"Windsurfing's position in the 2008 Olympics under threat!"

" ISAF President, Paul Henderson asks... Can ISAF continue to reserve 20% of the events and 25% of the competitors at the Olympic Regatta for Windsurfing and in particular can the women’s windsurfing event continue to be justified?"

 Dear ISAF Committee Member or MNA President,

Following a visit to the Pan Am Games, Paul Henderson has circulated an e-mail to his executive committee, which asks… Can ISAF continue to reserve 20% of the events and 25% of the competitors at the Olympic Regatta for Windsurfing and in particular can the women’s windsurfing event continue to be justified?


There can only be one answer to these questions… in each case an emphatic YES!

Here’s why


§         Windsurfing is a global sport practiced by large numbers of men and women;

§       The characteristics of windsurfing are sufficiently different from the other sailing events to justify two separate events;

§       Windsurfing is one of the most media friendly events in the Olympic Regatta;

Now, we know there are some sceptics amongst you. That's normal and healthy. So Let us give you three more good reasons why you too should say an emphatic YES:

Four more good reasons to support windsurfing in the Olympics

§       The women’s windsurfing event is the fastest, most dynamic and most media friendly of the women’s sailing events

§       Racers from all 5 continents have won Olympic windsurfing medals in the last two Games. In fact in 1996, medals went to six nations from 4 continents demonstrating that the sport is not only global in spread but also that no continent dominates this event

§       The IOC requires a minimum of 30% women athletes at the Olympics. In 2000, 28 nations entered a woman. A ratio of 66% to the number of men entered. At a world championship the normal ratio is 50% or higher.

§       Based on requests made by passengers on spectator boats at the Sydney Olympic Regatta, windsurfing was one of the top 3 regularly requested events to watch. 

Here is a summary of the benefits windsurfing brings to the Olympic Regatta

v       Windsurfing is sufficiently different from the other sailing events to justify two separate events

It broadens the mass appeal of sailing in the sport's highest profile regatta

v       Windsurfing is one of the most popular events in the Olympic Regatta

It has media appeal

v       Windsurfing is a global and relatively inexpensive sport

All nations can compete at a high level with a real chance of winning a medal

v       The two windsurfing events are fast, dynamic and media friendly. They therefore appeal to younger athletes

They keep the 'Olympic Sailing dream' alive, relevant & attractive to a much wider section of the population than most other classes

v       Windsurfing is a truly athletic discipline whatever the format

It is a true Olympic event requiring high levels of fitness, tactical ability and determination

v       The classes have submitted a proposed new Appendix B to ISAF after a thorough review

All racing formats can now be safely considered for inclusion in the 2008 Olympics

Now, you may be wondering what equipment could be selected for use in China in 2008. Well, that is very much up to the ISAF Evaluation Team to recommend and we would not wish to interfere with that process at all.

However, we do know that

At least 7 different boards are registered for ISAF Evaluation

v       Austrian Board Project have put one board forward named

Blip (with a centre board)

v       Bic Sport have put forward two boards

A Formula Windsurfing board (fin only)


A Techno 293 D (with a centre board)

v       Boards & More put two boards forward

A new technology One Design (an evolution of the current Olympic board)


A Prodigy (with a centre board)

v       Exocet have out forward one board named

Flying Fish (with a centre board)

v       Starboard have put forward one board

An Olympic prototype (probably with two fins; one fore and one aft)

v       Neil Pryde and Gaastra have also registered an interest. It is not clear whether they are just interested in rig development or whether they too will put forward boards for evaluation.

We are certain that at least one of these boards will prove suitable for selection in November 2004 as the Olympic Equipment for 2008.  However, The ISAF Windsurfing Evaluation Team Chairman will make a report to the 2003 ISAF November Conference, which we are confident will confirm this.
So to summarize!
v       The two current windsurfing events (men and women) in the Olympic regatta are valuable additions to the Olympic family

v       The ISAF Evaluation Team are more than likely to be able to recommend suitable equipment for use at the Olympic Regatta in 2008

We are sure that you are now convinced that you must help windsurfing retain its two sets of medals in the 2008 Olympic Regatta. However, do not take our word for it. Listen to some elite Formula racers whom you already know and respect. Incidentally, more than 1000 competitors from 35 countries and 5 continents have taken part in world, continental and international Formula Windsurfing events over the last 12 months!

Quotes from top Formula Racers

Steve Allen (AUS)
”No matter what style of windsurfing we have in the Olympics, it is absolutely necessary to have both Men AND Women. Windsurfing is one of the most exciting and skilled disciplines in the Games.”

Nik Baker (GBR)
”Windsurfing is by far the most exciting and colourful side of the Olympic water sports. There is such a wide spread of people who practice the sport, male and female that the whole sport would suffer as would the Olympics. Windsurfing is not only the fastest wind powered water sport but also the most agile and exciting to watch. Lets hope we can all stand together and get this sorted”

Steffan Beat
”It is very important to keep Windsurfing as an Olympic discipline, since it is worldwide an important sport to millions of people. Windsurfing is a well established sport which will fascinate all future
generations and therefore has to stay Olympic”

Pieter Bijl (NED)
Windsurfing (discipline Racing) on the highest level in the world requires not only power to win. It takes many different talents together like: sail trim, tactics, power, windsurfing skills, mental strength and the know how of meteorological. Combine all the talents in to one person (Man or Woman) and that is an Olympic windsurfer.

Because the windsurfer is the only crewmember on board he has to have all the skills of the crewmembers on board of one boat in any other sailing division, together.

Windsurfing is: Young, fast and inexpensive.”

Micah Buzianis (USA)
”I am writing to express my opinion on the importance of Windsurfing in the Olympic Games. I have been racing professionally for over 14 years, only on short boards and recently on formula boards. I have never had the opportunity to race an Olympic class board but I still feel that this aspect of our sport is a very crucial discipline as a part of the Olympics and as a part of our sport.

Windsurfing has gained a huge amount of recognition from being a part of the Olympics and needs to continue to be a part of this prestigious event. Windsurfing is a very different part of sailing that requires not only sailing knowledge but great physical training and talents. The invention and continual development of Windsurfing has contributed a lot to the sailing world making advancements in sail designs and hull design for many different sailing classes. All the men and women that are fortunate enough to be able to take part in the games are very well trained athletes, that not only need to be well trained in Windsurfing but they need to be well trained physically to cope with the strenuous demands that Olympic sailing requires.

Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (ARG)
"...Many of the Olympic classes will be amazed to hear that a windsurf event could be out of the Games...They admire the skills and power that the windsurfers have"


"...Combine the hard training of a marathon runner, the power of a sprinter and the talent of any other sailor...and you get a windsurfer at Olympic level!"


"... If a windsurf event is dropped by ISAF, it will be a big loss for the whole Olympic Games, not just sailing!" 

Jimmy Diaz (ARG)
"Windsurfing is a sport which has managed to combine all the aspects of traditional sailing with the excitement, athleticism, and speed associated with the more modern extreme sports.  It is a sport, which requires sailing knowledge, tactical prowess, and a high degree of athleticism.  On top of this it is a sport for the young and old bridging a gap between generations.  Windsurfing in the Olympics adds very much to the traditional sailing disciplines as it is a younger, more modern and exciting event.  It is by far the most athletically demanding discipline in sailing requiring every bit of sailing and tactical knowledge as the other disciplines.  It embodies more completely the Olympic spirit.  Losing windsurfing in the Olympics would very much lessen the Olympic regatta as it would take away not only from the excitement in the Olympics but also from all those sailors (men and women) striving to be Olympians in a modern, exciting, and affordable discipline."

Markus Huhtinen (FIN)

“Windsurfing is very popular and inexpensive form of sailing. It has enthusiastic participants all over the world. The racing classes may not be same everywhere, but all those are, nonetheless, part of the windsurfing world. On the top level the racing is mentally and physically challenging. It is also very different from any dinghy sailing class. Thus some type of windsurfing should remain in the Olympic games.

The physical differences of men and women play a big part in windsurfing, so separate fleets for both sexes are necessary. It is very important for the future of Olympic windsurfing that the form of racing there represents the current development of the sport. Only this way we can be sure that the top athletes from all over the world really compete in the Olympics. This also guarantees the future interest of great public and media.”

Sam Ireland (CAN)
“Windsurfing competition is both athletic and tactical with amazing potential for participation of all types of people around the world.  Women, as well as men, should definitely continue to have a windsurfing Olympic platform.  It would be a shame for the sport sailing and the Olympics to loose the most exciting expression of competition sailing.”

And here are some telling words from current Olympians, both men and women.

Quotes from Olympians

Kimberly Birkenfeld (USA) September 2, 2003

Just as the potential to sail in the Olympics is open to all nations, shouldn’t that same potential be open to all athletic body types? At the HEAVY end of our sport, we’ve heard rumor of the Star-and-Finn-type-athletes who weigh in at up to 119 kg/262 lbs.


But what about the numbers at the LIGHT end of our sport?


Let’s look at some numbers from the recent Pre-Olympic event:
The lightest MALE world-ranked WINDSURFER weighs in at 65 kg/143 lbs., which is 29 lbs. heavier than the smallest FEMALE WINDSURFER. This man is ranked 32nd in the world.


The lightest FEMALE single-handed world-ranked DINGHY sailor weighs in at 55 kg/121 lbs., which is 7 pounds heavier than the smallest FEMALE WINDSURFER.  This woman dinghy sailor is ranked 50th in the world.


And about that petite female windsurfer? She holds a #2 World Ranking, AND she won Silver in the 2000 Olympics.


I’m for diversity in competitors and competition. Someday, when we are all lucky enough to have children of our own, I wholeheartedly hope our daughters have the opportunity to compete in Olympic sailing. 


Don’t shut the door on them just because they turn out to be little girls. Let’s keep windsurfing in the Olympics and keep it as two separate male/female events”.

Ho Chi Ho (past ISAF Youth World Champion) & Chan King Yin (past IMCO Youth World Champion)

We love the speed, it is fun.  The equipment can be sailed in light and strong winds.  It is popular in Asia and we have good competitions which are easy to get to and fun to participate in.  If windsurfing will no longer be an Olympic event all the years of training for this will be lost as I will not be able to afford to switch to another sailing class.


Barbara Kendall (NZL) – Olympic Gold, Silver and bronze medal winner
”It would be a disaster to get rid of woman's windsurfing.

 I came through the NZ junior yachting classes and chose windsurfing for the following reasons and these reasons are why I am doing the sport 15 years later.

1.         Cheapest Yachting class easiest to transport.

2.         One design so it comes down to the skill of the sailor

3.         High action and speed

4.         Very athletic

ISAF would be eliminating some of the world’s best athletes and sailors if this class were eliminated.
Windsurfing for me has been one of the most challenging and satisfying sports in my life. Because of the success I have achieved it has encouraged 1000’s of NZ girls to participate in windsurfing, yachting and other sports in New Zealand

Faustine Merret (FRA)
The current board is capable of 25 knots. It is the 3rd fastest of the 9 Olympic Classes and is certainly the fastest and most spectacular women's event, Men and women’s windsurfing deserve their places in the Olympic Regatta on these facts alone!”

Allison Shreeve (AUS)
”Windsurfing is not only the most physical of all of the women’s sailing events, it is also the most exciting.”

Alessandra Sensini (ITA)
– Olympic Gold & Bronze medal winner
The women’s windsurfing event is the fastest and most media friendly of the women’s sailing events. Do not drop it!”

Lee Lai Shan (HKG) – Olympic Gold medal winner & ISAF World Sailor of the Year
Windsurfing was the only sailing sport I could afford to participate in.  I started when I was 12; 21 years later I am still competing at the highest level and still loving it.  It is an incredible dynamic sport, combining tactics and athletic qualities, very exciting and the equipment is easy to transport around the world.  It would be such a shame if windsurfing is no longer available to the youth of tomorrow as an Olympic event as this is a unique and truly affordable Olympic sailing discipline.

Gal Fridman (ISR) – Olympic Bronze medal winner & 2002 World Champion
Windsurfing in the Olympics is very important because it demonstrates another aspect of the sailing sport. At the same time, it combines the physical & tactical elements of sailing and links the sport more completely to the Olympic movement and its ideals by showing a truly athletic discipline.

Mike Gebhardt (USA) – Olympic Silver & bronze medal winner
It would be a disaster to remove the popular discipline of Female Windsurfing from the Olympics. It would be a real detriment to many countries sailing programs whose only hope of winning medals in Olympic sailing disciplines is in the simple, inexpensive disciplines of Men’s and Women’s Olympic Windsurfing. To remove to the purest and most athletic form of form of Female Sailing out of the Olympics would be a step in the wrong direction for ISAF.”

Bruce Kendall (NZL) - Olympic Silver & Bronze medal winner

In my opinion, the Olympic Sailing event should continue to try to show the full range of craft our sport has to offer and show our sport to the widest range of people and nations possible. The Laser Radial has very similar dynamics to the Europe class! It would be a sad day when Women can’t compete on boards at an Olympic level.

Tom Ashley (NZL) – 2002 ISAF Youth World Champion

I believe that an Olympic windsurfing campaign offers athletes from many countries and backgrounds the opportunity to compete on equal terms in quality international fleets. I also believe that it is essential that women’s windsurfing continues to be included in the Olympic Games. I decided to pursue an Olympic Mistral campaign because of the different dimensions of sailing which windsurfing offers. The racing is extremely intense, with tactics similar to those of the 49er and other apparent wind yachts but with added physical elements not available in other forms of yachting- we are the only Olympic class in which a number of athletes frequently sail wearing heart rate monitors.

So what action should you take now?

The first article in ISAF Regulation # 15.5.6 states the ISAF Events Committees terms of reference as being “every four years at the meeting immediately prior to the Olympic Games recommend to the Council the categories of yacht to compete in the Olympics to take place in five years time (The IOC terminology for ‘categories’ is ‘events’)

Therefore the ISAF Events Committee and Council must make this decision in November 2003.

As the President of your National Sailing Federation, please write to ISAF in support of

v     The inclusion of windsurfing in the 2008 Olympic Games for both men and women

v     And insist that ISAF makes this decision in November 2003

Normally, we would not wish to bother you with these sorts of matters. However, once in a while there comes a time when we all have to pull together and make sure that something happens. This is one of those times. The threat to remove at least one windsurfing set of medals needs to be taken seriously so please act to defend the future of both men and women’s windsurfing in the Olympics, especially the women’s event.

However, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@internationalwindsurfing.com  

If you want to make sure that this is job is done properly make sure that you do it yourself

To your success,


Aloha Class

Formula Windsurfing Class

Funboard Class

Mistral Junior One Design

Mistral One Design

Raceboard Class




The Chairmen of the ISAF Windsurfing Classes & The PWA

© 2003 by the ISAF Windsurfing Classes - All Rights Reserved