by Liz Baylis
Women's International Match Racing Association - WIMRA Executive Director Liz Baylis discusses the current status and future hopes for women's racing and sailing events in the Olympics and hopes for the sports continued growth.
The ISAF Council voted last week to remove the women's keelboat event from the Olympic slate for 2016.
Obviously this is a great disappointment to us and perhaps a decision they will regret. But it is done and we must now look forward and not backwards.
We have seen an incredible growth of women's match racing throughout the world over the last 10 years:
- from 20 events in 2000 to over 80 in 2010;
- from 115 skippers on the ranking list in 2000 to 320 now;
- women's match racing happening in many new countries including RSA, SLO, CRO, PER, ESA, KOR, IND, and more;
Though this has been in part due to the inclusion in the Olympic programme for 2012, it is mainly due to the tremendous effort that all of you have put into growing our sport. I do not see the recent decision diminishing the fact that women's match racing is a dynamic and exciting discipline and many of our most talented sailors will continue to participate.
As WIMRA Vice President, Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen (DEN) said in a recent note to the ISAF Women's Forum:
'I don't think that match racing has ever been adopted by the Sailing World Cups to use its full potential, so not really a surprise that women's keelboat/match racing is out again. I'm sure match racing will be fantastic events at the Pre-Olympics, ISAF Worlds in Perth and at the Olympic Games 2012. And match racing will for sure survive also outside the Olympic programme, no doubt about that.'
Where do we go from here?
WIMRA is committed to helping ensure that the events Lotte mentioned are all fantastic events and that the Olympic Women's Match Racing event in 2012 showcases our sport for what it is: exciting, athletic, media friendly, and riveting. But, we will also be working outside of the Olympic programme to further develop women's match racing in new areas as well as bolster the existing excellent events and help develop new events.
We will continue to need your help, but we are also available to help you. Let's continue to work together to develop and grow our sport.