ISAF President of Honour HM King Constantine was also present at the ceremony, along with the Governor of Burgenland Hans NIESSL, Mayor of Neusiedl am See Kurt LENTSCH, whilst theatre and movie star Frank HOFFMANN hosted the ceremony.
The ceremony began with a parade of flags from the 63 nations competing, with local children awarded the honour of carrying in the national symbols.
Following an introduction to the Championship and a welcome message to the Burgenland region from Governor Hans NIESSL, Göran PETERSSON then made a speech of welcome before opening the ISAF World Sailing Games.
The President's opening focus was to the sailors, 'I would firstly and importantly like to welcome and thank the sailors who have travelled from around the globe to compete on Lake Neusiedl in Austria.
'For the next 10 days, you will experience some magical moments, full of emotion and passion. Through your participation you share universality with the hundreds of sailors gathered here - all with one goal in mind - sporting excellence.
'But consider the second goal - to have fun. Whilst you are out on the water contesting titles and on shore preparing for the races and spending time with your fellow sailors - remember to enjoy the lifestyle, friendships and fun of sailing.'
|Raising the ISAF Flag
|Local children at the parade of flags
The ISAF President went on to thank the volunteers, 'A final thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who have worked so hard to make this event possible. Some of you are volunteering through your passion for the sport - sailors supporting sailors. Some volunteers come from other sports and some of you are here simply to give your time and be part of this fantastic celebration of sailing. Thank you to all.'
The President's closing remarks before officially declaring the ISAF World Sailing Games open focused on fair play, 'Whilst contesting the World titles, remember that it takes more than crossing the finishing line to make a champion. A champion is more than a winner. A champion is someone who respects the rules, rejects doping and competes in the spirit of fair play.'
With the final thanks given to the Organizing Committee, the villages and yacht clubs of Lake Neusiedl, Burgenland, Austria and the Sailors of the World, the ISAF President announced the 2006 ISAF World Sailing Games open.
Following on from the President's speech the ISAF flag was raised over Lake Neusiedl, and the opening ceremony moved into celebration mode. A medley of folk, contemporary and classical music followed, inspired by the history and culture of the Burgenland. The climax came with a rendition of the World Sailing Games anthem, 'Sail the Wind'.
Sailors, officials and volunteers all crowded into the sailing park at Neusiedl to watch the ceremony, where, ironically enough, only the strong breeze which has made the start of racing so exciting, upset the smooth running of the events.
For all the news on the 2006 ISAF World Sailing Games CLICK HERE.