A major row over Olympic Games sailing is the inevitable consequence of a decision to throw windsurfers out of the 2016 line-up and replace it with kiteboarding.
Windsurfers , seen on beaches and lakes around the world, have been in the Olympics since 1984. Britain’s Nick Dempsey, a former world champion, was fourth at the China games four years ago and is strongly tipped to win a medal in Weymouth. Bryony Shaw is the reigning Olympic bronze medallist.
Kitesurfing as a racing event is still developing a comprehensive world programme, but it has been selected by the council of the world governing body, the International Sailing Federation, to take medal places for both men and women’s divisions in Rio de Janeiro.
At its mid-year meeting in Stresa, Italy, the council took the opportunity to correct a previous blunder, restoring a catamaran class for 2016, plumping for the Nacra 17. It has also thrown out the women's match racing event and replaced it with a women's high performance skiff event, choosing the 49erFX.
“These announcements mark a new era for sailing,” said ISAF president Göran Petersson, whose second four-year term ends in November, when he will join the International Olympic Committee. “Kiteboarding has proven to us that it is ready to be included in the list of ISAF events and is a fantastic addition to the sailing programme for the 2016 games.”
The final 1,000 miles of the sixth leg of the Volvo round the world race from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami is proving a cat and mouse game for the top trio of Kenny Read’s Puma, Chris Nicholson at the helm of the New Zealand-managed Spanish entry Camper, and the overall leader, also from Spain, Iker Martinez’ Telefonica.
"It is," said Read, "a serious game of roulette."
Sixty miles behind them the chasing pair of Franck Cammas in Groupama and Ian Walker, skipper of Abu Dhabi’s Azzam are just four miles apart.