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Getting Creative with the Future

Published on September 4th, 2018

It was May 2018 when World Sailing took on the task of re-imagining Sailing for the 2028 Olympic Games. Among the list of objectives were two big ones: equal number of male and female competitors and equal number of medals for each.

Continuity has long been a challenge, with it rare the same Sailing events continue from one Olympics to the next. While World Sailing sought to amend this issue, the IOC had other ideas, with gender balance being among them.

So after the same program for 2016 and 2020, World Sailing sought to address how there were five all-male events, four all-female events, and one mixed event. That’s 24 medals for the men and 21 for the women.

While balancing participation is easy, the only way to fix the medal imbalance was to revise the 10-event program. So with their eyes purely on the event description, and postponing the discussion on equipment until the 2018 World Sailings Annual Conference in Oct/Nov, the notable changes made in May were three new events for Paris 2028:

• Mixed Two Person Dinghy
• Mixed One-Person Dinghy
• Mixed Kite

Considering that none of these events exist in the world we know, it’s not hard to say WTF. Shouldn’t Sailing at the Olympic Games reflect the sport? One would think so, but the Olympic Games is also an entertainment enterprise, and whenever commercial interests intrude on sport, sport gives way.

As for how you create a mixed one person event, which sounds like an oxymoron, 2-time Olympic medalist Ian Walker, who is employed by the Royal Yachting Association as the Director of Racing, shared his thoughts on the topic with Seahorse Magazine:
Well before anyone gets too excited, all World Sailing mid-year decisions have to be ratified by the Member National Authorities (one member nation = one vote) at the World Sailing AGM (during the Annual Conference). This was how the decision to include kiteboarding at the expense of windsurfing was reversed in 2012.

Assuming the whole process isn’t derailed at the AGM, then the equipment for the three new events needs to be finalized by November 2019 (equipment trials in 2019). The kiteboarding fraternity seem confident that they will make a short course mixed relay work well, but what could a mixed one-person dinghy event look like? Here are three of the possible options:

A. Male and female in separate boats on separate races combining their scores
B. Male and female sailing same or different boats on same course as some form of relay
C. Male and female sailing the same class of boat in the same race and combining scores to give a team score – like a team race within a fleet race

There is a great opportunity to be creative here and maybe if the right format can be established it could really become something fun and new. If executed correctly it could also provide a supportive boost to female singlehanded sailing. The challenge is there for someone to come up with something really appealing for sailors, organizers and the media…

Note: Seahorse, the dominant international magazine for anyone serious about their racing, is available by magazine subscription or iPad download:

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