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Windsurfing dumped from Rio Olympics

7 May 2012

Australian sailing chiefs admit they are surprised by a decision to dump windsurfing from the 2016 Rio Olympics and replace it with the relatively new sport of kitesurfing.

Sailing's world governing body, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), announced the controversial decision on Sunday (AEST) after a mid-year executive meeting in Italy.

While it was known that the future of both disciplines was being considered, Australian sailing team high performance director Peter Conde had been expecting a change in 2020.

"I think many people will be surprised at having windsurfing out and kitesurfing in as of 2016," he told AAP.

"The guess of many people has been that kitesurfing would be evaluated a little bit longer and it would probably be a pretty damn good bet for 2020."

ISAF president Goran Petersson said kitesurfing, which began gaining prominence in the late 1990s, had a proven track record.

"It is a fantastic addition to the sailing program for the 2016 Olympic Games," he added.

ISAF began trialing the sport in late 2011 with a stated aim of including it at future sailing World Cup and world championship events.

Australia's Jessica Crisp helped windsurfing gain Olympic status almost 30 years ago.

She demonstrated the sport at the 1984 Los Angeles Games before going on to compete using the Mistral and RS:X windsurfing disciplines at three Olympics.

She finished fifth in Sydney and Beijing and sixth in Athens.

The London 2012 Games will be her fourth Olympics and now the last to feature windsurfing.

Conde said the lure of appearing at an Olympics could lead many young Australian windsurfers to switch to kitesurfing.

"Worldwide, kitesurfing is outgrowing windsurfing at a tremendous pace," he added.

"A lot of the people who used to take up windsurfing have taken up kitesurfing instead."

ISAF also confirmed decisions to introduce a women's 49er skiff competition at the 2016 Games, with women's match racing making way.

The Rio Olympics will also feature a mixed-gender Nacra17 catamaran competition.

AAP