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Windsurfing survives Rio eviction scare

12 November 2012

SAILING: The International Sailing Federation has done a complete 360 on its decision to scrap windsurfing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In May the ISAF council decided to ditch the discipline in favour of an edgier event- kiteboarding.

The decision was reaffirmed in a vote on Friday when the ISAF decided not to revisit the controversy. But by Saturday the ruling was overturned once and for all.

The ISAF General Assembly voted in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland in favour of reinstating windsurfing by a slim 51.6 per cent margin.

This means that windsurfing will be contested at its ninth straight summer Games for men, and sixth straight Games for women in 2016.

Australia has a formidable history in the event through Jessica Crisp who has competed in windsurfing at every Olympic Games since Sydney 2000. Crisp, who was 43 in London, also competed at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics as a 14-year-old when windsurfing was a demonstration event.

In other good news for Australia, the three Olympic events won by our men in London- men's laser, men's 49er and men's 470- also remain on the Rio program.

Unfortunately the plight of women's match racing at the Olympics has been short lived. On debut in London, Aussie trio Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty won silver in the event that sees boats go head to head in a series of races, but it has been removed from the 2016 event list.

Like London, ten gold medals will be on offer on the waters of Rio. The other events to be contested in Rio are women's laser radial, men's fin, women's 49erFX, women's 470 and the new Nacra 17 mixed multihill.

Also in Ireland last week Brit Ben Ainslie won the ISAF World Sailor of the Year Award.

While the Australian contingent may not have taken home the award, to have three of the five finalists was recognition of a great year for Australian sailing. Tom Slingsby (laser), Mathew Belcher & Malcolm Page (470) and Iain Jensen & Nathan Outteridge (49er) all won Olympic gold, along with their respective 2011 and 2012 class World Championships and numerous ISAF Sailing World Cup rounds.

Australia was the best performing nation in sailing at the London Olympic Games and will build on that form heading to Rio 2016.

Taya Conomos

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