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2 October 2002, 04:59 pm
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The President Speaks

As we approach the ISAF November Conference, from 8-16 November, it is essential to focus on the "Core Business of ISAF". ISAF provides the rules and regulations whereby we can participate and compete in the sport of Sailing.
This means that all aspects which impact "Fair Play" and integrity must be clearly and consistently adjudicated so that the sailors and their coaches know what they can and cannot do.

There are several aspects which must be addressed.

ISAF has over the years endeavoured to have one set of rules for all of racing. This no longer possible except with regard to the fundamental Racing Rules.

ISAF must address the pressures that are being applied by the Professional side of the sport which encompasses the Olympics, America's Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, Match Racing and others where there is a large investment in both time and money.

It is also essential that the sailors who race purely for the love of the game with no financial rewards expected are allowed to compete free from onerous regulations and that they have the flexibility to adapt the regulations to their needs.

The major areas which must be addressed at the "Elite" level are as follows:

1. Measurement
Modern technology has increased the ability for sailors and boatbuilders to circumvent intended measurement rules. This area needs ISAF focus.

The rules are there it will take due diligence by experienced measurers to bring this area of the sport under control and they must use modern technology to measure.

2. Race Management
Most sailors demand good race management as that is what makes for good racing.

A specific area that must be addressed is starting procedures and OCS. There must prevail an attitude that the object is to get a fair and legal start.

Disqualifying several sailors for OCS must not be considered a success.

ISAF must find a way to control the starting line and several concepts must be tried.

There must be a limit on the number of boats on the starting line in major events.

Split fleets are acceptable. Having one starting line with 120 dinghies and over 100 keelboats in Olympic Classes is not acceptable.

The Race Committee should start warning boats who are over the line 1 minute before the gun by radio or simply using loud hailers. General Recalls, except in response to a major windshift, should be considered as a failure by the Race Committee to control the fleet.

If a boat is OCS they should be told immediately and penalised appropriately.

Finding out at the first mark or when a sailor reads the notice board that they were OCS does not make for good or fair sailing. At the top events, ISAF must approve the Senior Race Management Officials. ISAF must provide a standard Notice of Race format and there must be a single scoring system, so as all sailors know from event to event what the regulations are and consistency is achieved.

3. Enforcement of Rules
Under this heading comes Rule 42, checking for wet clothing, weight limits, corrector weights.

All must be done by ISAF judges who are consistent and know the class.

ISAF must endorse what venues are used and that there is a proper and definable method for allocating entries.

4. Doping
This a major problem at elite level in all sports today.

The IOC has started WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, to be responsible for anti-doping issues.

ISAF has two responsibilities here:

- The first is to ensure that what is considered anti-doping be limited to "Performance Enhancing Drugs for Elite Athletes".

- The second is that dope testing and the application of the anti-doping rules are confined to the elite level and do not filter down to the level of sailors who are competing just for the enjoyment of racing. This is a major concern and ISAF has a responsibility to keep this new challenge contained.

When ISAF looks at these areas it becomes clear that ISAF's focus should be the "Fair Play" and integrity of Sailing. Only by putting the issues on the table so as they can be openly debated can ISAF deliver the services required by sailors who go to sea to race.


Paul Henderson
President ISAF

ISAF welcomes your feedback on this article. Please email

Please note that all feedback will be published on the ISAF website, unless the contributor specifically requests otherwise.

Paul Henderson
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