Paris 2024: Opportunity, opportunity

Published on April 19th, 2021

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
When the vote came in for the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Program at the 2018 World Sailing Annual Conference, there were near equal parts relief and frustration. Continuity is king in the world of Olympics, and the plan for 2024 had little of it. New events. New equipment.

But after witnessing the World Sailing committees navigate their own regulations, while seeking to meet new International Olympic Committee (IOC) requirements, I had immense compassion for the storms they were facing. The result was the result, like it or not.

For me, what I never liked was, to achieve the ten events with equal participation and medals for men and women, the Men’s and Women’s Two Person Dinghy events, which had existed using the 470 since 1988 Olympics, were to become one Mixed Two Person Dinghy event in the 470.

I thought to myself, when does the status of Olympic Equipment become more burden than benefit for a Class Association?

Competition within the 470 Class at the highest level would implode two events to have one. More so, the 420 Class, an ideal feeder for aspiring youth sailors, would be impacted too. It felt forced, and the math did not add up. A men’s and women’s division, when combined to create a mixed division, would lead to attrition.

However, the 470 Class sucked it up and started hosting mixed competition alongside men’s and women’s events in anticipation of this switch after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The class had become so dependent on its Olympic status that, without the Olympics, the class may not survive.

But the recent news of how the IOC is not convinced about the new Mixed Offshore Keelboat event for Paris 2024, and their request for World Sailing to submit alternative event(s) for this 10th medal at Paris, has opened a door the 470 Class should sprint through.

The rules for this submission are massively complicated; think jigsaw puzzle. There are nine events that have been approved, and while this alternative submission can’t change any of these events, it can split one of the three mixed events into separate men’s and women’s events.

Of the three mixed events, the Mixed Multihull (Nacra 17) and Mixed Kiteboard (Formula Kite Class) were designed as mixed events, whereas the Mixed Two Person Dinghy (470) was forced.

Reverting the Two Person Dinghy event back to men’s and women’s resets to a proven formula, with nations able to utilize their existing investment to the benefit of the sailors, and the 470 Class returns to a stronger position as an organization.

If the IOC nukes the Mixed Offshore Keelboat event for Paris 2024, returning the Men’s and Women’s Two Person Dinghy events is a decision I would like.

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