* Language problems caused confusion for some voters
* Sailboards could become an unwanted item
By Ori Lewis
JERUSALEM, May 11 The International Sailing
Federation's (ISAF) decision to drop windsurfing from the
Olympics in favour of kiteboarding likely came about because
some delegates didn't realise what they were voting for,
Israel's sailing chief said on Friday.
"The delegates were probably confused or didn't understand
the motion fully because of language difficulties, or some may
have been napping at the presentations and then cast their votes
without realising the implications," Yehuda Maayan told Reuters.
Maayan's comments came as the Spanish Sailing Federation
admitted it had voted in error.
"The RFEV (federation) made a mistake in the vote between
kitesurf and windsurf as an Olympic sport for Rio 2016. Spain
supported and supports keeping windsurf (RS:X) in the 2016
Olympic Games," the federation said in a statement on their
"Despite all this, at the last moment the Spanish
representative in the ISAF Council voted in favour of kite, an
error caused by the confusion in the voting system of which the
federation president, Gerardo Pombo, takes full responsibility
and for which he asks forgiveness from all the Spanish
The ISAF was not immediately available for comment when
contacted by Reuters.
Windsurfing is one of Israel's most successful Olympic
sports, having yielded three out of its seven medals, including
its only gold, and a number of Israelis have featured highly at
world and European championships over the years.
Maayan, the chairman of the Israel Sailing Association, did
not attend the Melbourne meeting where the decision was made but
said it was surprising that the professional committee's clear
recommendation to keep the RS-X sailboard had been voted down.
DECISION PROMPTED JEERS
"The expert committee vote to retain the RS-X sailboard
passed 17-2, but ISAF's broader forum where many delegates do
not necessarily have an interest in windsurfing, rejected it
19-17," Maayan said.
The decision prompted jeers from leading athletes, but was
hailed by kiteboarders whose discipline will be showcased for
the first time at the Rio Games in 2016.
Maayan likened the move to judo competitors being told to
abandon their skills and compete as wrestlers.
"There is no comparison between sailboard and kiteboard,
it's a completely different discipline and requires very
different skills, it's like telling judokas: no more judo for
you, now you must be wrestlers."
Ben Finkelstein, coach of Israeli women's triple world
champion Lee Korzits, voiced concerns to Reuters in a telephone
interview about the cost implications of the switch.
"Professional surfers who decide to make the change will be
able to use their skills to adapt but I am much more worried
about all the clubs and the less expert, young surfers.
"It is a completely different discipline and if we want to
nurture competitors in the new discipline it will mean changing
the equipment and that will require a huge outlay," Finkelstein
said from the Olympic sailing site at Weymouth on England's
Maayan said for Israel, a country lacking major sports
funding and which highlights windsurfing as an important Olympic
discipline, the cost of replacing the equipment would be under
$1 million, although that was only part of the problem.
"Its hard to spend money when there is so little to go
around but add to the price of buying new equipment the cost of
training new coaches, it's a tough proposition," he said.
Worried that the ISAF decision would not be changed, Maayan
said he could foresee a situation soon when sailboards would be
an unwanted item.
"If kiteboarding is indeed adopted, all the Olympic
sailboards will be go up in smoke next bonfire night," he said.
(Additional reporting by Mark Elkington and Karolos Grohmann)