YNZ's hands are tied over kitesurfing vote
Yachting New Zealand remain supportive of windsurfing being reinstated over kitesurfing for the 2016 Olympics but in an ironic twist to the controversial saga, the sole Kiwi representative on the ISAF Council will tick kitesurfing when the decisive vote is made in Ireland this month.
Kiwi windsurfing great Barbara Kendall says that makes the national body "look vulnerable", but YNZ chief executive David Abercrombie insists their hands are tied.
New Zealand is part of 'Area L', which consists of nine countries in the Pacific and has two representatives on the 24-member ISAF Council which will undertake the widely anticipated vote at the world sailing governing body's AGM in Dun Laoghaire, which starts tonight (NZT) and runs for 12 days.
Despite YNZ's staunch windsurfing stance, the majority of 'Area L' countries including Australia are in favour of kitesurfing as the board class of choice at the Olympics.
Therefore, the two representatives - one from Australia and one, Ralph Roberts, from New Zealand - will vote for kitesurfing under instruction.
In July, YNZ made an official submission in support of windsurfing, after the surprise 19-17 vote at ISAF's May meeting in Italy to include kitesurfing in place of windsurfing for the Rio Olympics.
New Zealand has a rich history in windsurfing; seven of the nation's 18 Olympic sailing medals have come in that class, and there has been vociferous support for its reinstatement around the world.
Some national bodies have apologised for voting for kitesurfing and others, like Spain, claim they were confused by the process.
Windsurfing will need a 75 per cent majority when the council takes the vote, in order to re-open the decision. Kendall and Abercrombie both agreed that is unlikely.
"There are too many council members who will vote for kiting and they'd lose face if they turn their vote around from May," Kendall said.
However, there is a second opportunity to re-open the decision at the general assembly at the end of the 12-day meeting.
In that case, a simple majority is all that would be required to re-open the vote and nations, rather than areas, would vote, so New Zealand would vote for windsurfing.
"If it comes down to the general assembly on November 10 when all the national authorities vote, it will probably go to windsurfing," Kendall said. "It's so not over. It's going to be a bun fight."
Abercrombie also agreed the result could be different if it goes to the general assembly.
"If the decision is re-opened, there will be another vote and it would be a straight majority required. There will be an awful lot of politicking going on, judging by all the emails I've had. I imagine it will be one of the busiest ISAF meetings outside of committee meetings in a long time."
Abercrombie said, for the council vote, they had no choice but to fall into line with the majority of the Oceania area.
"We don't have an option, constitutionally. I understand all the passion, but Area L is doing what they believe is best and we have to fall in line with that. We're only one vote out of nine countries."
Also, Kendall said ISAF had to seriously look at the process that's led to this situation.
"If ISAF had done due diligence and council members had been well informed, we wouldn't be in this situation. Most sports to get into the Olympic programme have to be tried and tested, but kitesurfing has jumped straight in."
- © Fairfax NZ News