World Sailing is clearly in trouble after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has asked it to propose alternative events to the mixed offshore at Paris 2024 after uncovering concerns with the discipline. Why does not IOC like the offshore keelboat? The answer is quite simple: the boat, the much discussed L30 chosen by World Sailing, which costs over 100 thousand euros to be rigged, does not guarantee the widest possible access to the athletes, without forgetting that the current pandemic makes sponsorships very difficult to find. The media coverage of the event would then be very expensive, given that it would be necessary to follow the boats in offshore tests that would last even more than 48 hours offshore. Plus, the class has never developed a truly solid circuit. Only a small number of boats were present at the events so far staged, one of which was the European Championship in Genoa. Too little to talk about Olympics.
After all, Olympic sailing is for young athletes, and not for rich fifties who would like to say “I did the Olympics too”. There is a time, and a place, for everything, and the Olympics has always been the ultimate expression of athleticism and technique reserved for the best athletes in the world. The mixed offshore class therefore has seen its Olympic history go down even before the start. What happens now? The IOC’s invitation is to make a different proposal but it is not yet clear what World Sailing will propose.
In an increasingly foil-oriented sailing world, a solution of this kind might be successful. Classes like Waszp and Moth have a solid experience, although the latter should revise and update its equipment. These boats still have a reasonable cost, no more expensive than others that are already Olympic classes such as the Nacra 17 or the 49er. The Italian Sailing Federation in the meantime, has purchased two Waszp to be included in the foil project that FIV wants to carry out. A concrete step towards a process of opening up to the new growing sailing.
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