Windsurfing voted back in for Rio 2016
Six months of lobbying by the international windsurfing community has paid off with the reinstatement this morning (NZT) of the RS:X class at the expense of kiteboarding for the Rio Olympics.
The controversial decision in May by ISAF (the international sailing federation) to drop windsurfing in favour of the then untested kiteboarding stunned the sailing world but the decision has been reversed by the narrowest of margins at ISAF's AGM in Dublin, Ireland, today.
As reported last week there were two ways the decision could be overturned, at council level or the higher general assembly.
Windsurfers needed a 75 per cent majority at council level yesterday to re-open the decision but never got it, falling short at 68 per cent.
However, a motion was made to assess the controversial saga at today's general assembly, with a simple majority all that was required.
Windsurfing got there and will continue its presence at the Olympics, which dates back to 1984.
Unlike the council, where members represented areas or confederations and some, like Oceania's New Zealand delegate Ralph Roberts, were instructed to vote in line with their area's wishes (the majority of Oceania nations preferred kiteboarding), the vote at general assembly level was made by representatives of the individual national authorities.
Yachting New Zealand has consistently made no secret of its preference for windsurfing to remain at the Rio Olympics in 2016, with kiteboarding to be given more time to develop and possibly looked at for 2020.
It made a formal submission along those lines in July and publicly reaffirmed its view last week.
It has got its wish, with the national authority members voting against the council members.
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 apologised for voting for kitesurfing in the first place and others, like Spain, claimed they had been confused by the process.
Before the AGM, both YNZ chief executive David Abercrombie and windsurfing great Barbara Kendall said they believed windsurfing would fall short of the 75 per cent required at council level but the decision had a great chance of being overturned at the general assembly.
That's what transpired.
New Zealand was represented in the RS:X class at the London Olympics by world championship bronze medallist JP Tobin, who finished seventh and said he would consider a crack at Rio, despite being 39 in 2016, if it was reinstated.
Tom Ashley, who was nudged out by Tobin for New Zealand's sole spot at Weymouth, won Olympic gold in the RS:X class in Beijing four years ago.
Sailing classes for the 2016 Olympics:
Men's Board -RS:X
Women's Board - RS:X
Men's One Person Dinghy - Laser
Women's One Person Dinghy - Laser Radial
Men's second One Person Dinghy - Finn
Men's Skiff - 49er
Women's Skiff - 49erFX
Men's Two Person Dinghy - 470
Women's Two Person Dinghy - 470
Mixed Two Person Multihull - Nacra 17