanta Olympics— and features no photos of it.

    The 2005 edition of DK’s “Eyewitness: Olympics” only mentions sailing in the list of Olympic and Paralympic sports to be included in Beijing, and the only picture showing sailing is on a commemorative coin from the Sydney Olympics among a set of other coins showing other events. Somewhat ironically, the book does include the sentence “Winners in the less well known sports, such as shooting and yachting, are often the unsung heroes of the games.” but does nothing to attempt to make those sports better-known to its readers.

    Clive Gifford’s “Summer Olympics” (2004), does have a page about water sports that features a sailing photo and a paragraph describing Ben Ainslie as a medalist in 1996 and 2000, but nothing else.

    I haven’t re-read EVERY book from my youth, of course, but these three are ones I remember reading and a general trend does seem to emerge.

    The sort of sport sailing I WAS aware of in those years, at least vaguely, was offshore racing, not through sports publications but as a geography nerd. I remember reading an interview with Ellen MacArthur on the National Geographic website as a tween and finding her in several of the more recent “great explorers and adventurers” books I read (especially those focused on female adventurers), so I did have a vague idea of who she was and as a tomboy stuck with long and tangly curls by my parents, I remember being jealous of her androgynous haircut.

    So, in my opinion, the proposed offshore double-handed event seems to me like something that would garner more attention for Olympic sailing in the kinds of reference sources children have access to. The offshore element would appeal to the basic concept that most children vaguely have from fiction and history class of sailing as a way to get between places, across the ocean, dealing with storms and such hazards. The duration of the event under such unusual conditions would make it a trivia question— “Which Olympic event sends competitors away from land for X days?”, which children’s reference books love. I think mixed offshore doubles is the event that would be more likely to make it into the kind of books I read as a kid because it would be presenting an image of Olympic sailing as an *adventure*— an adventure open to both boys and girls.

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