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26 January 2005, 10:07 am
Serge JORGENSEN (USA) Takes The Helm
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International Foundation For Disabled Sailing

With effect from 1 January 2005, Serge JORGENSEN (USA) has been appointed as the Chair of the International Foundation for Disabled Sailing.
Retiring after many years of dedicated service Ian HARRISON (GBR) will remain as a member of the IFDS Executive Board.

Serge Jorgensen - Profile

As a hobby and an occupation, sailing has been at the center of my life for many years. Since the age of 4, I have been enjoying the pleasures and challenges that sailing offers. Cruising, racing, coaching, and boat designing and building have provided unique opportunities over the years. Some of my fondest memories include being far off shore with phosphorescence boiling in the wake and stars bright overhead; or planing downwind at 20+ knots hanging from 3mm spectra. From competition to relaxation, from individual triumphs and failures to the satisfaction of being part of a team, my sailing experiences have been tremendously rewarding.

For the past twelve years, it has been an honor to be involved in many aspects of working with sailors with disabilities. I have learned to provide personal care assistance and emergency medical care to sailors with quadriplegia, worked with the likes of Lars BERGSTRUM and Gene HINKEL and learned about accessible equipment and aids, and spent time coaching and sailing against some of the best and most inspirational sailors in the world - from Olympic and Paralympic medalists to people like Christopher Reeves.

In some small way, my efforts have allowed me to give back to the sport in return for some of the personal satisfaction I have received. I have continued efforts in accessible sailing to advance the best interests of the sailors. From encouraging new sponsors and supporters, to giving presentations around the world, to starting and building a local program - I hope that I have contributed to the growth of the sport and have helped enable people to participate at levels previously thought impossible.

Overview of Future Priorities

I envision a time when the independence of 'disabled sailing' may be unnecessary. Instead, the sport will takes its place alongside women's sailing, junior sailing, and masters divisions. Until such time, I expect IFDS will continue to act to protect, provide, and promote:

Protect - the rights and abilities of sailors with disabilities to sail recreationally and competitively;

Provide - a path to move from local to regional to international sailing as desired, opportunities to grow and develop the sport internationally, an equitable playing field for elite competition, access to a network of resources available for use by sailors; and

Promote - the sport and its opportunities to sailors and non-sailors around the world in order to grow the community, encourage new sailors, and enable stronger bonds and relationships with the sport in its entirety, with no distinction among abilities.

In my upcoming term as President of the IFDS, I will continue my commitment to the above. My primary aim is to always serve in the best interest of the sailor. Improvements in sports governance, protocols and procedures will assist sailors in long-term planning and to understand areas such as equipment and event selection, and communication. Expanding the number of committees and people involved in supporting our sport will continue to increase the awareness and recognition that the sailors receive, as well as provide sailors a solid base for them to rely on in areas of functional classification, coaching, accessible equipment, and path development. Formalizing the process of ISAF Member National Authority (MNA) interaction will increase MNA recognition and interaction with disabled sailing and will help to increase the professionalism of the movement.

Along the way, we have work to do on all levels. Grassroots development will require increased efforts in interaction and coordination among volunteers, established programs, sailing centers, manufacturers, and sailors with a broadening range of disabilities. Path development will mean better cooperation between countries and establishing sailing circuits, easy linking between events, and opportunities to unite all of the individual successes around the world. Paralympic competition will continue to require coordination with the IPC, work in the committees and with athletes for adaptations and classification, and work to keep the sport as equitable as possible.

Additionally, of course, we must continue working to better integrate our sport with existing sailing opportunities around the world. There are few if any reasons why sailing needs to be different for people with and without disabilities. If we can promote increased acceptance and awareness at all levels, disability will fade into the background and we will recognize one sport for sailors without regard for physical abilities.

I look forward to the challenge, and I count on everyone interested in moving our sport forward to join in our efforts. As we grow in numbers, recognition, interest, and strength, it will be critical that we focus on the sailors, the opportunities to sail, and the memories that we are creating. We are privileged to know and enjoy a sport where it is possible for friends to sail with friends without regard for limitations of the body. We must make the best of our opportunities and advance the cause of accessible sailing to the world.

Serge Jorgensen/ISAF. Image: © USOC
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