In a packed room at the Marriott hotel here in Copenhagen, the ISAF Council has voted on the equipment to be used in the 2008 Olympic Sailing Regatta in Qingdao.
Most classes remained as used earlier this year in Athens but the major opportunities for change were in the two windsurfing events and the single-handed women.
Recommendations from the committees, who met earlier in the week, were looked at in numerical order.
Selection of the Olympic classes for 2008 was reserved for a period before lunchtime. ISAF President Paul HENDERSON brought to the table a motion that proposed voting for the eight non-contentious classes to be voted as a block, followed by debate and selection of the remaining two events, namely windsurfing and the single-handed dinghy women.
These eight classes were agreed on immediately and shall remain as follows for the 2008 Olympic Games:
1. Multihull Open: Tornado
2. Keelboat Women: Yngling
3. Keelboat Men: Star
4. Double-handed Dinghy Open: 49er
5. Double-handed Dinghy Women: 470
6. Double-handed Dinghy Men: 470
7. Single-handed Dinghy Open: Finn
8. Single-handed Dinghy Men: Laser
The event titles for these events are scheduled to be reviewed in 2005, to fit within the more usual event definitions used across the other sports on the Olympic programme, ie doubles men, singles women
Discussion then moved towards the windsurfing event, for which two options were brought to the table: The Mistral One-design and the Neil Pryde RS:X. The Neil Pryde RS:X was the recommended board by the ISAF Windsurfing Equipment evaluation panel and was also recommended by the Events, Women's Sailing and Executive Committees earlier in the week.
Rich JEFFRIES, chairman of the evaluation panel, was invited to answer questions from the Council and it was clarified that the Neil Pryde RS:X board was being proposed with one sail. The President also clarified that the building of the new board would be handled solely by Cobra in Thailand and distribution would be handled via six worldwide distribution centres.
After debate that revolved around the clarification to MNA's that ISAF would have a high level of control over the pricing and level of availablility of the board, as well as reassurance over the class contract, which will be negotiated by the Executive Committee and the board manufacturers, Council voted 26:12 in favour of the Neil Pryde RS:X board.
Following a short break for lunch, the tougher decision of choosing the Single-handed Dinghy Women got underway. Initially discussion was all about the ostensible facts that the ideal weight range for the laser radial was heavier than that required for the Europe.
Following this discussion, it was highlighted that if the aim of the Federation was to increase the participation of emerging nations in the Olympic games by right, then the availablilty of the Laser Radial in these nations was a huge boost to achieving that goal. Cory SERTL (USA), in supporting the Laser Radial represented the point of view of the Women's Sailing Committee and noted that coming from an established nation, she acknowledges that sailors at the top level automatically gravitate towards whatever is selected, and that 'ISAF is making this decision for the sailors around the world who haven't had the opportunity to participate in the Olympics. We are doing this for the best of the sport.'
Quanhai Li (CHN), representing the Beijing Olympic Committee spoke extensively about the regatta organization and facilities proposed for the Olympic Games in quingdao. In highlighting the work currently being done in Asia, he spoke of the support for the Europe class. His view was shared by Teo Ping LOW (SIN).
There then proceeded a motion proposed by Ken RYAN (IRL) that the remaining three classes that were brought to the table not be considered any further and after a unanimous vote the Europe and the Laser Radial were voted for. The Result - 24-12 in favour of the Laser Radial, with two abstentions. The sport will now look forward to a new Olympic Class at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Paul HENDERSON paid tribute to the Europe Class. 'I am sorry to see the Europe leave. The Class has been a great supporter.'
The meeting is continuing in Copenhagen and this report will be updated on conclusion of the Council meetings will all the other important decisions of the day.