Olympics: Offer to change vote on Rio windsurfing

By David Leggat

Kiteboarding will replace windsurfing at the next Olympics.
Kiteboarding will replace windsurfing at the next Olympics.

A leading member of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) council has offered to change her vote in favour of windsurfing at the annual meeting in November.

As the ruckus gathers pace over the ISAF decision by a two-vote margin to replace windsurfing with kiteboarding for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Canadian Fiona Kidd, the chairwoman of the 58-strong ISAF women's forum, has admitted she changed her vote between two important meetings.

At the ISAF events committee vote, she plumped for windsurfing. However, when the full council met and it was decided to push for a definitive vote, she switched to vote for the kites.

Had Kidd stuck to her original vote, there would have been an 18-all deadlock, which might have heldoff the vote until the November meeting in Ireland.

In a letter, Kidd wrote she was persuaded by the arguments at the council meeting, saw it as a chance to bring more women into sailing, and noted that earlier decisions on costly equipment for two other new classes - the women's skiff and mixed multihull - had effectively ruled out emerging nations.

It is understood Kidd did not have a recommendation from the women's forum and therefore was free to vote as she chose.

"I apologise to all of you if I have not represented the best interests of women in sailing," Kidd has written to forum members. "Personally I was very torn. I am certainly willing to change my vote in support of the RS:X [windsurfers] for the November meeting if that is the will of the forum."

In November, windsurfing has a chance to restate its case. However, it's understood it must win 75 per cent of the council vote to regain its place. That would be at the expense of kiteboarding, rather than alongside its fellow boardsport.

Kidd also revealed that the council had asked ISAF president Swede Goran Petersson to approach the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to check whether two more medals might be available to the regatta in Rio, once it became clear the rival board disciplines "did not want to put one up against the other".

Petersson, who is an IOC member and "currently has some influence", Kidd wrote, refused as he doubted he would be successful.

Had the vote been delayed until November "we would all have more information ... to make a decision".

Spain, Venezuela and Israel have already voiced anger at the process used by the ISAF, which is facing accusations of acting precipitately, catching the sport offguard in taking the vote which tossed windsurfing out.

- NZ Herald

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