David Leggat on sport

David Leggat is a Herald sport writer

David Leggat: Kiteboarders back at square one

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Right decision maybe but ineptly handled.

Windsurfers are jubilant but their international association should not fail to take heed of a desperately close call. Photo / NZPA
Windsurfers are jubilant but their international association should not fail to take heed of a desperately close call. Photo / NZPA

So windsurfing has won a reprieve and will be on the 2016 Rio Olympic sailing programme, while kiteboarding is left to wonder what they did wrong.

Answer: nothing.

Both fought their corners, one more impressively earlier in the year, the other spiritedly in the last few months. There is one body at whom they can unite and direct their combined derision, and that's the International Sailing Federation.

Last May, ISAF surprised the entire board sports fraternity by voting in kiteboarding at the expense of the RS:X windsurfing for Rio, after the boardsailors had been on the Olympic programme since 1984 (for men, 1992 for women). Loud and persistent was the condemnation from the windsurfers; the kiteboarders, who had pressed a strong case, were understandably delighted.

Now the situation has been reversed, courtesy of the ISAF annual conference in Dublin, but only just.

ISAF deemed that 75 per cent of the conference had to vote in favour of revisiting the May vote. Only 68.1 per cent did, so ISAF cosily presumed that would be the end of it.

However windsurfing tabled a move at the general assembly later in the week. It got over the line with 51.3 per cent. Black eyes all around the ISAF top table.

Its president, Goran Petersson, oversaw the mid-year shambles when delegates claimed they weren't aware of the finality of the vote, or precisely what they were voting for. He is off to put his feet underneath the International Olympic Committee table. The ISAF leadership has passed to Italian Carlo Croce.

Windsurfers are jubilant, but their international association will be derelict in their responsibilities if they fail to take heed of a desperately close call. They were perceived as having taken their place on the Olympic programme somewhat for granted. The upstart kiteboarders had played a strong hand. Windsurfing received a serious shot across the bow.

There was a call for kites to be included on the World Cup circuit from next year, with a view to stepping up, perhaps for the 2020 Olympics, or at least be brought closer to the bosom of the sailing family. They didn't even get that. They're back where they started. Maybe the right Rio decision was arrived at in the end, but no thanks to a clumsy, inept governing body.

- NZ Herald

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