Is it Yanny or Laurel?

Published on May 17th, 2018

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
Prior to World Sailing’s Mid-Year Meeting which would determine the Events for Sailing at the Paris 2024 Olympics, there was a great debate on whether Kiting should be part of the discussion. Kiters weren’t sailors, they said, and should not be taking a medal away from the Sailing Events.

This argument was pitched despite the International Kiteboarding Association being under the umbrella of World Sailing since 2008, kiteboarding nearly becoming an Olympic event at the 2016 Games, kiters being awarded the US Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards, and how kiteboards use the Racing Rules of Sailing.

Kiters shouldn’t feel so bad. People call windsurfers “air rowers” when they start pumping their rigs, and all Finn and Nacra 17 athletes have in common is their need of the wind. Now that kites are in for Paris 2024, can we all get along? Can I keep saying ‘trim the kite” on my Alerion 28?

Competing for control is not unique to Sailing. As a new sport for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Surfing now finds itself in conflict over an event. The International Surfing Association (ISA) officials have launched an emotional plea to retain control of the discipline of stand-up paddle (SUP) for the sake of the world’s athletes.

It comes as the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) have ended their mediation of a row between the ISA and the International Canoe Federation (ICF) over who controls the discipline – despite a lingering state of deadlock.

The two governing bodies were unable to agree over the terms of reference for CAS arbitration.

The ISA seeking a ruling on the grounds of who has been responsible for the evolution and history of SUP, while the ICF sought a ruling based more on the right to competition and the avoidance of monopolies.

The ISA insist that they have longstanding experience in the sport and have only faced interference from the ICF since they tried to add the discipline onto the programme for the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.

“Look at the historical record,” ISA President Fernando Aguerre told insidethegames. “Who was there when the baby was born, who took it to high school and ensured it graduated with good grades?”

Aguerre claimed that the ISA have invested $5 million (£3.7 million/€4.1 million) in stand-up paddle since 2008 and, aside from the use of a paddle, refutes the suggestion that the event bears any similarity with canoeing.

They claim that ICF intervention led to the blocking of their application for stand-up paddle to be included at Buenos Aires 2018 before an attempt to ensure the event featured at the inaugural Association of National Olympic Committees World Beach Games in San Diego in 2019 was also blocked.

SUP racing and surfing events will, however, still feature under the ISA banner alongside short and longboard surfing at next year’s Pan American Games in Lima.

The dispute has also led to National Federations in some countries, including Denmark, being unable to secure any funding for stand-up paddle.

The ISA hosts its own World Championship with the most recent edition in Vorupør in Denmark in September.

The ICF have, however, awarded their first World Championship in SUP in Esposende/Viana do Castelo in Portugal between August 30 and September 2.

“This is all very frustrating,” said Casper Steinfath, a Dane who is a four-time world champion in SUP as well as a member of the ISA Executive Committee and the ISA Athletes’ Commission.

“The YOG [in Buenos Aires] is a huge missed opportunity for the stars of tomorrow.

“The recent notice about the ICF World Championships is confusing and frustrating.

“Athletes are shaking their heads because the ICF do not have any track record in organising events.

“To my knowledge, none of the top athletes have shown any interest in competing.”

At present, it is hard to see how any sort of agreement between the two sides will be brokered soon.

“The argument is over the legal issue of law,” said ICF secretary general Simon Toulson. “We want CAS to make decision over the sport solely on cold hard facts as CAS generally do. For some reason ISA is against this.

“We are disappointed because they have done a U-turn since this started with the IOC meeting and now we are at a stalemate.”

The ISA reject this narrative, however, and claim to have offered to compromise by relenting and allowing the ICF to administer events at the national level.

The World Games in Birmingham in 2021 is another event where stand-up paddle will not now feature despite apparent overtures from both bodies.


Editor’s note: If you missed the ‘Yanny or Laurel’ debate, what do you hear:

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