This is the time of the year to look back at the year past with the benefit of hindsight and look forward to what the year ahead may bring.
A top sailing media story of 2018 was undoubtably the changes made to the sailing events and equipment for future Olympics (post 2020) and how they were achieved. This received much sailing media comment, when some World Sailing (WS) members complained that their votes had been incorrectly recorded.
This was swept aside by World Sailing President Kim Andersen as . . . there is no conclusive evidence to show any failure of the voting system, and any incorrect votes were due to voting errors by the members themselves. Well that sorted that!
The Finn class ‘took one for the team’ and the classes that survived the cull seem to have taken the stance of . . . ‘keep your head down and carry on’ .
Although these changes resonated with the top-flight sailors directly affected, they seem to have had little effect at the grassroots level of sailing, where the mere existence of sailing clubs, as we know them, has been more of a feature.
The 49er, FX, Nacra17, RSX, Finn and 470 are hardly raced as fleets at club level in the UK, so the loss of Olympic status and the tinkering with event structure is hardly likely to be noticed at your local club.
The two dinghies that do feature in regular club sailing – Laser and Radial are up for re-selection, but the outcome of that process, even if a new dinghy were to be chosen, is unlikely to have a major effect at club level.
Indeed, the actions of World Sailing and the Member National Authority’s ‘representing’ us seem to have passed most sailing club members by.
But that is unsurprising when there seems to be little connection with the realities of sailing club life and the National Authorities where Olympic class sailing is involved, let alone with World Sailing.
It was all presented as a deal or no-deal situation with no other options possible and apparently with even the very existence of sailing in the Olympics hanging by its fingertips and depending on these votes ( . . . Sound familiar?) .
I cannot remember there being any debate in the UK regarding the position that the UK Member National Authority – the RYA – was taking over the lack of Olympic sailing events in the UK or the selection of the classes and events for Paris 2024 and how they might impact dinghy sailing in the UK.
So looking ahead to 2019 we have a lot of blank spaces to be filled, and we know that the devil is always in the detail.
The sea-trials for a new Olympic Men and Women One Person Dinghy are almost ready to roll, and the tender stage of the equipment for the Men and Women Windsurfer events has been announced.
There is also the equipment and the format of the racing for the new Mixed Kiteboard event to be decide.
And the equipment and format for the new Mixed 2 Person Keelboat Offshore event, also possibly requiring sea-trials if there is a rush of builders wanting to get on the Olympic band-wagon.
The other new event that has not raised much comment as yet, is the new Mixed Two Person Dinghy event.
When room was required for the Keelboat and Kiteboards, the two 470 events were replaced with a new Mixed Two Person Dinghy event, with the apparent general idea that the 470 would still be used, but with a mixed gender crew.
No (public) decision has been made to date, so the equipment for the Mixed Two Person Dinghy event is still up for grabs, and will be decided later in 2019, based on evaluation against the specified criteria without equipment trials being required ?
These final event and eqiuipment decisions will be made at the World Sailing Mid Year Meeting in May and then presented to the International Olympic Committee for their approval.
One bonus for World Sailing could be the Olympic offshore event . . . the eGamers will be rubbing their hands . . . An Olympic offshore event !
While the changes for the 2024 Paris Olympics made the headlines – in the sailing media anyway – What may have a more lasting effect on World Sailing was the presentation of the Governance Commission Report.
Maria Clarke’s comments on the WS Decision making process were damning – with the process used in May and again in November at Sarasota to decide the 2024 Olympic Events and Equipment, being held up as an example of the poor/inefficient decision-making process.
Strangely this did not merit a mention in the latest WS Presidential Newsletter.
A Happy New Year everyone – But Be Careful What You Wish For . . .