The Conference objective was to share a race management philosophy and best practices to be applied across the sport, which was achieved through a mix of presentations and workshops.
ISAF President Göran PETERSSON sent a message of thanks to the delegates, "Race Officials are the face of ISAF to so many sailors and I thank you for being ambassadors for our sport, and giving your time in the ongoing development of sailing."
In welcoming delegates and addressing the need for the conference, Chairman of the ISAF Race Management Sub-Committee Henri G C VAN DER AAT (NED) said, "With the increasing professionalism of the athletes, the globalisation of the world and the transparency of our society it is crucial that we are ahead of the game and provide the athletes with the best possible service. The Conference will address some key issues, fundamentally to do with minimising the judgemental calls of race management and ensuring consistency around the world."
The Conference got underway on Saturday morning with the perspective from the sailors - effectively the viewpoint from the customer. Emphasising the communication encouraged by ISAF between sailors and race officials, Olympic gold medallist Sofia BEKATOROU (GRE) and Andreas KOSMATOPOULOUS (GRE) joined the Conference throughout the weekend. giving the sailors' perspective and increasing their understanding of the role of IRO's.
BEKATOROU and KOSMATOPOULOUS were interviewed by Ion ECHAVE (ESP), and addressed a wide range of issues, from personal experiences of the best and worst race management, to addressing suggestions such as holding a general meeting with sailors prior to the first race of competition, or debriefs with sailors each day to discuss the decisions taken and why. The content of Sailing Instructions and their consistency from event to event was discussed, together with their feedback on course formats and durations.
Almost 100 Race Officials
Commenting on the Conference, BEKATOROU said, "This was an excellent opportunity for me to understand the difficulties and challenges that IRO's need to consider and face in race management," before adding that she would like to see "continuing interaction between IRO's and sailors."
KOSMATOPOULOUS continued, "The aim and the result of the conference was really helpful and educational for all parties."
The Conference then split into workshops to address race management issues, which were then presented amongst the entire Conference:
- Start Line
- Starting on time
- General Recalls
- Use of the AP and N flags
- Changes to scheduled races
- Setting the course
- Position of the media
- Changing/Shortening courses
- Finishing and Results
The final afternoon session on Saturday looked at the new Olympic Format and scoring system, together with the application of technology at the Olympic Games, including the use of "track and trace".
Olympic gold medallist Sofia
Sunday got underway with an opening session by Chairman of the ISAF Race Officials Committee John DOERR (GBR), who addressed the role of the ISAF Race Officials Committee and the focus of the Committee to increase the number of race officials and specifically women, attract top sailors to become race officials, improve standards and undertake increased education programmes, together with the race officials reporting process.
DOERR emphasised the benefits of the Conference, commenting, "While modern communications are of great benefit, none replace the value of bringing such a wealth of experience together and learning from each other. The conference is dedicated to raising the standards of race management by sharing and agreeing best practices. Our customers, the sailors, have a right to expect both consistent and first class practices around the world."
The role of the International Race Officer was discussed in depth, before the agenda moved onto the use of technology for course setting and OCS, alongside the benefits to the media and spectators of gathering data from the race course.
ISAF has charged each of the delegates to share the knowledge acquired during the weekend and deliver the message back to their respective nations, to cascade the conference output around the world.
The conference drew to a close with a presentation on "Where is Sport and Rage Management Going?".
International Race Officer Peter REGGIO (USA) commented, 'This has been a great experience to meet other IRO's and share knowledge . IRO's do not usually have the chance to meet as, unlike the judges and umpires, we are by ourselves at events.'
His thoughts were echoed by Rolf ZACHARIASSEN (FIN), 'We all met very interesting people. We had many inspiring discussions and are full of enthusiasm to spread the information. The idea of bringing top sailors into the mix was excellent. Lectures were conducted interestingly and with a chance for dialogue which made them lively.'
Much preparation work went into the Conference and ISAF would like to thank the Conference Co-ordination team of Ion ECHAVE (ESP) - Chair, Marinus BLICKMAN (NED), Tomasz CHAMERA (POL) and Nino SHMUELI (ISR), together with the Chair of the ISAF Race Management Sub-Committee Henri VAN DER AAT (NED) and Chairman of the ISAF Race Officials Committee John DOERR (GBR), along with all the delegates.
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