Branson leads the kitesurfers' revolt as Olympic chiefs reverse course to leave sport out of Rio

Sailing's governing body reverses decision to replace windsurfing after international outcry

Olympic windsurfers who have spent six months retraining as kitesurfers for the 2016 Olympics must abandon their progress after the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) voted to reverse its decision to swap sails for kites.

The ISAF decided to retain men's and women's windsurfing at the governing body's annual general meeting in Dublin, reversing the organisation's previous move to drop the discipline in favour of kitesurfing for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in four years.

Sir Richard Branson, who propelled himself on to the surfing scene after becoming the oldest man to kitesurf across the English Channel, said it was a "sad day for one of the best entertainment sports in the world".

"It is a huge disappointment for all kitesurfers worldwide who have been training hard since it was announced it was going to be in the Rio Olympics," he said. "What a shame, too, for all the windsurfers who spent the last year training to become kitesurfers."

In May, the ISAF described the new sport as a "fantastic addition" to the Olympic schedule, but has since faced pressure from windsurfing federations that vowed to have sailing chiefs reinstate the discipline.

A representative of the British Kitesurfing Association (BKSA) said: "Obviously we're disappointed but we understand there was a lot of pressure from the windsurfing community, especially within those nations that previously voted in favour of the switch."

However, delegates of the ISAF's member states later blamed the move on confusion due to language difficulties rather than a considered change of heart.

Israel's sailing chief, Yehuda Mayan, revealed that, in voting for kiteboarding, delegates had probably been confused by ambiguous language translations. And the Spanish Sailing Federation has since acknowledged that its representative voted for kiteboarding by mistake.

The ISAF ultimately reported that with 38 votes available, the 75 per cent requirement was not achieved on either of the proposals to ratify the decision to introduce kitesurfing.

"It seems a shame given so many windsurfers had invested the time into making the transition to kitesurfing," the BKSA representative said.

"To be honest, it was strange to make the decision to take windsurfing out in the first place. They are both forms of sailing that are far more accessible than others. They are both more appealing to young people.

"We believe it was the right decision to put kitesurfing into the Games, and perhaps this will make windsurfing reassess its position."

The Royal Yachting Association was among those campaigning for the reinstatement of windsurfing and its performance director, John Derbyshire, said: "We have a very strong youth pathway and some 10,000 windsurfing members, so on their behalf we are delighted with the decision. We obviously have great compassion towards the kitesurfing community, with whom we have been working very closely."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there