Will Mixed Offshore Keelboat event be approved for Paris 2024?
Published on April 13th, 2021
When World Sailing received feedback from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the event program for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the IOC approved only nine of the ten events in December 2020.
The 2024 program had incurred a significant overhaul to meet new requirements by the IOC, with the introduction of the new Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat Event expanding the sailing competition beyond dinghies and boards and beyond closed course racing.
While this event has helped to increase interest in shorthanded sailing, the IOC wanted to further review the event in order to properly assess the key considerations around safety and security of the athletes, with a decision to be no later than May 31, 2021.
However, rumors are the pendulum is not swinging strongly toward confirmation.
To achieve the IOC’s mandate of equal men and women competing, and the use of common equipment for both genders, the Paris 2024 sailing program proved to be quite a jigsaw puzzle for World Sailing, and the piece that wouldn’t fit was the Finn Class, the longest tenured boat at the games.
Used as the equipment for the Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy event, the elimination of this event and boat for Paris 2024 would close out a chapter that began at the 1952 Olympics. This decision was not popular among its fans, pointing to the elite history of sailors from the class, and noting how larger people – suitable for the Finn – no longer had an event at the Olympics.
But as the latest rumors swirl, the Finn Class has partnered with the Europe Class, a singlehanded women’s event used in four Olympics from 1992 to 2004, in a pitch to World Sailing. Here it is:
Dear Mr President, Board Members of World Sailing,
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 (member nations) 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.
Dr Balazs Hajdu, President, International Finn Association
Paul Depoorter, President, International Europe Class Union