After the considerable time spent on the “problem” of the Olympic Events and Equipment for the 2024 Olympics, a line was finally drawn with confirmation of the World Sailing Council event listing on Sunday.
President of World Sailing Kim Andersen maintained a calm authority throughout a long week of meetings and manoeuvring, and the anti-climactic AGM that brought the 2018 Annual Conference to a close.
Despite the considerable outside noise from social media and sailing pundits, President Andersen kept a tight control of proceedings, and with careful adjustments to the agendas moved things along to a game-changing conclusion.
The last-minute insertion by the Board of a Two-Person Mixed Offshore Keelboat event submission, despite lack of information on how it would actually work, replaced the Mixed One-Person event, sounding the death knell for the Finn.
Together with other related decisions on Equipment criteria this gave the new list of events a genuine cross-section of active sail racing events for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The new Offshore Keelboat event together with the new Kiteboard event, with careful selection of equipment and racing formats, will widen the viewing opportunities for a large sailing sector that may have had little interest in the dinghy events that currently comprise the Games.
For Olympic sailing these are major changes, particularly in such a time-scale, achieved with the loss of the iconic Finn, in a rather slight-of-hand manner.
But unless the IOC was going to give sailing more events, something had to go, and there could be more to come.
Britain has taken Gold in the Finn class at the last five Olympics
There are many other areas still to be tackled with regard to Equipment selection.
Equipment trials will be required for the Mixed Kiteboarding and Mixed Two Person Keelboat Offshore, the Mixed Two Person Dinghy has to be settled, and the RS:X faces possible up-dating.
Anti-trust rules also require re-selection trials for the Laser and Radial involving the D-Zero, Melges 14 and RS Aero in the new year.
When it comes to fleshing out the Offshore keelboat event and equipment, it will be interesting to see how, or if, it fits into the World Sailing Cup series, if that is even a feasible route.
With the Olympics programme settled (for now) MNA’s around the world will be asking how they are going to tackle so many changes. For many of the smaller associations it will be a none-starter.
The Tokyo 2020 Games will be the end of an era, not just for the Finn class, but for a programme of sailing events that has defined our view of top-class sailing . . . Paris 2024 will change that.
The return of a keelboat in a completely new format (for the Olympics) and the introduction of Kiteboards, together with other updates to the formats and classes promises to reset how we think of top competitive sailing.
Change was required, and what had looked like a it was heading for chaos has narrowly been avoided.
There will always be winners and losers, but with goodwill and careful management this outcome could provide a firm foundation for future Olympic Sailing.