After the World Sailing 2019 Mid-Year meeting the RS:X Class addressed the following letter on June 18th, 2019 to the World Sailing Council members and to the Member National Authorities (MNAs).
Since the World Sailing Mid-Year conference in London, England, and the publishing of the NEW “Re-evaluation Board Recommendation to Council dated 11.06.2019”the RS:X Class would like to respond to comments made during the conference by providing facts which it is hoped will aid World Sailings deliberations for the future.
SURVEY (encl. below): A very important point is that the RS:X Class is not voiced by individuals at meetings, nor is it represented by any one country or any one sailors’ view. The RS:X Class has had 65 different countries represented at its events since Rio 2016 and it is not appropriate for one sailor or one country to speak on behalf of the whole class, this is their personal opinion only and is not the opinion of the whole RS:X Class or every sailor.
To provide World Sailing with accurate information, the RS:X Class have taken the initiative to survey as many of its sailors and coaches as possible to see what they want the future of windsurfing to look like. This is important for the class as these are the sailors that have paid and invested into the class and the sport with their time and money. This investment should be acknowledged and respected when making decisions.
The results of this survey highlight that there is a desire to change, but that to change for 2024 is too soon for most of the sailors, especially the smaller countries where their investments are much more important in terms of participation. The survey results show that more than 50% of the class do not want change and would like the RS:X to be the equipment for the Windsurfing events in 2024 with 60% of respondents preferring windsurfing in 2024 to be non-foiling. When asked what they would like for 2028, 55% said that this should be foiling windsurfing. The results of this survey are shown at the end of this letter.
The survey results support the view that change should happen but that it needs to be managed over a longer period of time to minimise the drop off effect on the sport. Both World Sailing and the RS:X Class have a responsibility towards the health and sustainability of the sport in the longer term. Managing a transitional change of equipment over two Olympic cycles allows for MNA’s and sailors to plan longer term, make the best use of their resources and to work with World Sailing over a longer period.
RISKS OF DROP OFF IN PARTECIPATION: When looking at this drop off effect, the decisions that World Sailing make have a significant impact on the wider sport, especially at the disciplines which are most accessible such as the Laser and RS:X. In 2010 and 2011 there were 394 boards and 451 boards sold by NeilPryde in those respective years. In 2012, following the decision of World Sailing to replace Windsurfing with Kiteboarding, there was a huge drop off in participation (evidenced by sales records and event numbers) such that the RS:X Class has struggled to get back to similar levels of participation.
LACK OF STABILITY:It is this lack of stability that is affecting both the RS:X Class and Windsurfing right now. Sailors are currently not buying equipment because they don’t know what their future looks like.
Also, the World Sailing Council were told that the RS:X Class was not growing and therefore this was a prominent reason for change. Since 2012, the whole windsurfing community has suffered from the decisions to exclude and then re-include windsurfing. To grow any element of a sport; a country, a sailor a national authority, needs confidence in the longevity of their investment. This is especially true when dealing with the “universality” of a class. Windsurfing has suffered by not knowing its future, both in terms of an event and equipment. This uncertainty has not permitted growth as a smaller country that would look to invest its precious resources, would not invest in the RS:X Class for such a limited time and without knowing the security of their investment.
2019 REGATTAS:However, at the recent European and Youth European Championships in Mallorca, Spain, the RS:X Class succeed to have 333 sailors from 41 countries and 6 continents. This is coupled with over 300 sailors at the Techno 293 World Championships in 2018 and highlights that the sport of windsurfing is still recovering and needs the support to continue to grow.
IMPACT ON CLASS ACTIVITY:Currently, sailors are not buying equipment because they don’t know what to invest in. The decisions of World Sailing at the Mid-Year meeting are an example of how difficult it is to promote the sport to new countries, initiate growth, when equipment is chopped and changed so regularly. Data from NeilPryde has shown that every time the World Sailing Council makes, or doesn’t make, a decision on windsurfing events and equipment, it effects the whole class and ripples wider into the sport of windsurfing.
TIMING FOR CHANGES:The RS:X Class do not wish to work against World Sailing, its members or the support of growth in windsurfing or the wider sport of sailing – it will remain committed to promoting all that is great within sailing. But the sport needs stability through thoughtful decision making which is based on facts not emotion. The RS:X Class request that it is supported in managing the change through to 2028 for the betterment of World Sailing, its MNAs and windsurfers throughout the world.
The important criteria seems to be missing in the process described in the “Re-evaluation Board Recommendation to Council dated 11.06.2019” as well as the time table .
The RSX Class is fully aware of the magnitude of the challenge to launch a totally new class based on new equipment and meet the requirements of all the Olympic family in time to commence the qualification cycle and event program that culminates in a successful 2024 Olympic Regatta.
In our opinion based on what we know today, the only practical decision is to continue with the RSX for 2024 and transit to new equipment for 2028.
The RSX Class organization is the only Class structure which could today take on this project .
This letter is sent to the World Sailing Council members and the MNAs only as the RS:X Class feel that some members have spoken on behalf of the sport of windsurfing and the RS:X Class without appropriate consultation of the members.
Do not hesitate to contact us should you need any further clarification or documentation on the above from the International RS: X Class Association.
Carlo Dalla Vedova
President The International RS:X Class Association