Where is the Focus for ISAF?

Posted on 09/25/12 in Sailing, No Comments

There has been a frenzy of activity as ISAF unveils its submissions for the 2012 comference in Dublin… the first I’ll ever attend.

I was interested enough to read through the submissions to gain an appreciation of what issues would be tackled during the conference.

The highest profile decision to be made is the Presidential election.  I have my thoughts but due to a muzzle I won’t be sharing them right now… one is definitely not a skiff fan though, figure out who for yourself.

The second highest profile decision is a massive submission by many countries to replace the newly elected kitesurfing and return windsurfing to the Olympic agenda.  I won’t comment on that one for now either, though I will say that both are fantastic sports.

My main area of interest is ‘saving sailing’ so that it stays as an Olympic sport in general.  I have heard loud and clear the arguments against sailing… it’s expensive to run, it’s elitist, it has few live fans and smaller TV ratings… these are the massive challenges that sailing must overcome in order to maintain it’s Olympic status.

So I was curious to see what proposals would be put forward to address some of the big issues of our sport…  Of the 130 submissions to ISAF here is the breakdown:

  • Select boats for the Olympics: 40
  • Select boats for the Youth Worlds: 10
  • Change/Modify Rules: 20
  • Adjusting procedures for judges and measurers: 6
  • Bureaucratic procedural adjustments: 10
  • Increasing the efficiency of ISAF: 1 (overlapping committee appointments)
  • Qualification procedure for 2016: 2
  • Use of bibs at events: 2
  • Making ISAF conference cheaper to hold: 1
  • Giving ISAF control of more teaching courses: 8
  • Giving athletes a voice at the table: 1
  • Removing athletes existing position: 1
  • Specifying scoring software for events: 1
So, while sailing is in danger of being kicked out of the games, what is ISAF focussing on?  For the most part it is busy re litigating decisions that should have been settled at the last meetings.  For 2 years we heard that instead of non-stop fighting about equipment to be used at the games, there would be long term thinking, 6 events would become ‘core’ events and the other 4 events would be selected 6 years out from the games…
But we have not executed.  Instead of the 2016 events being decided, the sailing community is again spending 10 days to look at one issue, ignoring the fact that it doesn’t really matter to the public what boats the sailors are in, they want to feel a part of a race and understand how one person beats another.
There were two submissions into the business of events, they are the 2 bib submissions.  While sailing bibs are important so that sponsors can get their names out, either through national team sponsorships or regatta sponsorships, sailing will not be saved by hashing out this one issue, though at least it’s in the right direction.
Anyways, if you have any time to do things other than review 130 submissions, please enjoy what is one of the most exciting and complete sailing races you’ll ever be likely to see… until next time we broadcast ‘theatre style racing’.  This is how I think we can ‘save sailing.’

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