ISAF confirms removal of events for 2016 games

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The Independent Online

Two potential British Olympic medal winners in 2012 were given final notice in St. Petersburg today that their events would be chopped from the 2016 games in Brazil.

Reigning gold medallists Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson heard the sport’s world governing body, the International Sailing Federation vote to uphold the removal of the Star keelboat – which has been an ever-present since 1932 – and the women’s trio of the Macgregor sisters and Annie Lush now know that the 6m keelboat used for match racing will also be dropped.

The ISAF council has left open the possibility of replacing the windsurfer class with kiteboarders – seen by some as having only a tenuous link to sailing but thought to be an exciting spectacle – but it has maintained the opportunities for women by introducing a high performance skiff for women and making the re-introduction of the catamaran class eligible for mixed crews.

So they have reduced the number of women athletes in the 10 events by three and then restored them by three.

The long-standing 470 dinghy has hung on with both men’s and women’s divisions, and the hugely popular Laser singlehanded dinghy remains for both men and women.

Less decisive is the position on the America’s Cup front. Although the organisers announced there were 14 potential challengers plus the defender, the San Francisco-based Oracle, the deadline of 30 April for deposits to be paid and new AC45 catamarans ordered for the first world series regattas starting in August, has gone by with no definitive list being announced.

It appears that neither of the French teams will make it, nor the Canadians, and the Koreans look less than secure. Nothing has been heard from Australia and the Argo challenge by a disabled team has said it will not compete in 2013.

The Swedish team, Artemis, looks certain, as are the New Zealanders, helped by NZ$36m. from the taxpayer, and the Chinese, also thought to have government backing, have been taking part in a trial event in Auckland.

The ceo of America’s Cup Race Management, Iain Murray, says he is confident that all 10 of the 45-foot catamarans being built in the first run will be sold by August and is hopeful that the remainder of the 2011-12 series dates and venues will be announced by mid-May.

The first three are in Portugal in August, Plymouth in September and San Diego in November. There should then be four or five more. The second series will start in San Francisco in the new AC72-foot wing-powered catamarans, the boat designated for the Cup itself in 2013.