Most Pan Am Games Classes Reinstated

The confusing situation involving the Pan Am Games sailing competition appears to have been resolved. According to the press release issued Monday night by US SAILING, the regatta will go on as was initially planned, with the exception of the Lightning class, which has been excluded from the competition. The Pan Am Games are scheduled to take place Aug. 1 to 17, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.The Pan Am Games have always featured a mix of Olympic and non-Olympic classes, just like the event has always included Olympic and non-Olympic sports. However, says Fred Hagedorn, chairman of the US SAILING's Olympic Sailing Committee, the Pan Am Sports Organization appears (PASO) to have slightly shifty their philosophy regarding Olympic sports. "Essentially what they said," says Hagedorn, "and it's not simply in the sport of sailing, it affects other Olympic sports as well, is that in Olympic sports the same disciplines that are in the Olympic Games would be held in the Pan Am Games."The main point of contention for US SAILING, and presumably other National Governing Bodies within the Americas, was the timing of the decision, which came just months before the Pan Am Games and after the U.S. team had been picked. Initially the situation appeared to be much worse--though that is likely of little consolation of Brian Taboada, Theresa Colantuono, and Ryan Dunn, the United States' Lightning team--as organizers had decided to eliminate any non-Olympic class, leaving just the Laser and the men's and women's Mistral. Some aggressive lobbying from sailing officials, including ISAF President Paul Henderson, was enough to convince PASO to reinstate any class that could be seen as a "technical equivalent" to one being sailed in the 2004 Olympic Games. While this may lead to some odd parallels--the J/24 subbing for the Star, the Snipe taking the place of the 49er--the end result is that all but three of American sailors who worked to successfully qualify themselves for the Pan Am Games won't see their efforts go to waste.Hagedorn said that it's too early to guess what will happen for the next Pan Am Games, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2007. "I think was you're seeing is potentially a philosophical shift in the Pan American Sports Organization," said Hagedorn. "There's nothing wrong with the [new] philosophy, but I think it just needs to be debated among the Pan American countries more intensely."As for the Lightning team, all hope is not yet lost. Hagedorn said they would continue to fight on behalf of reinstating the class. But, he added, "I think that the PASO executive committee has spent a lot of time thinking about this in the last three months and has made their decision. We've made a final appeal to see if we can get them to reopen that discussion. I would be delighted if they do, but I would not be surprised if they don't." The Lightning and the Snipe classes are the only two to have been a part of every Pan Am Games since 1959.The U.S. team for the 2003 Pan Am Games includes: Paul and Mary Ann Hess (Hobie 16); Tim Healy, Nick Judson, Gordon Borges, and Davenport Crocker (J/24); Ben Richardson (Laser); Sally Barkow (Laser Radial); Peter Wells (Men's Mistral); Lanee Butler (Women's Mistral); Henry Filter and Lisa Griffith (Snipe); and Jeff Linton (Sunfish).All of the sailors, including the Lightning team, are members of the 2003 U.S. Sailing Team.