As it was expected, it didn’t take long for Spain’s top windsurfers to express their anger, frustration and bitterness with their country’s vote against their discipline and in favor of kiteboarding in the recent ISAF Mid-Year Meeting. The first one to publicly express her feelings was Blanca Manchón in a letter to the President of the Spanish Olympic Committee where she asks for his intervention in order to rectify what was, according to the official line, an “error”.
Dear Mr. President,
I am Blanca Manchón, a 25-year old sportswoman from Seville, member of the Royal Spanish Sailing Federation in the Olympic windsurf discipline (currently the RS: X Class), where I won two golds, one silver and one bronze at the World Championships, three absolute titles in the World Cup, an Olympic diploma at the 2004 Athens Olympics, four medals at the European Championships. I was named best female sailor of the world in 2010 by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), in addition to being ADO [Spain’s Olympic preparation program] athlete at its top level in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011.
The reason I’m sending you this letter is to inform you about the events that took place in relation to windsurf’s Olympic status and the serious consequences its exclusion from the Olympic program could have to our country’s sports. In fact, it is a discipline where large amounts of money have been invested by the state and in which we are strong contenders for medals at the Olympic Games, not just in London 2012, but in 2016 and 2020, given the potential of Spain’s windsurfers.
In May of this year, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) submitted to vote a proposal to all national federations to change three of the existing Olympic disciplines for the 2016 Olympics. Inexplicably, and for pure profit and economic interests of the ISAF, windsurfing was eliminated from the Olympic disciplines in favor of kiteboarding.
The behind-the-scenes politics and lobbying by the ISAF managers in favor of kiteboarding on countries that usually cast a blank vote, not having representatives in any of the two disciplines, and the absence in that vote of the Asian countries, a driving force behind windsurf’s Olympic presence, produced an unexpected result in that vote with 19 ballots against 17 in favor of kiteboarding, to the detriment of windsurfing.
When the result of the vote was published, and not believing what had happened, I asked for the list of countries that had voted. That is when I got shocked and confused to see that my own country, Spain, had voted for the kite, which in turn influenced the Latin American vote to switch from windsurfing to kiteboarding.
Spain also votes on behalf of Portugal and Andorra, in the so-called Group E. Its vote was for windsurfing, according to a previous agreement between the three countries, although Spain, at the very last moment and with a close vote, changed its decision …
What should we call that? What interests drove Spain to change its vote, a vote that was previously agreed, at least in theory, with the athletes, the technical directors and the regional sailing federations?
This decision has destroyed all the work accomplished over the past 12 years by the main regional federations of Spain and put an end to the realistic possibility that Marina Alabau, Blanca Manchón or Pastor Ivan, those that will represent the country because of their sports qualification, become strong contenders for medals in the Olympic Games of 2016 and 2020.
SPAIN IS A WORLD POWER in Olympic windsurfing, thanks to the support we had from the Sports Council and the ADO Plan. However, the RFEV voted for the unknown discipline of kiteboarding… So much effort, sacrifice and money invested in us for what? I do not understand anything at all.
The entire sailing world is at war through the social networks, mainly through Facebook and Twitter, trying to change ISAF’s controversial decision at its next meeting to be held in November. However, they also ask Spain to explain its vote for TREASON.
I have personally requested an explanation from the president of the Royal Spanish Sailing Federation, Gerardo Pombo, who hours before the publication of the list of countries of the aforementioned voting was defending tooth and nail that Spain had voted in favor of windsurf. Once the list was made public he rectified and issued a statement on RFEV’s website, recognizing the mistake: “It was just a mistake, a simple voting mistake.” As if to tick a box was so difficult so that one would err in something so transcendental, in this case for the Olympic discipline of windsurfing and all the infrastructure that was put in place throughout all those years.
However, this rectification was only sent to the presidents of Spain’s regional sailing federations and was published solely on RFEV’s website. It wasn’t sent to all the media that usually received the sailing federation’s press releases. In addition, this rectification is useless if it’s not accompanied by the intention to cancel Spain’s vote in ISAF. The vote was against Spain’s sporting interests, it was disloyal to Portugal and Andorra, to all windsurfers and completely ignored the recommendations of all technical directors.
With this letter I kindly ask you, in accordance with your responsibility as the leader of the country’s sport, to ask for the pertinent explanations from the president of the Royal Spanish Sailing Federation in relation to what took place and give him the necessary orders so that Spain invalidates its vote in ISAF, in order for us, the athletes, technicians and technical directors of the sport of sailing, not to feel embarrassed by this situation.
Gerardo Pombo, president of the RFEV, knows exactly what buttons he has to press in order for the ISAF to rectify this unjust decision at its next meeting, scheduled for November.
Thanking you in advance for all the support I received during my career to date,
Blanca Manchon Dominguez (ESP-1)