Every year ISAF gathers its representatives from all over the world to its key decision making process, the ISAF Annual Conference. Around 600 delegates from 50-60 nations are expected in Helsinki, with eleven days of meetings scheduled to cover every aspect of sailing.
Looking ahead to the Conference the President commented, 'As always, I am looking forward to an exciting and challenging debate. Together with the MNAs, Classes, Clubs and sailors, we are the guardians of a very exciting, diverse, global, healthy, dynamic, innovative and lifetime's sport. Through the many decisions ISAF will be taking during the ISAF Annual Conference, we must not only look at the best interests of our sport, but we must be aware of our competition - the other sports, other recreational interests for youth and the wider population. We have to be smart and think smart to ensure the ongoing success of sailing.'
The format of the Olympic Sailing Competition is again set to be a hot topic in Helsinki, along with women's representation in ISAF and class advertising space. During the Conference the ISAF Centenary logo will also be unveiled, whilst the winners of the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards will be announced on 7 November.
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In the first eight days of the Conference, the ISAF Committees, Sub-committees and Commissions will debate and discuss a total of well over 100 Submissions, made to change existing policies or introduce new ones, along with many other items on their respective Agendas.
Based on these discussions they will then make recommendations to the ISAF Council, which is the final decision making body of ISAF. The Conference concludes with three days of Council meetings which will see all the major decisions made which will affect sailing's future. For a more detailed account of the workings of the ISAF Annual Conference and the decision making process CLICK HERE.
With over 100 submissions and 14 Committees, the discussions in Helsinki will cover the full spectrum of the sailing world. However, every year three or four hot topics emerge which spark lively debate across the meeting rooms and across the larger sailing world.
Last year the Medal Race format for the Olympic Sailing Competition took centre stage, and in 2006 the topic is back on the agenda with Submission 089, which proposes to make further changes to the scoring system to increase the importance of the Medal Race. Staying with the Olympic Games, Submission 064 proposes a new media friendly course for the two windsurfing events.
For offshore sailors, Submission 101 will be of particular interest as it proposes to tighten the regulations of classes meeting the definition of Offshore Yachts. For match racers meanwhile, Submission 078 proposes match racing to return to the Olympic Sailing Competition. Funding and sponsorship is of vital importance to sailors worldwide and is an issue addressed at the core of Submission 015. It proposes to allow a provision for advertising space for class sponsors in the Class Rules.
Away from the race course, Submissions 016, 030, 031 and 034 propose methods of achieving a minimum of 20% women's representation on the Council. With the eleven sailing events at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games showing a massive 32% increase in participation by women athletes, the submissions aim to ensure sailing's proud record of participation by women on the water in its governance. Whilst ISAF does currently achieve 20% women's representation, the debate will focus on the regulations governing the process.
Submissions 049-055 cover applications for ISAF Recognized or ISAF International Class Status.
With so many of sailing's top brass gathered together, the Conference provides an excellent opportunity to share experiences and successes from around the world. The two Connect To Sailing seminars on 6-7 November aim to take advantage of this and will this year focus on 'Training - The Golden Key to the Future of Sailing'.
With the help of leading training experts the Connect to Sailing team, led by Project Manager Tim COVENTRY (GBR), have put together a two session programme, with each session lasting approximately two hours and taking place in the morning so as not to clash with any major meetings. For more on the Connect to Sailing seminars CLICK HERE.
Also meeting in Helsinki are the International Association for Disabled Sailing, for their Annual General Meeting on 4 November. Amongst the key items on the agenda are elections for four members of the IFDS Executive Committee.
The ISAF Meetings microsite - www.sailing.org - 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.
For all the news on the ISAF Annual Conference CLICK HERE.