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9 November 2005, 11:29 am
Olympic Format Goes Under The Spotlight
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ISAF Annual Conference 2005
Singapore

Today in Singapore the ISAF Events Committee launched into the debate surrounding the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition Format with ISAF President Göran PETERSSON (SWE) joining the start of the meeting. Lively debate followed as one of ISAF's top level Committees got their hands on the big issue of this year's ISAF Annual Conference.
After Tuesday's evening's celebrations when Fernando ECHAVARRI and Antón PAZ (ESP) and Ellen MACARTHUR (GBR) were honoured with the 2005 ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year Awards, the Conference jumped back into top gear this morning.

The Events Committee meeting began with a speech by Göran PETERSSON, which led Committee Chairman Bjorn UNGER (SWE) to move straight into discussions about the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition Format. The President was quick to praise the work the Olympic Format Working Party had undertaken, saying that it had provided a solid platform for the meeting with the Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) from which submission 025 emerged. He praised the Party saying, 'The work you had done before, enabled us to talk with background.' He went on to describe the meeting with the OBS explaining, 'It was a very positive meeting. We are on a very good footing with OBS as long as we listen to what they say... Thank you for your diligent and important work that made this possible.'

The Olympic Debate

The debate centred around late submission 025 and in particular the issue of discards and the weighting of race results. Chairman of the ISAF Classes Committee Jeff MARTIN (GBR) joined the debate to give the view of the Olympic classes, whilst Olympic gold medallist and two-time ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Sofia BEKATOROU (GRE) gave a sailor's opinion on the proposals. Olympic Format Working Party chair Kim ANDERSEN (DEN) also gave the benefit of the research undertaken, whilst supporting submission 025.

As expected the debate was in depth and lengthy, with the Committee deciding to support submission 025, but with votes on two provisos. First they approved an amendment to change the range of races for which the discard can be applied from 1-5 to 1-10 (1-15 for the 49er).

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Göran PETERSSON talks to
the Events Committee
© ISAF
There then followed a motion based around the proposed results weighting to provide a decisive final race in which the medals will be decided. There was divided opinion on the issue and a proposal to support submission 025, but a second amendment stating there will be no weighted races, was tabled. Responding to some of the doubters in the room, chairman Bjorn UNGER was clear that, 'Change is difficult, but we have to move forward.' It seemed that his words correlated with the views of the majority, as the second amendment was rejected. The Committee will now report to the ISAF Council on the submission, who will make the final decision on the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition Format in their meetings from 10-12 November.

Youth And Team Racing On The Up

Later in the meeting, chair of the ISAF Youth World Championship Sub-Committee Fiona KIDD (CAN) gave a very encouraging report on the state of youth sailing's pinnacle event. The ISAF Youth Worlds has given the sailing world it's first glimpse at a huge number of it's biggest legends, with names such as Russell COUTTS (NZL), Ben AINSLIE (GBR), Robert SCHEIDT (BRA) and Chris DICKSON (NZL) amongst the previous gold medal winners.

Fiona KIDD gave a glowing report on the 2005 Championship in Busan, Korea, noting in particular the success of the Asian nations, with Conference hosts Singapore winning their first ever gold medal thanks to Wee Chin TEO and Terence KOH in the 420 boys event. The Events Committee also supported the recommendation from the Sub-Committee for the bid from Buzios in Brazil to host the 2009 ISAF Youth Worlds, subject to Council approval and final contract arrangements.

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The 420 medal winners at the
successful Youth Worlds in
Korea celebrate
© Peter Bentley
Chair of the ISAF Team Racing Sub-Committee Chris AITKENS (GBR) gave a very positive report on the recent Grey Goose ISAF Team Racing World Championship, saying, 'The event really embodied the sport of team racing. It was fun, it embodied learning and the entries were packed full of youth teams.'

The Committee later took a first look at the ISAF World Cup proposal detailed in submission 091. The proposal is to use the existing ISAF Grade 1 events to create a sailing tour for the Olympic classes in the form of the ISAF World Cup. After a short discussion, the submission received unanimous approval from the Committee.

The Committee were also presented with the latest details on the ISAF Centenary in 2007, when the Sail the World Festival on 1-2 September and the Sailor of the Century Awards on Saturday 1 September 2007 will take centre stage.

In The Offshore World

Also meeting today were the ISAF Offshore Committee, who gave their support to submission 102 on Yacht Club Costa Smeralda hosting the 2006 ISAF Offshore Team World Championship. Submissions 104 through to 111 brought about lively debate on the Offshore Special Regulations, whilst submission 042 on Small Boat Safety Recommendations again received the Committee's support.

The Committee then received a series of reports, first from the Special Regulations Sub-Committee, the Oceanic Sub-Committee and the Empirical Handicap Sub-Committee, followed by the handicap systems, the IMS, IRC and ORC Club and then from the International Regulations Commission.

Finally the ISAF Constitution Committee also met in the morning to conclude their agenda.

First Council Meeting On Friday

Tomorrow, Friday 10 November, sees the opening meeting of the ISAF Council, the final decision making body of ISAF. One of the list items on the Agenda will be the ISAF Strategic Plan - the first step in achieving ISAF's vision, which focuses on nine top level Objectives:

  • Sailors
  • Participation
  • Media
  • Race Officials
  • Governance
  • Accessibility and Equipment
  • Events
  • Finance
  • Environment

Thursday's meeting will mainly receive reports from various areas of the sport, before heading into the consideration of the more than 150 submissions on Friday, when the Conference looks set to really heat up.

For all the news on the ISAF Annual Conference CLICK HERE.

ISAF. Image, The Olympic Sailing Competition Format was up for debate today in Singapore:© Clive Mason/Getty Images
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