Saturday's opening meeting of the ISAF Council, the final decision making body of ISAF, focused on financial issues, submissions and event matters.
However, for all gathered, the key focus was on the selection of events for the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition which has caused intense debate.
The ISAF Executive Committee had put forward a submission to give Council the opportunity to consider again their decision from November 2007 on the selection of events for 2012. A submission which demonstrates the democracy of ISAF, and the flexibility and open-mindedness the organization has in ensuring the interests of the sport prevail.
In addressing the Council, the ISAF President commented, "First let me say I deeply regret the divide this debate has caused in ISAF and the sailing community. It was not an easy decision in November 2007 and it will not be an easy decision today. I don't want to lose the multihull from the Olympic Programme, nor the windsurfer nor the keelboat or any event. I don't want to say goodbye to any event or class. But ISAF was requested by the IOC to reduce the Olympic events by one for the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition. Some group will be disappointed. However, no event is in or out of the Olympics forever."
In debate around the table, Council members presented their arguments on what they felt was the best outcome for sailing. Concern was also expressed at the level of negative personal attacks made against ISAF and ISAF Council members in publications, blogs and websites since the decision taken in November 2007.
The first step in the proposal, to "reaffirm their decision on the 2012 Olympic Events made in November 2007" was not carried. Council then proceeded to the next two proposals in the submission, to vote on whether the selected events for either the men's or women's events should be changed. Standing by their decision of November 2007, the Council gave a clear message to support the events as already approved, with neither proposal securing the two-thirds majority required to change.
Therefore, the Council decision taken in November 2007 remains and the events on the Olympic programme for the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition are:
|1 person dinghy
||1 person dinghy
|2 person dinghy (high performance)
||2 person dinghy
|2 person dinghy
||Keelboat (match racing)
|1 person dinghy (heavy)
Speaking after the Council decision, Olympic athlete and President of the International Tornado Association, Carolijn BROUWER (NED) commented, "The multihull sailors had lost some faith in ISAFs direction on the Olympic events, but after today's decision where more than 50% of the Council did not reaffirm the November decision, it feels a little bit like an apology. There is a glimmer of hope. Listening to the debate, we are confident the multihull event will be back on the Olympic programme in the future and the multihull community will work with ISAF to achieve that objective."
The latest member of the ISAF family was welcomed with the approval of Iran as an ISAF Full Member, bringing the total number of ISAF member nations to 126.
Endorsing ISAFs commitment to gender equality across the sport, the revised Terms of Reference for the Women's Forum were approved, which further enhance the significance and work of the forum, alongside giving the Chair of the Women's Forum the right to make submissions.
Changes to the ISAF Equipment Rules of Sailing 2009-2012 were approved, which will come into effect on 1 January 2009, to coincide with the implementation of the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing 2009-2012.
The Election Committee, who will oversee the election of the President and Vice-Presidents at this year's General Assembly in November 2008, was approved, with the ISAF Presidents of Honour, His Majesty King Constantine (Chair) and His Majesty King Harald V of Norway, joined by Peter SIEMSEN (BRA) and John TINKER (CAN).
The ISAF World Cup is now firmly on course to become a reality, with the announcement to Council that all event organizers have signed the memorandum of intent and that a management company has partnered with ISAF. Set to launch in 2009, the ISAF World Cup will include the following existing events, together with an event in the country to hold the next Olympic Games:
• Sail Melbourne
• Rolex Miami OCR
• Princess Sofia Trophy
• Semaine Olympique Française
• Holland Regatta
• Kiel Week
The ISAF World Sailing Championships
, which sits alongside the ISAF World Cup, as ISAF's pinnacle events for Olympic sailing, will be held every two years, with effect from the earliest in 2013.
The first Youth Olympic Games being held in Singapore in 2010 will see sailing on the programme for athletes in the age range of 15-16. ISAF has received bids from eight dinghy and two windsurfing manufacturers to supply the equipment for the four events - girl's and boy's single person dinghy and girl's and boy's windsurfer. The selected equipment will be announced by the end of July 2008. With 100 athletes participating, ISAF is targeting participation from 52 nations.
This morning, the ISAF Council and Events Committee will visit the venue for the Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Competitions. The Paralympic sailors are currently finalizing their preparations for this summer, with the first day of racing at the Qingdao International Regatta starting today.
For more on the ISAF Mid-Year Meeting, including schedules, papers and the latest news, visit www.sailing.org/meetings.