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Olympics sailing news regarding Paris 2024 and Tokyo 2020

by David Schmidt 21 May 16:00 BST May 21, 2019
Caleb Paine on day 3 of Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar © Robert Deaves

While the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are still a solid 14 months beyond the horizon, the wheels are already turning for the Paris 2024 Olympics, with equipment selection currently dominating the Olympic sailing news cycle. World Sailing's Council gathered in London over the weekend for their mid-year meeting to discuss concerns and vote. On Sunday, May 19, World Sailing announced that the "Laser" was selected as the Men's and Women's One Person Dinghy, while the IKA Formula Kite was selected for the Mixed Kiteboard equipment, and the 470 was chosen as the Mixed Two Person Dinghy. Interestingly, the board rejected the RS:X as the Men's and Women's Windsurf Equipment, meaning that a new proposal for different equipment is now necessary.

Careful readers will note the use of quotation makers around the "Laser", as it was revealed on April 25 that the class has officially changed its name to the "ILCA Dinghy" following a multi-year impasse between the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) and the class' European builder, LaserPerformance.

"It's a big change for a racing class that hasn't seen anything like this in our almost 50-year history," said Tracy Usher, the ILCA's president, in an official ILCA press release on April 25. "Our staff and our network of stakeholders have been working tirelessly to ensure minimal disruption to ILCA members and class racers in all regions of the globe."

It's unclear as to how and if this name change will reflect on or impact the Men's and Women's One Person Dinghy for the Paris 2024 Olympics, but it is clear that the "Laser/ILCA Dinghy" is popular amongst World Sailing's Council, which was tasked with selecting between the "ILCA/Laser", the RS Aero, the D-Zero and the Melges 14. Ultimately, 36 Council members voted for the "ILCA/Laser" and five voted for the RS Aero, while the D-Zero and the Mel>!-- -->ges 14 both received zero votes, however there was one abstention.

The Council's votes on the Mixed Kiteboard and Mixed Two Person Dinghy equipment were less contentious. With regard to the former, 40 members voted to approve the recommendation for the Mixed Kiteboard, while one member abstained and one voted against; in the Mixed Two Person Dinghy vote, 41 members voted to accept whilst a single member rejected the proposal.

Things became more interesting with the RS:X vote, as 19 members voted to accept the windsurfer design, while 23 voted to reject the recommendation. This means that the Board of Directors will now have to propose different equipment to the Council, which will vote again this year (before December 31, 2019, as per regulations).

So, while things are now clarified for sailors interested in competing in the Mixed Kiteboard and Mixed Two Person Dinghy classes at the Paris 2024 Olympics, questions still remain for Men's and Women's One Person Dinghy and Windsurfer sailors.

As for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the American-flagged squad got some welcome clarification this past weekend when Finn sailor Caleb Paine, who claimed a Bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics in this same class, earned an eleventh place finish at the 2019 Finn European Championships, which were contested on the waters off of Athens, Greece. Critically, this strong finish qualified the USA in the One Person (Heavyweight) Dinghy for the Tokyo Games.

While this is great news for the USA, Paine will still need to earn his own berth to Tokyo by beating out rivals Luke Muller and Eric Anderson (amongst other possible threats). These sailors finished in 41st and 60th places, respectively at the recently concluded Finn Europeans, however Paine can still expect some hard work that could start as early as this summer's Olympic Test Event, which will be held on the waters off of Enoshima, Japan (August 15-22).

Additionally, the USA has now also qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the Men's Laser, the Men's 470 and the Women's Laser Radial events.

Looking to our neighbor to the north, Canadian Finn sailor Tom Ramshaw earned Canada's country qualification for the One Person (Heavyweight) Dinghy for the Tokyo Games at the 2018 Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus. Additionally, Canadian Laser Radial sailor Sarah Douglas proudly qualified Canada for this class as well.

Sail World wishes all prospective Olympic sailors the best of luck as they prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and, much longer-term, the Paris 2024 Olympics.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt North American Editor

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