The President stressed the need to become a more dynamic sport and a more professional one. 'You cannot have competition unless it is commercially viable and a strong commercial base is needed for our sport,' he explained.
He went on to offer the first of several challenges to the Council, 'We have the many evolving and exciting disciplines of the sport - kite sailing and single-handed offshore sailing. How is ISAF going to support these areas?'
The President highlighted areas where success has been achieved this year: a record breaking Youth Worlds with attendance from 63 nations; China winning their first ever gold medal in the Olympic Classes and hosting a very successful Olympic Test Event; the ongoing success of the ISAF Race Officials programme; and the achievements of Connect to Sailing. Women's sailing is going from strength to strength, with sailing one of the few sports to to achieve the minimum IOC target of 35% women's participation at the 2004 Olympic Games.
However, he did not hide from the fact, and made a point of indicating to Council, that these are just the first steps in addressing the challenges that face our sport.
…And The Challenges
The President said that the IOC have confirmed that for 2012, sailing will have ten Olympic medals and a maximum limit of 380 athletes. The Olympic Arena, 'the pinnacle of global sport', is increasingly competitive. In the President's words, 'ISAF has to respond to the requirements of being an Olympic sport.'
The President emphasized the importance of participation and highlighted the need for action to reverse a trend that has seen the spread of sailing nations represented at the Olympic Games fall from 77 in 1996, to 69 in 2000 and then to 61 in 2004.
And how to achieve these goals? He pointed to the ISAF Member National Authorities as, 'the ambassadors for our sport - the face of sailing who are on the ground delivering the sport.' He continued, 'ISAF must have the ability to partner and ensure that the ambassadors of our sport can deliver.'
'The Olympic Opportunity'
In addressing the problems of participation and in keeping pace with the Olympic Ideal, the President threw the spotlight onto the image of sailing and its standing in the marketplace. 'Right now as a sport we are not maximising the Olympic opportunity outside of the Olympic Games itself,' he explained. 'Tomorrow, we will discuss the World Cup series. Whatever the ultimate format we agree, we all know the sport has to develop a professional and widely recognized world tour.'
Again the President did not shy away from setting out the challenges that lie ahead, 'The image gap between where we are and where we want to be is significant.'
Following on from the President's Report, the Committee Chairs gave reports on their activities over the past year. Tomorrow the members of the Council will cast their votes on over 100 Submissions and take the first steps in meeting the challenges set out before them by the President.
About The ISAF Council
The ISAF Council is the final decision making body of ISAF. It is chaired by the ISAF President Göran PETERSSON (SWE), who was elected along with the seven Vice-Presidents for a four-year term in 2004. Along with the President and Vice-Presidents, the Council also includes the other members of the Executive Committee, Presidents of Honour HM King Harald V of Norway and HM King Constantine (both non-voting). There are also 28 appointed members (representing each of the regional groups of sailing nations), and representatives of the Offshore Committee, ISAF Classes Committee and a Women's Representative.
The ISAF Meetings microsite - www.sailing.org/meetings - contains the Agendas, Supporting Papers and Submission from past meetings, 1997 to date. Via the online Minutes Archive you can access all past minutes of ISAF Committee Meetings from 1993 to date.