Friday, June 22, 2012

Kiteboarding is wrong choice for Olympics says expert

Sailing-Kiteboarding wrong choice for Olympics, says expert

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BEIT YANNAY, Israel, June 18 | Mon Jun 18, 2012 5:59am EDT
(Reuters) - Kiteboarding is "10 times more dangerous" that windsurfing and the decision to include the sport in the 2016 Olympics is a big mistake, a leading kitesurfing expert has told Reuters.
The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) announced the decision to include men's and women's kiteboarding at the expense of windsurfing last month, describing it as a "fantastic addition" for the 2016 Games.
However, Israel's Amit Inbar, who runs a kitesurfing school, said the ISAF did not appreciate how dangerous the sport was.
"I think they have made a very big mistake because I think the people at ISAF don't really understand the implications of the decision ... and the dangers of the sport," said Inbar.
Inbar, who represented Israel in windsurfering at the Barcelona and Sydney Games, said there was a real possibility of competitors being seriously injured or killed, particularly at race starts, and when battling for position around marker buoys.
"People have died in kitesurfing ... I'm really scared that we are going to see some very bad accidents ... it is 10 times more dangerous than windsurfing," he added.
Inbar said around 130 people had been killed in the sport worldwide and told how he recovered a kitesurfer's finger from the beach after it was severed by a kite cord.
"A kite has a lot of energy and there are many things that can go wrong ... if you put 100 kites on a course, the lines in strong winds can be like knives and at the start there are many chances for lines tangle."
While the decision to raise the profile of kiteboarding was the best thing he could have hoped for in a commercial sense, it would not benefit sailing.
"For me, business wise, it was a magical decision, because for the last 12 years I have been working in and teaching kite surfing, but as a guy who has raced in windsurfing in the Olympics, this was a very poor decision and I really hope it will be changed soon," he said.
Windsurfing supporters have not given up hope of the decision being reversed at the ISAF annual conference in Ireland in November where a final vote will be taken.
Inbar said the decision to include kiteboarding was based on sailing chiefs' hopes of making the Olympics more sexy, but he said it would not be the case.
"Kitesurfing at the Olympics will be the same as windsurfing: sailing around markers, no jumping, nothing sexy, or all the crazy stuff kite surfers do ... at the end of the day it will be exactly the same," he added.
Proponents of kiteboarding said the sport's visual appeal, portability and accessibility were ideal to get athletes from emerging economies involved.
ISAF Vice President Low Teo Ping told Reuters last month he believed there would be a tremendous boost particularly from the non-traditional sailing countries in Asia.
Israel's sailing chief Yehuda Maayan, however, said ISAF's decision to dump windsurfing in favour of kiteboarding came about as a result of an error by the Spanish delegate to the Melbourne meeting where the vote was held last month.
Maayan had told Reuters delegates were probably confused or didn't understand the motion because of language difficulties.
The Spanish Sailing Federation has since admitted its mistake saying its representative voted in favour of kiteboarding in error. (Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Further retributions follow 2016 Olympic Events vote - Gladwell

From SailWorld
Gladwell's Line: Further retributions follow 2016 Olympic Events vote

'Two of the great Womens Windsurfers Blanca Manchon (ESP) to windward of ITA’s Alessandra Sensini in the 2008 RS:X Worlds, Womens Medal Race'    Richard Gladwell    Click Here to view large photo

Protests and revelations continue to roll on the back of the controversial decision by a 19-17 vote by the ISAF Council at the Mid-Year Meeting in early May, to select Kiteboarding as a 2016 Olympic event

At its November Meeting the ISAF bracketed the Kiteboard with the Windsurfer, for selection as an Event for the 2016 Olympic Games. A final decision was to be made in May 2012, pending evaluation trials conducted in March. The Mid-Year meeting was staged at Stresa a resort on picturesque Lake Maggiore, near Milan, Italy.

Despite a recommendation of 17-2 for the retention of Windsurfing by its expert committee, the ISAF Events Committee, who considered a report from an Evaluation Team it established to trial Kiteboarding in March 2012, and advise on its suitability, the Council of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), the world governing body for the sport, swung the other way and in a close vote decided to promote Kiteboarding ahead of Windsurfing for the 2016 Olympics.

Immediately after the Stresa meeting the Spanish Sailing Federation President, and Council member Gerardo Pombo took responsibility and apologised for the actions of their substitute Council representative for Area E comprising Andorra, Portugal and Spain.

It was claimed that the Spanish Federation RFEV only decided, after publication of the voting lists, to issue an apology for the actions of the very experienced and highly intelligent, Gerardo Seeliger, who it was claimed by RFEV was confused by the voting system.

Gerardo Pombo (right) one of the foundation members of the Club Náutico Español de Vela -  Event Media  
Prior to the publication of the voting lists, the Spanish had maintained they had supported the Windsurfer according to a letter sent by five times Womens World Windsurfing Champion, Blanca Manchón to the Spanish Olympic Committee:

I have personally requested an explanation from the President of the Royal Spanish Sailing Federation, Gerardo Pombo, who hours before the publication of the list of countries of the aforementioned voting was defending tooth and nail that Spain had voted in favour of windsurf. Once the list was made public he rectified and issued a statement on RFEV’s website, recognizing the mistake: 'It was just a mistake, a simple voting mistake.' As if to tick a box was so difficult so that one would err in something so transcendental, in this case for the Olympic discipline of windsurfing and all the infrastructure that was put in place throughout all those years.

Seeliger is believed to have given a lengthy and passionate address in favour of the Kiteboard, so clearly alarms should have been sounding amongst the Spanish and Portuguese support team, if indeed he was genuinely confused.

Further Spain is a world force in the Olympic windsurfing discipline, so a vote against the current Olympic event would probably have had a very significant impact on his country's Olympic medal chances in 2016.

Additionally, like many other established and developing sailing countries, the Spanish Federation had invested heavily in windsurfer development. For the RFEV with the the financial support of their Olympic Committee, this investment, had resulted in several world championship wins.

That confusion was again attacked in a tirade on Spanish TV news , by Blanca Manchón, who is also a former ISAF Sailor of the Year, when she verbally launched at the Spanish Federation. The same RFEV who was last in the international headlines for their endorsement of the Club Nautico de Vela – a paper yacht club they helped establish, and whose doubtful challenge for the America’s Cup triggered a three year in the New York Supreme Court.

The statement issued by RFEV read in part:

Blanca Manchon (ESP) RS:X Women - Semaine Olympique Francais 2011 -  Jean Marie Liot ©   Click Here to view large photo
'In fact, during the recent years RFEV has heavily invested in the development of future windsurfing promises, through the National Plan for Modernization. Moreover, the current Spanish Olympic sailing team has some of the best windsurfers in the world that have been and are all serious contenders at a medal both at the previous Olympics and the next ones this summer.

'Furthermore, in other committees of the ISAF, where Spain is represented, such as the Event Committee, the Spanish representatives had voted in favour of windsurfing. These committees had almost unanimously supported the maintenance of the RS: X, although they were only advisory to the Council.

'Despite this, at the last moment the Spanish representative in the ISAF Council gave his vote for the kite, an error caused by the confusion of the voting system. The Federation President, Gerardo Pombo, takes responsibility for this error and wants to apologize to all Spanish windsurfers.'

The other two countries in Area E, Portugal and Andorra have not come out with official comment on the vote of their representative; however it is believed that Portugal supported the status quo – the retention of Windsurfing.

Venezuela outs its Vice-President

Next up was the letter from the Venezuelan Federation of Sail, disassociating itself from the vote of one of its nationals, ISAF Vice President Teresa Lara. She was one of seven ISAF Vice-Presidents allowed a vote. Five of these voted in favour of the Kiteboard and only two in favour of the retention of the Windsurfer. While Vice-Presidents, and indeed all Councillors are allowed a free vote, in terms of doing what is best for the sport, this notion must be sheeted to reality in terms of the impact on the sport, in the region they represent.

Venezuela is bundled into Area O in the ISAF Council and has two representatives, one from the Cayman Islands and the other from the Dominican Republic. Of the 22 countries in the Group, only two, Cuba (1948) and Bahamas (1956) have won Olympic sailing medals.

It is not known if Venezuela thought their interests were covered by Lara, their Vice President. However their reaction was fairly clear when Venezuelan Federation of Sail issued a statement advising their 'total and absolute disagreement with the decision made by the representative of Venezuela within ISAF (V.P Teresa Lara Anzola).'

Neighbouring Brazil an Olympic powerhouse, in Group N along with Paraguay, voted for the Windsurfer. As did Group M comprising Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay.

Asian and Indian reaction
Since May, the flurried reaction has not diminished.

ISAF Council Vote Sheet - Windsurfer vs Kiteboard 2016 Olympics -    
An email from the Windsurfing Association of Singapore says that a meeting will be held on June 30, 2012 of the Asian Sailing Federation to consider their situation. The ASF has 26 member countries and spans three of the 17 ISAF Council Regions. Some are minnows in terms of their international sailing footprint, but others such as China and Japan have hosted Olympic Games.

The Councillor for Area K, which contains India and Singapore and six other nations, voted for the Kiteboard. The Board Sailing Association of India claims that the Yachting Association of India instructed the Councillor, Ajay Balram, that they wished to maintain the status quo, in other words – Vote for the Windsurfer.

The letter dated June 14, 2012 claims that 'Mr Balram by his own admission did not bother to consult us or any of the Group K Countries and voted for Kitesurfing (sic), in spite of knowing full well that Kitesurfing (sic) does not exist in India.'

'His vote was crucial in Windsurfing being removed from the 2016 Olympic Games' the letter adds – a reference to the 19-17 vote on the ISAF Council. One vote the other way would have tied the ballot, and forced the ISAF President to exercise casting votes which by tradition and rules of meeting conduct, is for the retention of the status quo.

Then came the turn of Singapore’s TP Low, another ISAF Vice President. Low has been attacked by the President of the Windsurfing Association Singapore (WAS), claiming in an email in mid-June that Low did not consult the Singapore Sailing Federation and WAS before making his decision.

Tim Khoo, President of WAS writes ‘it is necessary that I clear up that Singapore does NOT (sic) support Kitesurfing (sic). It is actually banned on our beaches because of the close proximity to the airport.

WAS and SSF stand firmly behind Windsurfing as we have put a lot of time, effort and money into training our windsurfers, in the hope that they will peak for the 2016 Olympics. Audrey Young is a product of this program and she won a Bronze medal in the Inaugural Youth Olympics in 2010.

Kiting on the other hand has no program in place, nor will there be plans to train 'sailors' (sic) for this event. There is not even a Kitesurfing (sic) Association in Singapore.'

Khoo’s email cites the meeting to be held on June 30, 2012 as an Extraordinary General Meeting to 'question the voting Asian representative who comes from India' along with TP Low.

ISAF Council under the spotlight

ISAF Council - ISAF Annual Conference 2010 -  ISAF ©  
If proven to be correct, the allegations made, call into serious question the process of the ISAF decision making process at Council level. One error is perhaps understandable but the extent of this level of disconnection at the top echelon of the ISAF decision making process is not.

That concern is mirrored by the decision of the ISAF Events Committee who recommended by a vote of 17-2 in favour of the retention of the Windsurfer for the 2016 Olympics, but supported bringing kiteboarding into the ISAF World Cup circuit from 2013.

While it is all very fine to say that Councillors have a free vote and act in the best interests of the sport, in a democracy, those decisions must be held accountable to the sailors and regions they represent. The ISAF Constitution requires that Council members 'shall have regard to the interest of the sport of yachting throughout the world as a whole.'

That requirement notwithstanding, surely it is not acceptable for Councillors to vote without being in touch with their member regions and national federations, given the significant investment that is made in training programs and equipment for an event such as windsurfing. Where is their compass?

The reactions of the affected Associations is expected to made known in a number of ways – by direct repudiation of their representatives as RFEV has done. There may be some sanction imposed on what some might consider rogue Councillors by their regions and/or national bodies as Venezuela have done. Or there may be some names missing, when the ISAF Council and Vice Presidents are nominated in November, for the coming four years.

Of the three notional ISAF Presidential candidates only one Carlo Croce (ITA), a substitute for Councillor Sergio Gaibisso (ITA) Group D, voted the Windsurfer.

Of the other two, Puerto Rican, Eric Tulla, one of seven ISAF Vice Presidents voted for the Kiteboard. David Kellett (AUS) is ISAF Treasurer and does not have a vote.

In a further twist, two weeks after the Mid-year Meeting, Surfing New Zealand claimed jurisdiction over Kiteboarding from Yachting New Zealand, highlighting the fact that the ISAF Council had promoted an event into the Olympics for which very few of its members had affiliated associations within their ranks.

The next meeting of the ISAF will be in Ireland in November.

But this is an issue that will not go away.
by Richard Gladwell


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This is a fantastic letter from a Mom regarding the ISAF decision.

ISAF vote to axe windsurfing from 2016 Olympics - A parent's view

'Noelle Finch - RS:X Youth World Championships in Cagliari, Sardinia'    Rory Ramsden    Click Here to view large photo

I am writing this as the parent of a young windsurfer who, in the debate about the decision by ISAF to axe windsurfing from the 2016 Olympics, seems largely unrepresented.

Our daughter, Noelle, is 17 and the current female U17 RS:X European and World Champion. She was the youngest in the fleet and fifth U21 in the recent RSX Senior Europeans in Madeira in March of this year. She was first selected for a national windsurfing squad within the RYA in the UK in 2006 and was U15 European Champion (on the Bic Techno) in 2009. She has been part of a fantastic RYA youth training programme which has given her the support and guidance to develop. She absolutely loves windsurfing and now, six years on, doing her sport has become a way of life, a commitment which has meant juggling school and exams while training and competing.

This decision has taken this from her.

Noelle Finch. Photo: Ricardo Pinto RSX European Windsurfing Championships 2012, Madeira -  Rory Ramsden  
She has many young friends in the UK and globally in the same situation. Who is representing them here? They are surely the foundation and future of most sports – young people with talent and passion and the drive and determination to work hard towards a goal. The journey is just as important and it is wrong for all sport for this to be destroyed in this case so needlessly for so many.

We feel that the RS:X class has met all the requirements placed on it by ISAF and ticks all the criteria for being an Olympic discipline. Noelle has just competed at 'Sail for Gold' in Weymouth where many people were saying: 'We never thought windsurfing would be voted out'.

Why? As I understand it, because the expectation was that the system would not allow for the Council to disregard the recommendation of their own experts who voted 17-2 in favour of windsurfing.

Kind regards,

Fran Finch
by Fran Finch


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7:47 PM Wed 20 Jun 2012

Saturday, June 2, 2012

My Response to Dean Brenner's latest post which I quote here is made just below his post.

"I had some great conversations and dialogue on this with lots of people over the last couple of weeks. Not everyone is going to agree on issues like this.

But the part that I think people forget is that there are only ten events in the Games, for men and women combined. That means that based on simple math, something is going to left out. singlehanded, doublehanded dinghies, skiffs, multihulls, boards, kites, and oh yes... keel boats! The math doesn't add up. No one segment of our sport has the absolute right to be an Olympic class, yet when something gets removed from the Games, the tone from many is that heir fundamental right has been trampled.

I've also heard from lots of people that Boards has a great pipeline program that is now going to be useless. There has been some great strides made in the board community to begin a pipeline program, but let's remember that boards have been in the Olympics since 1984. There were a lot of years with no development efforts, and only now has some momentum been established.

This whole discussion may be moot. We'll see how the efforts go to get a revote in the fall. This may be much ado about nothing.

Sail fast,

Dean Brenner"

 Dear Dean,

It's not that the rights of windsurfers are being trampled. It is that the WRONG decisions are being made for the WRONG reasons. That offends everyone's sense of right and wrong. Ben Barger's analysis of this issue which you can find on Facebook (see below) shows how badly the process went from the beginning. Yes there are only ten classes but you don't

A) Swap out the second most popular class to admit kiteboarding.
B) Pretend that kiteboarding has an established path to the Olympics (required by evaluation prescriptions) and enough safety to be even considered for youth sailing.

As to saying it took 38 years to establish a strong youth program for windsurfing
C) As a point in fact Robby Naish won his first World Championship at 13 years of age in 1976! Pretty youthful and just 7 years after the sport was invented.

D) And as a counterpoint if it takes 38 years to develop a strong youth program (the largest youth event ever will probably happen this summer in with 400+ Techno 293 windsurfers at Medemblik Holland) then why change to another event before it has had a chance to properly mature and solve the issue mentioned in B above.

I would like to see US Sailing join Venezuela, Spain and Israel in officially criticizing the ISAF decision and asking for a simple majority vote on either windsurfing or kitesurfing.

Will US Sailing do that?

Platt Johnson
(Kitesurfer and Windsurfer and Sailor)

Robby's Resume

General info - 19,000 plus members
 Appeal against kite surfing in the Olympics put windsurfing back in

Ben Barger's analysis
ISAF Athletes Commission - The Sailors Voice!

Another country joins Israel and Spain in officially criticizing ISAF decision

Techno 293 Worlds