A highly experienced group of around 100 sailors and coaches were in attendance as the International 470 Class held is first "Sailors' and Coaches' Meeting" of the season during the 470 European Championships in Austria.
The meeting took place on 14 June and all those present participated in a wide ranging discussion with the objective to seek feedback and new ideas on all elements of the sport.
Stanislav KASSAROV (BUL) who was appointed President of the International 470 Class in November 2008, the Secretary General Alain CORCUFF (FRA) and recently appointed Class Manager Luissa SMITH (GBR) moderated the discussion.
After an opening introduction from the President on the key objectives of the 470 Class over the coming years, the first topic for debate was the ISAF Sailing World Cup
. With five of the seven events of the inaugural 2008-09 ISAF Sailing World Cup series having taken place, there was tremendous support for the concept and a wide range of constructive comments on improvements for the future. Morgan REESER
(USA), coach of the GBR 470 Team and with two Olympic Games in the 470 Class (1992 and 1996) and an Olympic silver medal to his credit (1992), represented the majority view in requesting that there be greater consistency between events, particularly in the starting, scoring and OCS procedures and documentation produced (such as Sailing Instructions).
Speaking for the sailors from more distant parts of the world, 2008 Olympic gold medallist Malcolm PAGE
(AUS) urged ISAF to include more continents as hosts of the ISAF World Cup events. He commented that particularly for the Oceanic and South American regions, the logistics and costs not only impact sailors' ability to participate in World Cup events, but also reduce the opportunities for global promotion.
Looking at the competition format, Victor KOVALENKO (AUS), renowned coach for the Australian 470 team, suggested that alternatives be trialled. Ideas included pre-determining the gold and silver fleets prior to competition, based on certain performance criteria, with a daily performance criteria elevating crew to the gold fleet or moving them to the silver fleet. So right up until the Medal Race, there is still a chance for position changes amongst the two fleets.
Another familiar face in the 470, multi-World Champion Andreas KOSMATOPOULOS
(GRE) suggested that to make travelling to Sail Melbourne, Australia, the first event on the World Cup tour, more attractive other events should be held before and after in venues within reasonable proximity.
Moving onto to Race Officials, 2004 Olympic gold medallist Kevin BURNHAM
(USA) emphasised the need for consistency in application of the rules and for class specific experience. The sailors particularly expressed their desire to encourage past 470 sailors to train as Race Officials.
With a focus on media, Luissa SMITH introduced the vision of the 470 Class to develop a cohesive media and communications strategy. Online technology will be maximized to improve services for 470 sailors, media, national class associations and fans, starting with the launch of a new online entry system.
Furthering supporting the importance of partnership and open dialogue between the active sailors and the administration of the International 470 Class, a Sailors' Council will be established during the 470 World Championships in Denmark.
Other topics discussed included the 470 Championships, 470 Development Programmes, prize money and the 2012 Olympic Games.
Stanislav KASSAROV closed the meeting by thanking all present for giving their time and expertise in what was a very constructive meeting.
The 470 Class will organize further Sailors' and Coaches' Meetings during the 470 World Championships, 20-29 August, Denmark and during either the 470 Junior World Championships, 10-18 July, Greece or the 470 Junior European Championships, 8-16 August, Hungary.