Let's make sure we are a gathering of people who can make it happen.
The work done by the people in this room, and the vast array of national sailing authorities, classes, event organizers and clubs out there that you represent, is the practical and democratic way in which this Federation's vision for sailing are translated into reality.
And what you do can make a massive difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people.
The benefits of sailing don't stop with the sport itself. Sailing's values extend into all our everyday lives.
"Building Blocks For The Sport"
The ISAF Member National Authorities are the administrative and operational building blocks for the sport of sailing - on both domestic and international levels. The continued development of sailing around the world depends on how effectively ISAF and its MNAs function.
All MNAs face challenges, and, in some cases, a struggle for survival. Sailing is in perpetual competition with other sports, as well as with a growing number of leisure options, to attract and retain participants, supporters, public interest and resources. Failure against the competition could mean that sailing is marginalized. In most countries the sport's competitors are getting tougher every day, intensifying the challenge faced by International Federations. You are the ambassadors for the sport in your country.
It is also crucial that the Member National Authorities work in partnership with the National Olympic Committee, government organizations, other national sports federations and sports organizations.
Clearly, hard work, organization, skills and vision on the part of ISAF and each Member National Authority are critical to the success of the sport. I know we can all work together.
"The ISAF Centenary"
The ISAF Centenary has been an exciting and busy year. At the ISAF Sailing Hall of Fame on Monday evening you heard about many of the achievements and milestones of the past 100 years, as well as the activities during 2007. I don't believe there was a dry eye in the house. To pay tribute to the legends in sailing was a real honour for ISAF.
I would like to highlight just a few other achievements during 2007:
At the Mid-Year Meeting in Paris, we acknowledged Jacques ROGGE's contributions to the sport by presenting him with the ISAF Beppe Croce. Jacques has made an exceptional difference to the Olympic Movement through his wisdom and vision. We have all benefited from his involvement. We certainly have a President of the IOC who is knowledgeable about sailing and all aspects of our sport.
The ISAF Marketing Department created in October 2006 has had a busy year. Priority has gone to the Centenary, the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships and the ISAF website. As many of you know, for the first time at an ISAF event, ISAF took responsibility for managing the television production and distribution at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships.
ISAF produced a preview show, six 26-minute highlights shows during the Championship, seven 3-minute video news reels, live Medal Racing and the Championship DVD is available for purchase here [click here to email the ISAF Marketing team for more details]. The distribution reach extended to 564 million household, with 61 countries having access to the TV feed, and 100 countries able to access the footage via Broadband TV. A very positive and exciting step for the sport.
The ISAF Sailing World Championships is ISAF's pinnacle sailing event - and a proven and world class sports event.
Looking ahead to the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships, earlier this week I was very proud to announce that Perth, Australia will be our hosts in 2011. A fantastic venue.
The ISAF Team Racing World Championships recently concluded in Gandia, Spain and the ISAF Women's Match Racing Worlds took place in Saint Quay, France. Claire Leroy's victory in France and throughout the year was honoured, when she was announced as the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year on Tuesday.
"ISAF Sail the World Weekend"
The ISAF Sail the World Weekend on 1-2 September was a unique event. More than 60 countries were involved extended from Moldova to Samoa, Cayman Islands to India. In Japan 18,000 sailors gathered to celebate.
As you know the poster has been reproduced for sale. If you would like to have a unique memento from this year together with a fantastic piece of art which takes a humorous look at sailing - these are available at the ISAF reception for 15 Euros [or by clicking here emailing the ISAF Marketing team]. All proceeds from the poster are going to youth sailing.
Other initiatives included a commemorative stamp - which was launched by the Federation Françoise de Voile at the 2007 ISAF Mid-Year Meeting. This has truly been an example of how the nations around the world value ISAF and want to be part of the ISAF fraternity.
Also this year, we have launched the ISAF Environment Code, which is a significant step in supporting one of ISAF's top level Strategic Plan objectives - to respect and safeguard our environment and support sustainable and environmentally friendly venues.
Another significant step in the Strategic Plan has been the development of the "Introductory Racing Rules", which are to be used as introductory rule for all ages. I am sure the rules will help to increase participation by making the sport more accessible.
The America's Cup has had a significance presence this year. A cliffhanger of a final and the build up through the Acts and Louis Vuitton Cup provided a spectacular profile for sailing. The achievements of skipper Ed BAIRD and the Alinghi team to defend the America's Cup were also recognized at the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards.
"A Breath Of Fresh Air"
None of us can have failed to notice the presence of the ISAF Athletes Commission during this Conference. They have provided a "breath of fresh air" in communicating their ideas across many areas of the sport. The role of the Athletes' Commission is not just elite sailing. They are also looking at areas such as sailors in administration, health and welfare and youth issues. We are fortunate to have sailors who are so committed to the goals of the Commission and I really look forward to building on this relationship.
This is just a snapshot of the year's activities - and demonstrates the true diversity of our sport.
Personally, I have been fairly busy travelling to various events and sailing meetings. To highlight a few:
Laser 4.7 Europeans in Ireland
"Organizing the Olympic Sailing Competition"
Organizing the Olympic Sailing Competition is an infinitely more complex and demanding job than the previous Competition, as the sport develops, expectations grow and the demands for the delivery of the competition increase.
ISAF's work begins many years before the Olympic Sailing Competition itself as we review the bids from the candidate cities and visit the venues. The work level of course increases as the host city is selected by the IOC and the countdown starts. Preparations for the Olympic Sailing Competition require countless meetings, workshops and inspection visits.
Like all major undertakings, the devil lies in the detail. ISAF, BOCOG and the Qingdao Sailing Committee have done everything in our power to take even the tiniest detail into account. We now have two test events to add to our experience and we have solved many significant and minor issues which have cropped up. As with any sailing event - and ours must be the most unpredictable sport on the Olympic programme - we must now hope for the little bit of luck that all successful events need. ISAF, the officials and the sailors who already have two years' experience of sailing in Qingdao are all looking forward to a magnificent and spectacular 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition.
We will be holding the 2008 ISAF Mid-Year Meeting in the "sailing city" of Qingdao and you will all have the opportunity to visit the venue and enjoy the atmosphere of a very unique city.
"Selection Of Events"
The selection of events for the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition will have a significant impact on the sport around the world. Olympic sailing establishes the pathways for each nation's development programmes - and ultimately onto the funding a national sailing authority receives.
You, the Council members around this table, will be representing the interests of your national sailing authorities. Of course, those interests are influenced by nation's performance in the events. It is of course impossible to think of events, without at the same time thinking of the equipment which will fill that event slot.
Tomorrow, when we start the discussion on the events for the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition, I ask you to cast politics and nationalism aside and make decisions in the best interests of the sport around the world.
We as a sport have been given some specific guidance by the IOC in making our event selection: ten events, 380 athletes and to increase the participation of women and the global appeal of the sport.
A working party has been reviewing the ISAF Advertising Code to ensure it delivers for sailors, events, classes and ISAF.
In future, we plan to implement and amend the ISAF Advertising Code over a specific timeframe, to ensure agreements can be signed with sponsors, secure in the knowledge that ISAF will not be changing the code without due notice.
"ISAF World Cup"
We are developing ISAF products and plan to take them to market in 2008. I hope we can agree to launch the ISAF World Cup, which will give us a very exciting and innovative event to attract sponsors to the sport - to the sailors, the event organizers and ISAF.
I would like to thank all our sponsors for their commitment to the sport:
Rolex, San Pellegrino and Schenker
Hobie Cat Europe became the latest sponsor to partner with ISAF in the Connect to Sailing programme. Hobie joins existing sponsors Performance Sailcraft, Hyde Sails and the European Confederation of Nautical Industries # in support of the ISAF initiative to increase participation in sailing from the grassroots up.
ISAF is committed to achieving gender equity across all ISAF Committees and all ISAF activities. ISAF's commitment to both genders extends throughout ISAF policies and is a foundation of the ISAF Strategic Plan.
This is an important obligation for all ISAF Members. I wrote to each of you, the ISAF Council and the countries you represent in October seeking your full effort to ensure we achieve our goals.
ISAF has set the sport of sailing and national sailing authorities the following targets for representation across ISAF committees:
That not less than 20% (25% in 2012) of the members of each ISAF Committee shall be drawn from each gender
That not less than 15% (20% in 2012) of the Chairman and Vice-Chairmen of all Committees shall be drawn from each gender
Where are we now - the ISAF position in 2007
33 ISAF Committees, Sub-committees and Commissions
12 have > 20% women's representation
14 have < 20% women's representation
7 have 0% women's representation
That is where I turn to you. In implementing the ISAF Targets. Whilst Council can set these targets at a strategic level - it is the national sailing authorities who must empower the sport to deliver against the targets.
"The International Sailing Federation Is Its Members"
The International Sailing Federation is its members - the national sailing authorities around the world. It is the national sailing authorities who are responsible for the development of sailing in their territories.
Currently, ISAF consists of 123 national sailing authorities recognised as ISAF Members. Later on, we will be increasing that number to 125 as we consider applications from Oman and Kyrgyzstan.
There are 205 countries recognized by the IOC as National Olympic Committees. In theory each of these could become an ISAF Member. The practice is very different. But the expansion of ISAF and sailing around the world is positive. Of the 82 countries who are not currently members, two will be presented for approval by ISAF Council. ISAF is in communication with a further 33 countries to become ISAF members. The outlook is positive - but there is a long way to go.
Last year, ISAF revised its membership requirements to reflect the different structures of sports organizations around the world and enable a broader range of organizations to become members. ISAF must be flexible across all its areas of operation in order to support sailing.
The diversity across the national sailing authorities is huge - whether due to economy, geography or cultural reasons, alongside a sports and sailing heritage. We need to work to provide knowledge and guidance to all corners of the world.
"The Source Of Knowledge"
ISAF needs to be the source of knowledge, through which we will support MNAs, Classes and Event Organizers as they deliver the sport around the world.
Knowledge is critical to the future of sailing. I feel there has been a distinct shift over the past decade as the desire to work together and share knowledge intensifies.
We have some great tools already - the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing, ISAF Equipment Rules of Sailing, ISAF Offshore Special Regulations, various Race Management Manuals, safety codes, environmental codes and many more.
We need to protect our intellectual property and use our intellectual property to protect the sport and to support the structure of our sport.
Knowledge also extends to guidelines and programmes.
Recognizing the need to support and encourage MNAs to establish training programmes, ISAF is developing an ISAF National Training Programme - from learn-to-sail level to learn-to-race level. This will be launched in March 2008.
We recognize that many national sailing authorities need guidance at a foundation level. In response we are developing MNA guidelines to provide guidance across a wide range of issues from governance to marketing.
"ISAF Industry Forum"
I am motivated by the belief that whole of sailing is stronger than the sum of its parts. A significant partner is the sailing and marine industry.
As a first step to expanding this partnership, the ISAF Executive Committee has initiated the ISAF Industry Forum.
The ISAF Industry Forum will embrace all industry sectors, such as sail makers, boat designers, hardware, technology, clothing and equipment manufacturers, commercial sailing holiday companies. The development of a closer relationship and partnership will allow ISAF and these industries to work together in a way that will benefit and aid the advancement of sailing.
Of course ISAF would like to work with the industry in the commercially viable markets. But we also need to look at how we can work with the industry in those less commercially attractive territories. I don't have the answers, but I am sure together we can find solutions. I was very pleased to see so many industry representatives at the Connect to Sailing seminar.
"Commitment To Youth"
Sport can contribute to a healthy lifestyle, and an introduction to the values of sport and competition. Sport can teach young people tolerance and respect for others, it can deliver hope, pride, identity and health, and can help shape body and mind.
The many initiatives already in place by MNAs, Classes, clubs and the sailing industry are impressive - but we can do more.
You will be aware that the "ISAF Ladies Cookbook" was launched earlier this week and is being sold. All funds raised are targeted at youth sailing initiatives. We are anticipating that around Euros 5,000 will be raised. Thank you.
At this year's Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Canada, the ISAF Athlete Participation Programme enabled two countries to make their debut appearance at the Championship - Paraguay and St Lucia.
The Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship marked the fourth time the Championship had been held in Canada. Significantly the sailors were sailing from the venue and on the same waters as many of today's sailing heroes did just over thirty years ago at the 1976 Olympic Games. I have no doubt they were inspired by their heroes' achievements.
At the IOC Session on 5 July 2007, the IOC created the Youth Olympic Games. The objective was for the IOC to play its role as a catalyst for the sports movement. It showed that its commitment to the youth of today and tomorrow is about action, not just words, by offering the youth an event of their own in the spirit of the Olympic Games.
On Monday, I had great pleasure to present the inaugural ISAF President Development Award to Mohammed AZZOUG, President of the Algerian Sailing Federation. Mohammed has been instrumental in the development of sailing in Algeria and North Africa.
Mohammed secured the backing of the Algerian government to fund the supply of Lasers for the single-person dinghy events at the All Africa Games. The Lasers will remain in Algeria for the benefit of sailing as a whole.
This summer, Mohammed co-ordinated the introduction of the African Sailing Confederation - to represent the interests of sailors across the African continent. I hope that at the 2008 ISAF Mid-Year Meeting the African Sailing Confederation will be recognized by ISAF as an ISAF Continental Member.
ISAF's challenge is to develop the sport across the next 100 years.
For ISAF, the sport is all about the challenge. The challenge of the sport itself - mental and physical, the challenge of managing and leading a sport in modern times, the challenge of competition from other leisure pursuits and the challenge of ensuring our sport remains accessible to all.
ISAF can only achieve on all these challenges through partnerships. All of you are able to make a difference and be partners with and champions for our sport. Whether it be introducing newcomers to the sport, supporting initiatives and events or getting involved in activities and commitment of sailing clubs around the world.
Together we can make a difference and ensure sailing continues to be enjoyed by as many people as possible.
ISAF Meetings - www.sailing.org/meetings
ISAF Sailing Hall of Fame - www.sailing.org/halloffame
ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards - www.sailing.org/worldsailor