If you are considering competing in the Paris 2024 Olympic sailing events you need to be hitting the water very soon.
The RYA has a habit of making its Olympic its choices well ahead of the Games – Paris 26 July to 11 August 2024 – so that means from September 2023 the RYA Olympic Steering Group will be announcing their first selections.
This gives potential competitors less than two years to make their mark in their chosen class . . . and remember that there has been a considerable shake-up of Olympic classes and formats for 2024.
Of the ten 2020 Olympic ‘sailing’ events only five remain:
- The RSX board has been swapped for the IQfoil board for both men and women’s events.
- The 470 man and women’s events have been scrapped and the 470 event is now a single mixed male/female event.
- The Finn class (heavyweight men) event is scrapped and replaced with men and women’s Kite foil events.
Five events continue from the Tokyo Games:
- The men’s ILCA7 (laser)
- The women’s ILCA6 (radial)
- The men’s 49er Skiff
- The Women’s 49erFX skiff
- And the mixed male/female Nacra17 multihull.
These changes remove two of the British gold medal ‘bankers‘ from future contention, Giles Scott in the Finn and Hannah Mills and Elidh MacIntyre from the women’s 470, and 2018 silver medallist Luke Patience from the men’s 470 . . . at least in the format that brought them Olympic medals
But it does introduce a host of new opportunities in the four new board events and a chance to regroup in the 470 class with new mixed crew combinations.
The RYA website has still to fully reflect the new Olympic formats, but does list IQ foilers and Formula Kite alongside RSX and Finn team members, giving some clue as to how the Team GB sailing team is likely to develop over the coming months.
And no doubt the RYA is hard at work with a rewrite of the Olympic Classes Handbook, the bible for all aspiring 2024 Olympic sailors.
This document lays out the Olympic sailing class and qualification events, eligibility and the systems used to provide travel grants to key international regattas, and essentially the entry criteria to the World Class Programme organised and run by the RYA.
But time and tide wait for no man, and while the 2021 Team GB medalists continue on the talk circuit . . . 2024 hopefuls are hitting the water.
And with the British Sport UK funding for Paris 2024 already allocated – Sailing will receive £21.3 million between 2021 and 2025 plus £3.5 million of Athlete Performance Awards, a total of £24.8 million – expect the British Sailing Team to be back in action ASAP.
There have been several Olympic class events in recent weeks and over the coming weeks things really start to ramp up with the IQ Foil European Championships taking place in Marseilles, France (22 t0 28 Oct).
And then in Mussanah, Oman, there are a run of Olympic class events.
The Men’s ILCA7 (Laser) worlds Nov 3 to 10, the Nacra 17, 49er, 49erFX 2021 Worlds Nov 16 to 21, and the Women’s ILCA 6 (Radial) 2021 Worlds from 29 Nov to 6 Dec.
With the World Sailing website still seemingly in lockdown, perhaps waiting for the long promised rebuild, little has been revealed of its intentions for the World Series in the lead-up to Paris 2024.
After the chaotic World Sailing internal selection process for the 2024 Games, culmanating in the embarassing rejection of the offshore event selection by the IOC. World Sailing was backed into a corner, facing the possible loss of an event and doubled down on male and female kite board events to save face.
It has yet to be seen if the new top management, after years of disastrous decisions and infighting, can really change its spots and regain its former status.
If not then it is likely we will see a gradual withering of Olympic sailing as we know it, with the focus shifting to a mishmash of board and ‘urban’ beach events to represent communities and engage with younger on-line audiences.
But at this stage of the Olympic cycle at least, it is all down the individual national authorities as they get to grips with the fall-out from the previous World Sailing regime, and reconfigure their teams for a very different foucussed Paris 2024.