Ugly scrap likely over ouster of windsurfing

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 May, 2012, 12:00am


Top Hong Kong official Cowen Chiu But-kau believes the International Sailing Federation's (ISAF) general assembly in November will turn ugly after it emerged that Spain's representative at the vote to replace windsurfing with kiteboarding at the 2016 Olympics had gone against his federation's wishes.

The Royal Spanish Federation of Sailing issued a statement that their representative, Gerardo Seeliger, voted against its instructions to retain windsurfing. It has apologised to its windsurfers.

Chiu (pictured), president of the Windsurfing Association of Hong Kong, said yesterday: 'I think it will be ugly. There is going to be a big fight at the general assembly in Dublin this November, especially with a lot of countries opposing the move.

'It is too early to say if this controversial vote will be overturned, but I'm certain there will be plenty of opposition [at the meeting],' said Chiu, who will be going to Dublin, but in his capacity as head of the windsurfing association, to attend a committee meeting of his class.

Last week's contentious decision at the mid-year ISAF meeting in Italy has been widely unpopular and it is now understood that a number of representatives voted against the wishes of their federations to retain windsurfing.

The vote was 19-17 in favour of kiteboarding, and if Spain's representative had voted as told to, it would have been tied at 18-18, which would have meant windsurfing's status as an Olympic sport would have remained.

The Venezuelan Sailing Federation has also disassociated itself from the vote by one of its nationals, a vice-president of the ISAF, who also voted for kiteboarding. In a statement carried on Sail, the Venezuelan sailing authorities said: 'We are in total and absolute disagreement with the decision made by the representative of Venezuela within ISAF, Teresa Lara Anzola.'

This growing dissension across the world has raised a glimmer of hope for windsurfing, according to Chiu. 'We will lobby the Hong Kong Sailing Federation to support our fight,' he said.

Hong Kong's only gold medal at the Olympics is in windsurfing, with Lee Lai-shan's triumph at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Karl Kwok, vice-president of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee and president of the Sailing Federation, was unavailable for comment.