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Paris2024: Sir Ben Ainslie calls for Olympic regatta revamp

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz 13 Jul 11:22 BST 13 July 2019
Ben Ainslie just after winning his fifth Olympic medal and fourth Gold medal at the 2012 Olympics © Richard Gladwell

Sir Ben Ainslie, winner of five Olympic medals, four of them Gold, believes the Olympic Sailing Regatta needs a radical overhaul.

Best known for his exploits in the Finn singlehander, Ainslie is disappointed to see the class which has epitomised the classical values of Olympic sailing, dropped from the proposed Events slate for Paris 2024.

It is proposed to replace the Men's Heavyweight One Person Dinghy event, with a new Mixed[Gender] Two-Person Offshore Keelboat - an event which will hold its first world championship in 2020.

"I think it is a great shame. I'm obviously biased and a huge fan of the Finn. But to me, the bigger issue is "What do guys over 85kg sail?"

"Right now, I can't see too many opportunities for them."

"There are a lot of boats out there for guys weighing 65, 75 and 80kgs," he says. "The Giles Scott's of this world - what are they supposed to do?" he asked referring to the 2016 Gold Medalist in the Finn, who was his tactician in the 2017 America's Cup and will fill the same role in 2021 for INEOS Team UK.

The average crew weight for the 2021 America's Cup has been set at 90kg - well outside the optimum body weight for the proposed classes for the 2024 Olympic Sailing Regatta.

"That is my biggest concern. I haven't been involved in any of the decisions or discussions. I'm just observing from the outside," he adds.

As to whether World Sailing should reconsider its proposed Events slate for Paris2024, Ainslie wouldn't comment.

However, he does have some strong views on the shape of the Sailing Olympics.

"Ultimately World Sailing and Olympic sailing have got some tough decisions to make", he said at the conclusion of an interview on INEOS Team UK's America's Cup campaign.

"There are probably too many competitors for the profile of the sport, along with the cost of running those competitors," he said.

"In reality, you have to reduce the numbers. That's looking at it from the perspective of an outsider, but with experience of being to the Olympics for Sailing."

"There has to be a reduction in the number of classes and a focus on really top quality classes that offer the most challenge for the sailors."

In the Ainslie-style Olympic Sailing Olympic Regatta, he would put the focus on having a more balanced event slate.

"There has to be a range of sailors in terms of the weight scale, which is important. So you are creating a proper test across the board."

That view would run counter to the International Olympic Committee's stricture to remove weight divisions where possible, but Ainslie's solution would make for a more balanced Olympics.