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The Match Racing Committee meeting drew a big audience in their meeting room, including reigning ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion and the 2007 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Claire LEROY (FRA), and Olympic gold and bronze medallist Sofia BEKATOROU (GRE). The ISAF Council selected the Women's Match Racing Keelboat as one of the 10 events for the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition last November, and this year the Match Racing Committee were focussed on items following on from that decision.
The key topics in the meeting were the selection of the equipment for the event and the timing of that selection. The ISAF Regulations require that the equipment for the Olympic Games is selected four years in advance at the Conference. However Deferred Submission M04-08 from the ISAF Executive Committee gives provision for this decision to be delayed. ISAF Vice-President David KELLETT (AUS) explained, "We put in M04-08 to give total flexibility, so we're not tied in if we decided we wanted to delay the decision on the equipment. We then asked a Working Party of experts to come up with a solution to the equipment issue, which resulted with Submission 095-08."
In a lively debate, that brought forward the opposing ideas of: 1. naming the equipment as late as possible to keep to the traditional match racing structure of using different equipment around the world and; 2. selecting the equipment now to allow nations to begin developing their national programmes with the security of knowing the equipment that will be used. The debate boiled down to a vote on whether or not the Committee believed the equipment should be selected in November this year and it was the latter view that prevailed, by a narrow margin of four votes to three.
The Committee then moved on to look at the choice of equipment. Dina KOWALYSHYN (USA) presented the views of the Working Party who drafted Submission 095-08 to the Committee. "We endorse the view that supplied equipment is firmly a part of the match racing discipline and that should continue to be the case," KOWALYSHYN explained. She went on to say the Working Party had spent most of its time looking at the equipment currently available on the market and the Elliott 6m, already used widely in match racing events in Oceania including at the 2008 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship in Auckland, was their top choice, although with some modifications to the current boat.
Together with the Elliott 6m, representatives from the Laser SB3, Sonar and Yngling classes also all gave presentations on their equipment. However, it was the Working Party's recommendation that received the support of the Committee, who will pass their recommendation on to Council to approve Submission 095-08.
In the Windsurfing Committee meeting, the London Olympic Games were once again a key focus. On the subject of equipment for the Men's and Women's Windsurfer events in 2012, the Committee's recommendation was to select the RS:X equipment used for the first time at the Beijing Games. In making their decision, the Committee pointed to solid base the class has now established and its wide spread across nations.
The Windsurfing Committee also made a strong statement in support of kiteboarding joining the ISAF family. They supported application of the International Kiteboarding Association for status as an ISAF International Class and also recommended the approval of Submission 175-08, to add a representative from the kiteboarding community to their Committee.
Away from the discussion on the elite Olympic arena, another focus today in Madrid was youth sailing and getting more youngsters around the world out on the water and involved in the sport. The Youth and Development Committee met in the morning to discuss policy issues, whilst the Connect to Sailing Seminar in the afternoon focussed much more on a how-to approach.
The Youth and Development Committee approved the Development Plan mapping out the future of the Committee, and gave their support in principal to Submission 031-08 to introduce of a specific budget towards the development of sailing in countries in Category 2 or less, although they recognised a more detailed plan would be required.
The Connect to Sailing Seminar presented the newly-launched ISAF Learn to Sail Training Programme, which was introduced by ISAF President Göran PETERSSON (SWE).
"The publication of the ISAF Learn to Sail Training Programme is an exciting and fundamental step in the provision of educational material to support the development of sailing around the world. It is ISAF's role and responsibility to enable the transfer of knowledge," said the President. "The Programme is primarily targeted at those countries with small training programmes or no current provision. I am very pleased that as a sport we are sharing our knowledge, with the MNAs with well established learn to sail training programmes and other initiatives, supporting the developing nations," he added.
Amongst the discussions at the Class Rules Sub-Committee meeting were how to improve the Rolling Agenda for implementing Class Rules changes to enhance the service for ISAF Classes. The Recommendations from their meeting will now be passed on to the ISAF Equipment Committee when they meet on Tuesday. Other Committees meeting today were the Empirical Handicap Sub-Committee, the Sail Rankings Sub-Committee and the Racing Rules Committee Working Party.
On Monday, amongst the key meetings in Madrid are the ISAF Race Officials Committee, the Constitution Committee and the Regional Games Committee.
ISAF Meetings microsite - www.sailing.org/meetings