Harken Derm

Two Years Down, Two Years To Go

Published on August 14th, 2018

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
After agonizing over the details throughout the 2018 Sailing World Championships on August 2-12, that once every four year extravaganza of Olympic classes to decide their world titles, I now fear the question I am to ask. Did any of it make sense?

It is phenomenal the repercussions of being an Olympic class. Don’t forget that each one of the boats is a one design class of its own, with class officers and often many times more class members that care little about the Olympics.

Yet by being an Olympic class, you agree to the terms needed to remain an Olympic class. Often times, this means doing things that help keep sailing in the Olympics, like modeling your regatta format to the latest Olympic format, and agreeing to hold your premier world title event amongst many others.

As if the spotlight wasn’t already divided enough at the Sailing World Championships, the focus was further splintered on how the event was being used to gain entry into the Olympics. Yes, before any sailor can compete in the Olympics, somebody from that country must prove the level of skill in that country is worthy of inclusion.

This matter of inclusion took a turn for Tokyo 2020 when the number of Sailing athletes was reduced by 30 and the total of 350 athletes needed to be split evenly between men and women. Compared to Rio 2016, this has slightly boosted the women but more significantly reduced the men.

As a result, there will be events for the men that will be harder to qualify for. And some countries that have historically competed in certain events may be left out.

At the Sailing World Championships, 101 of the 250 entries were up for grabs, and 32 countries came away with at least one. Only one country, Great Britain, came away with the golden ticket for all 10 Olympic events. Cue up ‘God Save the Queen’!

Not every country sends athletes in all 10 events. Many limit their focus so as to direct greater assets and energy on their strengths, whatever they are. Regardless, it is a huge relief to the athletes when they know their country has an entry in their event.

Canada doesn’t always send a full squad, and the two events they qualified for – Laser Radial and Finn – are their strengths. As for the USA, which claimed entry in three of their strong events, are required to send athletes to the Olympics in all qualified events. Both countries will be looking at the remaining qualifying events to gain additional slots.

While it is likely both countries will qualify for the events they pursue, it will be the next two years which determine who will get selected by their country to compete, and whether they will be a legitimate medal candidate. They both have work to do. The road to Tokyo 2020 continues!

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