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12 November 2008, 06:52 pm
Oceanic Integration And Advertising Code At Offshore Committee Meeting
Action from the 2008 ISAF Offshore Team World Championship
Offshore racing was a focus in Madrid today

ISAF Annual Conference 2008
Madrid, Spain

The ISAF Offshore Committee met in Madrid today at the ISAF Annual Conference with Committee chairman Philip TOLHURST (GBR) expanding on the topics discussed including the hotly debate Advertising Code.
As the Events Committee focussed in on Olympic sailing, across the hallway in the Melia Castilla Hotel in Madrid there was a completely different focus at the meeting of the ISAF Offshore Committee.

The Offshore Committee will undergo a major change following the ISAF General Assembly, when it is merged with the Oceanic Sub-Committee to form the new ISAF Oceanic and Offshore Committee (see Submission 125-08). Current Committee chairman, Philip TOLHURST (GBR), who is also Vice President and Technical Chairman of the Farr 40 Class Association, says the change is to reflect the huge growth in Ocean racing events.

"It's a big shift in emphasis because in Offshore we've increasingly recognized the importance of Oceanic racing to the sport as a whole. For example there were 80,000 people watching at the beginning of the Vendée Globe at the weekend and 800,000 people on the site. This is a huge shop window for our sport and we ought to be more involved with it," TOLHURST explains. "At the same time we're still recognizing that we've got 100,000 boats racing under handicap systems that we need to represent."

A major new aspect for the Committee will be the creation an Oceanic panel, formed of a smaller group of Committee members working with the ISAF Secretariat. TOLHURST says this group will be able to act more dynamic and be more pro-active in dealing with event organizers.

Advertising Code

The proposal for a new Advertising Code contained in Submission 038-08 has been a major talking point at this Conference. TOLHURST has been chairman the Working Party, also containing Alberto PREDIERI and
Dan IBSEN, who drafted the proposal. He says that first and foremost, the proposed Code is an attempt to make it a much more user-friendly document, "Probably the most important thing is that when a sailor reads this I think now he'll understand it!" he explains. "It's been a big effort to clean it up. We've also tried to regularize definitions with The Racing Rules of Sailing and The Equipment Rules of Sailing so there's a consistency that flows through the documents. There are also diagrams now which will help sailors know what they can do."

In terms of the regulations themselves, TOLHURST says the principal aim of the Code is to give the sailor the choice over advertising, "The principal changes are that the old Category C and A has all gone and individual sailors have the ability to decide whether they want to carry advertising or not."

Throughout the week the Executive, Constitution, Equipment, Events, ISAF Classes and Offshore Committee have all looked at the Advertising Code, evidence of just how many different parties the Code affects. TOLHURST stressed that although the sailor's ability to decide whether or not they want to carry advertising is crucial, the new Code also takes into account all the stakeholders, "There are four people interested in advertising on a boat: it's the competitors, the class, the event organizer and it's also the MNA. It's striking the balance between those four that has been the challenge."

Expanding on this idea, TOLHURST explains, "Some additional space has been reserved out on the boats for event organizers to try and help them and some space has been reserved for class sponsorship which should help some classes." For national sailing federations and Olympic programmes, additional measurers have been taken to help reduce bureaucracy, "For Olympic sailors, once a class is chosen for the Games, automatically the rules change and it becomes unlimited advertising on the boat which should help the MNAs."

Away from the Olympic arena there are also several key changes, "For offshore sailors there's a greater clarity, with the person in charge being the person who decides what advertising can take place on the boat or not. It also removes the problem of different nationalities on different boats being subject to different rules. So it is now just the nationality of the person in charge that is important," TOLHURST said.

The ISAF Council will make the final decision on Submissions 038-08 and 125-08 during their meeting in Madrid from 13-15 November.

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