2008 Olympic Games
Sixty-two nations, 400 athletes, 272 boats, 117 races, 13 days of competition and 33 medals - the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition was a great success and a fantastic experience for all.
I was very proud to see the Medal Race make its first appearance on the Olympic platform. When I took the helm as President four years ago, that was one of my first challenges; to address the need for sailing to be more understandable
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I was delighted to see the achievements of a sailor, Ben Ainslie, being globally heralded by Jacques Rogge with Ben's third gold medal being heralded as "equally fantastic" to the recording-breaking performances of American swimmer Michael PHELPS and Jamaican sprinter Usain BOLT.
My profound thanks to all the ISAF International Technical Officials who volunteered their time and did a superb job, not just during competition, but in the legacy they have left for the future through sharing their knowledge and expertise.
To all of you, thank you for the part you all play in supporting sailing on its Olympic path.
2008 Paralympics Games
The first time inclusion of a third Paralympic sailing event, the two-person keelboat, which mandates a mixed crew saw an impressive increase in women's participation.
Congratulations to the six nations who claimed medals. There was a North American dominance with both Canada and USA at the top of the medal tally with one gold and one bronze each.
I believe we are all indebted to our Chinese hosts who excelled in organizing the Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Competitions.
Other Events And Achievements
2008 opened with the inspiring achievement of Francis JOYON, who took just 57 days, 13 hours, to sail solo, non-stop around the world aboard his 98ft trimaran IDEC. He sliced a staggering 14 days off the record set by Ellen MacArthur in 2005.
A few weeks ago I was in Alicante for the in-port racing prior to the start of the 2008-2009 Volvo Ocean Race. The hospitality in Alicante was outstanding and we must taken heed from the innovations taken by professional event organizers across all disciplines of our sport.
The concept of the Volvo Ocean Race has really developed over the years - with one overriding goal to bring the event to the public and maximise promotional and consequently sponsorship opportunities. Increased stopover ports and more focus on the in-port racing have enhanced the event.
2012 Olympic Sailing Competition
Amongst the many important debates held and decisions taken by the Council, nothing gets more air time than the selection of events and equipment for the Olympics.
Regarding the number of events for 2012 we have, both formally and informally, requested 11 events. We will continue to use all reasonable efforts to pursue this goal despite the previous decision. The events for all sports for 2012 will be discussed by the IOC Programme Commission and then decided by the IOC Executive Board. The time for this decision may not be until the middle of next year but rest assured, we will keep you informed of any developments.
In case of a subsequent positive decision by the IOC, we may have to make a decision on both an 11th event and class in the Mid-Year Meetings in May next year in order to be able to give our sailors as much time as possible to prepare - the Annual Conference in November, in my opinion, will be too late.
What are the chances for an 11th medal?
It is very difficult to judge but I would say we have given it our best.
2016 Olympic Games - Bidding Cities
Over the past weeks, each of the cities bidding for the 2016 Olympic Games have been visited by ISAF Representatives. The cities are:
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
ISAF has very strong relationships in each of the bid cities and I am sure they will all excel, if selected by the IOC in 2009.
As always, it is important to tie down as much of the detail now, whilst the cities are bidding, and not be negotiating once a city has been selected. ISAF has made recommendations to the IOC and of course directly during the site visits and I am confident all of the venues would provide a great Olympic Sailing Competition and a great legacy for sailing.
ISAF Sailing World Cup
The first event on the new ISAF Sailing World Cup will get underway in a couple of weeks time in Melbourne, Australia. The ISAF Sailing World Cup is an event which Olympic sailing and Olympic sailors deserve - to provide a globally recognized tour for Olympic Sailing.
Through a Management Group chaired by Bjorn UNGER, ISAF has worked closely with all the event organizers to develop uniform standards across all areas of the events. However, these are not set in stone and I believe we all have to consider the first year, 2009, as work in progress.
For example, a scoring system has been introduced for 2008-2009, but we know it might not be the final option. Therefore, ISAF will run a number of "shadow" scoring systems alongside, so that a full evaluation can take place throughout the year.
ISAF has sought input from the Athletes' Commission, who represent the elite sailors - they have some excellent ideas and valuable input.
IOC Youth Olympic Games
The Youth Olympic Games will take place in Singapore in August 2010. As you are aware sailing is one of the sports included, and as you will recall from my update in May 2008, ISAF has selected the age range 15-16 years with two events for boys and two events for girls - windsurfer and single-person dinghy respectively.
Education and culture are also key components for this Youth edition. Not only does the education/culture aspect apply to athletes and participants, but also youth around the world.
The Youth Olympic Games will create a true community for young people to participate in sport, to learn, and to share experiences with their peers. Moreover the event would offer an excellent platform to learn what the Olympic values are, what they mean and why they matter today's world.
We are currently developing the qualification system, which will be based on existing events around the world. There will be 100 athletes, and to support a wide spread of nation participation as required by the IOC ISAF will restrict a nation to participating in no more than two events.
I would like to thank the Youth Olympic Games Working Party for their vision and the equipment manufacturers who have worked with ISAF.
ISAF Publications - Rules
As we go into the next quadrennial key ISAF publications are updated, being The Racing Rules of Sailing and The Equipment Rules of Sailing.
The Racing Rules of Sailing are the foundations of ISAF. As part of the benefit of membership all MNAs have been provided with the digital output and have the rights to publish and commercialise the rules within their territories.
Both publications come into worldwide effect from 1 January 2009.
Thank you to all those who have put in hours of hard work, reviewing and changing rules, proof reading and ultimately ensuring fair play prevails.
ISAF Learn to Sail Training Programme
On 30 September, ISAF published the ISAF Learn to Sail Training Programme - a "how-to" programme to aid ISAF Member National Authorities (MNAs) in the provision of a generic national learn to sail programme. The programme is aligned with established training programmes and reflects current best practice.
Hand in hand with the ISAF Learn to Sail Training Programme, during 2009 ISAF will launch an ISAF Accreditation System, which will recognize MNA National Learn to Sail Training Programmes. The ISAF Accreditation System set a global standard for MNAs seeking accreditation and will be based on the contents of the ISAF Learn to Sail Training Programme.