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4 December 2002, 09:54 am
Sailing Himalayan Mountains
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Paul Henderson

The President Speaks

Sailors must realize that Sailing is not a `pyramid' but the `Himalayan Mountains', with many peaks to climb. Some are more difficult, but all are meaningful achievements if scaled.
K2 and Everest are the Olympics and America's Cup, but there are many other events which are significant such as Worlds in the Dragon, 505, Etchells, Optimist, Farr 40 and all the other ISAF Classes and events.

Sailing has a very large spectrum in which the sailor can compete and within that spectrum there are many levels at which the sailor can choose to do so.

Fortunately the average sailor realizes that the America's Cup is a spectator sport for all, but a participation sport for a few as not many of my sailing friends even have the entry fee.

The major problem which is again causing concern is that the ISAF Rules and Regulations that impact the Olympic Classes are being interpreted as affecting the average sailor. They should not. The Olympics have become very rarified and has become dominated by National Teams, coaches and dollars. That is reality and all aspects will escalate.

It is essential that the non-Olympic sailors realize that their autonomy is not being challenged nor are their local events or organizers. I ask that when they read the new Olympic regulations that they do not overreact unless they choose to sail an Olympic Class which by definition incurs very intrusive constraints because of the intensity of the competition which is very nationalistic.

The answer is not to withdraw sailing from the Olympics because many sailors do not want to cope with these pressures, but to allow those who do to fulfill their dreams.

Fortunately there are other sailing mountains to climb which are available. I guess it is analogous to Golf where "Tiger" plays from the back tees and shoots 65 and I play from the front tees and shoot 100, but it most likely more fun for me than it is for him. Enjoy the broad spectrum of sailing at whatever level and in whatever area you choose.

Paul Henderson

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Paul Henderson
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