10 July 2020

Kiteboarding replaces windsurfing at 2016 Olympic Games

May 8, 2012
Kiteboarding replaces windsurfing at 2016 Olympic Games

Windsurfing has been controversially axed from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and replaced by kiteboarding, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) has announced at its mid-year meeting in Stresa, Italy.

Kiteboarding has been described as combining wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, and gymnastics into one extreme sport and has been chosen to make its debut at Rio following the report of an evaluation group appointed by the ISAF.

The decision has been met with surprise and frustration within windsurfing and an online petition has been set up to keep it as an Olympic discipline.

John Derbyshire, the racing manager and performance director Royal Yachting Association (RYA) said, “The decision to replace windsurfing with kiteboarding will of course be a huge blow to the windsurfing community, and we’re disappointed for all those who are working at the coalface of the RYA’s windsurfing programmes to deliver activity and British success on the world stage who will be affected most by this decision.”

Britain’s Nick Dempsey, the 2004 Athens Olympic bronze medallist, wrote on his Facebook page, “Wow, unexpected. That was a big decision and a very sad day for windsurfing.

“My heart goes out to all the aspiring champions and kids with dreams of windsurfing at the Olympics.”

It means that windsurfing’s last appearance in the Olympics for the foreseeable future will be at Weymouth and Portland, the venue for the sailing events at this year’s Olympics.

“These announcements mark a new era for sailing and we welcome the new classes into the ISAF family,” said Göran Petersson, the President of the ISAF.

“The equipment selections have fulfilled the criteria set out by the Evaluation Panel and we look forward to seeing the boats not only at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but the ISAF Sailing World Cup and ISAF Sailing World Championships.”

Britain’s Bryony Shaw (pictured) , who won bronze in Beijing at the 2008 Olympics, said on Twitter, “Windsurfing is me… I am windsurfing!

“My focus on London now seems heightened!! New discipline for Rio… New challenge…!”

Windsurfing had been part of the Olympic programme since making its debut at Los Angeles in 1984, with its most successful athletes having included New Zealand’s Barbara Kendall, who won a gold medal at Barcelona in 1992, silver at Atlanta in 1996 and bronze in Sydney 2000.

The ISAF’s Council also made some other significant decisions, including restoring a catamaran class for 2016, adding the Nacra 17.

It has also replaced women’s match racing event with a women’s high performance skiff event, choosing the 49erFX.

The events to be contested at the 2016 Olympic Games are confirmed as:

Men’s Kiteboarding
Women’s Kiteboarding
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Men’s One Person Dinghy (heavy) – Finn
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s skiff – 49er FX
Mixed Two Person Multihull – Nacra 17

Lizzie Flint, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

Photo credit: Richard Langdon/Skandia Team GBR

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