Every month Boards will catch up with an influential female windsurfer from the UK, arranged by and in association with FLOW, this series of articles will aim to continue to drive women’s windsurfing both in the UK and around the world.
First up, Izzy Hamilton, RS:X competitor and keen promoter of women’s racing, let’s us know what she has been up to since the decision to remove windsurfing as an Olympic class.
Saturday was a big day in windsurfing history, ISAF announced to many peoples surprise that windsurfing has been removed, and kitesurfing course racing added into the 2016 Olympics. Windsurfers and kitesurfers are keen to have both classes in the games, we are after all the coolest racing classes and both are fun, fast and accessible sports relevant to millions of people globally.
Initially, my reaction to the decision was shock. I have trained and competed in windsurfing racing my for a large part of my life, I love it and I can’t imagine not racing any more. My dream of going to Rio was so real one day and non existent the next. The confidence I gained winning medals in Junior and Youth World Championships has been lost. I am however very excited at the prospect of a new challenge.
There is a large petition online which many thousands have already signed – Olympic Windsurfing Petition
Windsurfers have no objection to kitesurfing in the Olympics and the idea is to promote the idea of both sports to ISAF for the Olympic future. If ISAF’s main focus is the media, making the sport more diverse by adding different styles of racing has to be a good thing, to the public all the white boats look the same anyway!
If their decision remains the same 1000’s of windsurfers, coaches and support staff loose their jobs and a lot of money. The facebook site http://www.facebook.com/groups/ISAFolympicswindsurfing/ that opened for us all to chat and learn about windsurfing and kitesurfing (14,000 members by day two) has a lot of information from various important people. Many windsurfers are learning about the “darkside” and misunderstandings and new questions regarding both sports are being evaluated, fingers crossed these will make their way back to ISAF as some very obvious flaws have been posted.
The RYA pathway of Team15, Bic Techno and Youth RSX racing will loose much of its support. I followed this pathway starting T15 at my local Tamar Lake, then into National and International Racing, will the RYA fund and support all this if it is no longer feeding sailors into their Olympic pathway? I looked up to Nick and Bryony as Olympic medalists and it motivated me to continue training and racing.
I hope windsurf racing has a future outside the Olympics, for the windsurfers of the future to look up to. Many of the top PWA Freestyle, Slalom and Wave sailors previously raced the imco without the introductory platform of racing, will these classes also suffer?
My windsurfing plans are still to train with Bryony until the Olympics to help her win her medal. I will also race in Sail for Gold Regatta in Weymouth this summer. Between the games and November when ISAF have a chance to re evaluate and re vote on their decision I guess I will spend time learning to kitesurf and continue with some windsurfing. The future currently is a big unknown. Fingers crossed we get to go somewhere warm as learning to kitesurf in the UK could be a chilly experience!
Izzy explains her first kitesurfing experience on page two…