New classes for Olympics

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The Independent Online

Pressure from Britain and other developed nations paid off in Hamburg yesterday when the International Yacht Racing Union voted for a shake- up to the events for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney by including a new high performance, sports boat class, writes Stuart Alexander.

There had been pessimism that a mixture of conservatism from some die- hard lobbyists and apprehension among the poorer nations would scupper the introduction of a new class in which Britain will also be pressing, when the actual boats are chosen next year, for the home-grown Laser 5000 to provide the excitement factor seen as so important for television.

The IYRU is restricted to 10 events and these include men's and women's boards, singlehanders and double-handed dinghies. In addition there will be a multihull, with the 16 foot Hobie catamaran determined to oust the Tornado, the new sportsboat, a fleet keelboat and a match racing event, which will be the final of a world-wide qualifier. At the moment the three-man Soling is used for match-racing, the top six qualifying from fleet races, and there is also the two-person Star keelboat.

With three single-handers in competition for the slots and the Europe almost certain to continue for the women, the competition will be between the Laser, open to both men and women but expected to be contested almost exclusively by men at the Olympics, and the specifically men's Finn.