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Here are the top stories of the year 2018 from our blog. This is by no means a comprehensive review of the year 2018 – in part because a number of events are only discussed in our Facebook Group and not in our blog. Yet the year 2018 was clearly marked by controversies surrounding Olympic sailing and their direct implications for youth sailing.
With lots of action and substantial regatta participation in classes such as the Optimist, the Open Bic, the 4.7, the Radial and the 29er, youth sailing is not on the decline. Record participation level in events such as the Optimist Garda meeting, with some 1,300 sailors, shows that (conventional) youth sailing is still progressing, despite the rise of much faster platforms such as kiteboarding.
Yet, the controversies arising from the selection of equipments and events for the 2024 Olympics have shed a huge cloud over competitive dinghy sailing. First, light weight female sailors will continue to have very few participation options, despite the intention of several countries to introduce a new equipment for those many female athletes being too light for the Laser Radial. And with the 470 to become mixed in 2024, there will be even fewer options for those light weight female sailors.
And then we have of course the huge issue of those many male sailors too heavy for the Laser Standard, who are now denied – subject to the outcome of likely arbitration/litigation – any realistic Olympic pathway. Many youth Finn sailors are reported to sell their boats, and will probably opt for another sport.
What could have remained a technical, and solvable, issue of sailor weight and equipment has unfortunately become a major governance issue of the sport of sailing. The contentious Sarasota vote, discarding the Finn, and the even more contentious approval of the minutes of this meeting, despite irregularities, by a relatively small majority of the member national authorities, is damaging the credibility and trustworthiness of World Sailing as the governing body of the sport.