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27 May 2004, 08:00 pm
Selection Of Equipment
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2008 Olympic Sailing Competition

Every Olympic quadrennial, ISAF reviews both the events and the equipment for the forthcoming Olympic Sailing Competition.
This selection and decision making process is an onerous task, and one which by its very nature will cause much debate and heated opinion. However, ISAF is a democracy and whilst it is not possible to satisfy all concerned, the interests of the sport as a whole are the main objective in making the decision. By the very nature of the sport and differences around the 113 ISAF Member National Authorities, the decision will heralded by many and not favoured by others.

So as not to have too many issues up for debate at the same time, ISAF considers the events and equipment in two stages. The events (ie single-handed dinghy open) are debated at the ISAF November Conference five years prior to the Olympic Sailing Competition at which the events will be contested, therefore in November 2003. The equipment (ie Laser) is considered four years prior to the Olympics at which it will be used, effectively the November after the preceding Olympic Sailing Competition, which for the 2008 Olympic Games means November 2004.

In November 2003, ISAF decided the eleven events which will be sailed at the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition, Quingdao, Beijing, China as:

- Men's windsurfing
- Women's windsurfing
- Men's single-handed dinghy
- Open single-handed dinghy
- Women's single-handed dinghy
- Men's double-handed dinghy
- Open double-handed dinghy
- Women's double-handed dinghy
- Men's keelboat
- Women's keelboat
- Open Multihull

The schedule of events is certainly the easiest part of the events/equipment process, and 2008 will see no change from the event line-up for the 2004 Olympic Sailing Competition.

The selection of the equipment is also taken in a two-stage process, with the list of possible equipment being considered at the 2004 ISAF Mid-Year Meetings, for a final decision in November 2004. Essentially this means that at the forthcoming 2004 ISAF Mid-Year Meeting, the ISAF Council will consider all the equipment which has been put forward and may choose to shortlist suitable equipment for consideration in November 2004, rather than go forwards with the entire slate of 25 classes (equipment) which has been proposed.

Complying with the 15 March 2004 deadline, a total of 25 classes across the 11 events have been put forwards for consideration as equipment for the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition. Some of the equipment has been submitted for more than one of the events, and could be considered to have more than one chance at selection. It will be the ISAF Events Committee who has the task of carving out the process by which the equipment will be determined.

Detailed below are the eleven events and equipment which has been proposed for each event.

2008 Olympic Event Equipment (Classes) Submitted for 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition (detailed in alphabetical order) Current Olympic Equipment - as being used in 2004
Men's windsurfing `Hybrid' Board, Mistral - plus all equipment participating at Olympic Equipment Evaluation Event, being Boards & Less Canada Society, Boards & More - Mistral One Design, Boards & More - Olympic Design, Boards & More - Mistral Prodigy, Flying Fish - Exocet, Gaastra Sails, Neil Pryde Formula, PD Project, Starboard - Z Class Mistral One-Design
Women's windsurfing `Hybrid' Board, Mistral - plus all equipment participating at Olympic Equipment Evaluation Event, being Boards & Less Canada Society, Boards & More - Mistral One Design, Boards & More - Olympic Design, Boards & More - Mistral Prodigy, Flying Fish - Exocet, Gaastra Sails, Neil Pryde Formula, PD Project, Starboard - Z Class Mistral One-Design
Men's single-handed dinghy Finn, Laser Finn
Open single-handed dinghy Finn, Laser Laser
Women's single-handed dinghy Byte, Europe, Flash, Laser Radial, Zoom Europe
Men's double-handed dinghy 49er, 470, Snipe 470
Open double-handed dinghy 49er, 49er
Women's double-handed dinghy 49er, 470, Snipe 470
Men's keelboat Soling, Star, Yngling Star
Women's keelboat Soling, Yngling Yngling
Open Multihull Hobie 16, Tornado Tornado

There is considerable interest in the Single-Handed Dinghy Women event, with 5 classes challenging for the slot which has been held by the Europe Class since its selection in 1998 for use at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. Whilst many of the developing sailing nations would favour a more "out of the box" approach to keep costs to a minimum and emphasis on the individual sailor's skill, others prefer the more technical specification and related challenges of the Europe dinghy.

In respect of the Windsurfing Event, the recently concluded ISAF Olympic Windsurfing Equipment Evaluation Event assessed and evaluated all the boards in a range of conditions and by a cross-section of sailors. The report of the Evaluation Team will be made at the 2004 Mid-Year Meeting, in which they will make their recommendation on the equipment to be selected for both the men's and women's events.

The Soling keelboat which lost its Olympic status after the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, is seeking selection for both the men's and women's keelboat events.

For Classes who are on the slate of equipment, their application first had to be submitted to ISAF by the deadline of 15 March 2004. Confirming their intention to be considered for the Olympics, all equipment was required to sign a contract with ISAF, known as the Olympic Contract. The Olympic Contract sets out the requirements of Olympic selection, including issues such as Joint Obligations, Measurement and Builders, International Class Status and Class Rules, Olympic Qualification, World and Continental Championship Events, ISAF World Sailing Rankings, Price Stability and Product Quality.

Linked to this requirement, it should be noted that the Mexican Sailing Federation proposed the Hobie 16 for the Multihull Open event. However the Hobie 16 Class Association does not feel it appropriate to compete against the Tornado and therefore has not signed the Olympic Contract, and thus will not be eligible for consideration.

When it comes to the criteria which ISAF will use to select the equipment, there are some guiding principles set down in the ISAF Regulations, which will lead the process, as follows:

- Must allow athletes around the world, male, female and of different size and weight, to participate;

- Must achieve the current IOC objective of the minimum level of participation for women;

- Must give the best sailors in each country the opportunity to participate in readily accessible equipment;

- Must combine both traditional and modern events and classes, to reflect, display and promote competitive sailing.

With a desire to put a clearer criteria on the selection of equipment for the men's, women's and open dinghy events, in November 2003 the ISAF Events Committee (who holds the responsibility of recommending to the ISAF Council the events and equipment), proposed the characteristics that will be used as guidelines for these events as follows:

Men's and Women's Dinghy Events
Universally available equipment
Sailed worldwide
Suitable for average physique
Technically simple, or out-of-the-box

Open Dinghy Events
Innovative: design; technology; format of racing; courses
Added media appeal
"Buzz" for young and established sailor
Fast and athletic

In addition a further paper, which the Events Committee will consider at their forthcoming meeting in June, has been proposed which, consistent with the selection criteria above for Men's and Women's dinghy equipment for 2008, proposes the basis for evaluation of Olympic Equipment across all Events.

The Events Committee will meet on 4 June 2004 in San Diego, USA and under the chairmanship of Bjorn UNGER will have the responsibility to consider the equipment and ensure the recommendation they make to the ISAF Council (final decision making body of ISAF) reflects the best interests of the sport, with the final decision to be made on 12-13 November 2004.

The submissions on the Equipment for the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition can be found on the 2004 Mid-Year Meeting web pages at;

For details of the equipment entered in the Olympic Windsurfing Equipment Evaluation Event, Click Here

A full report on discussions at the 2004 ISAF Mid-Year Meeting will be published on the ISAF website.
ISAF Secretariat
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