My fellow Sailors and friends,
Let me start my first newsletter of 2018 by wishing you all a happy new year and much success, both on and off the water. In my last note I expressed my excitement and optimism about 2018, and I truly hope that we are able to share very special moments throughout the year.
2018 is a crucial one for sailing, and I expect to see us make clear progress in all our priorities, including increasing the level of transparency and accountability in World Sailing’s governance, creating a compelling offering for youth, and increasing participation and growing the global audience of our sport.
As we seek to turn these objectives into realities, it is very important to me that we listen as much as possible to the views of sailors and those close to the sport – about where we can improve as an organisation and as a sport. Many of you have already reached out to me, and so I encourage you all to continue getting in contact – I am always happy to hear from you.
Yours in Sailing,
President, World Sailing
Our Paralympic Future
With the start of a new year, it is always great to have some good news to share. And, indeed, I am very happy to report that Sailing has successfully moved into the next stage of the application process for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris.
We have worked very hard on the re-instatement of Para Sailing into the Paralympic Games, and we will continue to do so. And I would like to re-iterate the importance of Para Sailing within the wider scope of our sport and our continued efforts in ensuring that Para Sailing is included in all of our events. For me this is a fundamental part of our organization and of our sport, I look forward to continuing building our Para Sailing programmes with all our MNAs around the world.
On a practical note, we are now moving ahead to stage two of the IPC process, and we have until 9th July to complete a final application. The Governing Board of the International Paralympic Committee will announce its final decision on the Paris 2024 sports programme in January 2019.
Equipment for Olympic Classes
As we start the year, a lot of questions have been raised about the evaluation of future Olympic classes and events. Some uncertainty regarding the process is understandable, as we are applying the new EU anti-monopoly regulations and at the same time using Regulation 23 for the first time.
Bearing this in mind, the whole process has two main streams:
The first focuses on equipment and the compliance of EU law regarding anti-monopoly. Currently, World Sailing is updating its Olympic Classes Contracts, in order to ensure that they comply with the new and updated EU laws on the subject – this process will help us as an organisation going forward. In addition the Board decided that the Laser equipment (men and women) and RSX equipment (men and women) should be reviewed in accordance with our anti-monopoly policy. This gives the opportunity for equipment evaluations to be held for the relevant events and, based on the outcome, Council can then make a sound decision to either reselect the equipment or choose new equipment.
The second focuses on Regulation 23. Accordingly, the 2024 Events & Equipment Working Party is currently reviewing the 10 events for the Olympic Games, and will propose which events should be placed under further review in order to ensure that World Sailing has a strong slate of events going forward. Recommendations will then be made to Council in November 2018, and all decisions on equipment will be finalized no later than November 2019 is when all equipment decisions for the 2024 Olympic Games will be made.
These processes are incredibly important as they help us to shape the presentation of our sport and give us the ideal platform to combine the development of our sport with the Olympic Games. On a similar note, we are working very hard on growing women’s participation in our sport and have seen many positive developments in recent years and, with the support of the IOC Agenda 2020, we have an opportunity to really accelerate this expansion.
Improved Coverage for Sailing
One of the goals we set out last year was ‘to bring the sport to a greater audience’. Looking at the footage available now, it is clear to me that the quality has increased, and the new media platforms work well for our sport. Having seen the footage from the Star Sailors League and now the Miami World Cup finals, we have set new standards in broadcasting our sport, using graphics, tracking, onboard cameras, course action shots and live commentary. Now, we must make sure that this footage is readily available on our websites, in sailing clubs, in bars and so on. The objective remains the same – to bring this fantastic sport to a greater audience!
The Volvo Ocean Race is again showing how incredible ocean racing can be, and has seen very impressive achievements by the crews and the equipment. With the coverage that is available, I am sure that ocean racing will attract both new fans and new sailors wanting to try one of the many different disciplines we have. Ocean racing and endurance competition is increasingly popular and we have some strong events like Volvo Ocean Race and Vendee Globe doing an excellent job promoting it.
One of Ocean racing’s pinnacle events, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, recently had perfect conditions. It was great to see the Chairman of the Oceanic & Offshore Committee Stan Honey taking line honours with the team Comanche, and his Vice-Chairman Matt Allen winning overall with his team ItchiBan in what must be a historic moment for the Committee! It is certainly good to see such a strong link between the governance of our sport and the practice of it. Congratulations guys!
Sadly, in recent weeks, ocean racing has also reminded us of how easily and quickly fatal accidents can happen in our sport. Maximising the safety of our sailors and the environment around them has, and must remain a priority for World Sailing. I can only second the thoughts of the Vestas 11th Hour Racing crew in sending my sincere condolences to the families and all those affected by the recent incident. To all our crews and athletes racing, I continue to send my well wishes for safe and strong sails!