Windsurfing withdrawn from Guernsey Games

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WINDSURFING’S wait for Island Games action goes on, following the announcement that the discipline had not met the IIGA directive requirement.

They stipulate that no fewer than six member islands must commit a team for a discipline to enter the Games.

Windsurfing has been absent from the roster since Jersey hosted the event in 2015 and local favourite Stephen Melia claimed individual gold.

However with just Jersey, Alderney, Menorca and hosts Guernsey committed, the sport shall not take place.

Games director Julia Bowditch said: ‘It’s a massive shame for all involved.

‘A lot of work and planning had gone into organising the event as well as preparation from the islands committed.

‘It is always tricky with the disciplines that are rotated in and out of different Games.

‘There is more of a risk of not meeting the criteria when their presence isn’t as frequent.

‘It’s a difficult scenario for the competitors given the length of time they have geared up for this.

‘Windsurfing hasn’t been included since 2015, so a lot of Channel Islands participants would have had this summer circled in their calendar for quite some time.

However, the extended absence of the sport, in the Island Games, also known as sailboarding may be a product of a shift in the sport.

Local windsurfing coach Justin Horton, provides instruction to many Islanders through the Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club, and has seen participation levels plummet.

He said: ‘It’s incredibly sad to learn that windsurfing will again not be included in the Island Games.

‘It’s also sad to see the decline in windsurfing in general, but the overall umbrella of sailing has diversified a lot over the years.

‘There is now foil boarding, kite surfing, wave sailing and countless others which people around the sport have pressed into.

‘People have branched into these new and exciting discplines and that has lead to a decrease in competitive windsurfing across the Islands.’

The evidence in Jersey serves as a microcosm to the rest of the sailing world.

A decline has been seen industry wide, which has in turn lead to many of the other Island Games members to not enter teams as they previously would have.

Despite a competitive impact, Horton has still seen a number of newcomers turn to the sport as a starting point.

He said: ‘For novices just starting out, windsurfing is a great way to learn the basics and build solid foundations.

‘So the foundation level hasn’t seen much impact.

‘The difference is, when participants venture into a competitive sphere, they are choosing some of the newer alternatives to windsurfing.’

While it seems competitive windsurfing might have ran its course in popularity, there is a potential for some of the newer alternatives to be included in future Island Games.

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