Sailing Event changes for Paris 2024

Published on May 15th, 2018

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
When the curtains open for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, on display will be the initial results of a document that was unanimously agreed at the 127th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Monaco on the 8th and 9th of December 2014.

Titled Olympic Agenda 2020, enclosed were 40 detailed recommendations to define the future of the Olympic Movement. The mission was for the IOC to present a clear vision of where the organization was headed and how to protect the uniqueness of the Games and strengthen Olympic values in society.

More to the point, this document was to instruct each Sport on how to define its program of future Events.

With a primary tenet to balance gender participation, there will now be new mixed-gender events in archery, athletics, judo, swimming, table tennis and triathlon in Tokyo. Another priority was for youth-focused innovations and dynamic formats, which led to the inclusion of new Sports such as Skateboarding, Sport Climbing, and Surfing.

When World Sailing first read Olympic Agenda 2020, they were faced with a dilemma. They could ignore the document and maintain an earlier promise to its member nations that the Rio 2016 program would continue for Tokyo 2020, or make changes to the 10 Events to please the IOC.

World Sailing kept its promise, a gutsy decision for which the IOC would make them pay. While continuity would continue, and an effort to ensure a balanced number of men and women would participate, putting forth 10 Events that were not significantly different was not meeting the IOC vision. The punishment would be a reduction of athletes from 380 to 350.

World Sailing feared a greater punishment by implementing a similar tactic for the Paris 2024 Olympics, and after much debate at World Sailing’s Mid-Year Meeting, a new program of 10 Events have been confirmed. While 7 Events at Tokyo 2020 will continue, there are 3 new Events that at this stage are just words on a paper:

5 Events to remain unchanged from Tokyo 2020:
• Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
• Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
• Women’s Skiff – 49erFX
• Men’s Skiff – 49er
• Mixed Two Person Multihull – Nacra 17
Note: Equipment for One Person events subject to evaluation

2 Events to evolve from Tokyo 2020:
• Men’s Windsurfer
• Women’s Windsurfer
Note: Equipment and format subject to evaluation

3 new Events for Paris 2024:
• Mixed One-Person Dinghy
• Mixed Two Person Dinghy
• Mixed Kite

Of all the proposals, it was the submission from the Romanian Sailing Federation which was approved. What do we know about these 3 new Events? Not much at this stage.

There are bits of insight in the Romanian submission and the Formula Kite Class, which will be a new form of Sailing to participate in the Olympic Games. Additional statements come from the Finn Class and the 470 Class, which have been used in the Olympic Games since 1952 and 1976, respectively, and hope to retain that status.

The Romanian plan was for the Finn and 470 to remain in use, but all Equipment (ie, boat type) for these Events, or for any other Events for which the Equipment is being evaluated, won’t be decided until the 2018 World Sailing Annual Conference in November.

The challenges ahead are immense. While it is possible to create unique events for the Olympic Games, innovative formats then puts pressure on the Class Organizations which support the selected Equipment. Changes at the Olympic level can be transformative to the wider sport of Sailing.

But change is in the DNA of Sailing. While some class boats have significant heritage, and their design reflects the thinking of that era, new classes embrace modern knowledge. This has translated to how the Event program for Sailing has seen drastic change since the first Olympiad in Athens 1896, and this continues for Paris 2024. Onward!

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