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8 November 2008, 09:59 pm
Classes and Youth Worlds On Day Three At the ISAF Annual Conference
Racing at the 2008 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship
The events and equipment at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship was up for debate in Madrid today

ISAF Annual Conference 2008
Madrid, Spain

The ISAF Annual Conference got into full swing on day three in Madrid, with the ISAF Classes Committee and Youth Worlds Sub-Committee meetings taking centre stage.
The ISAF Classes Committee gives all ISAF International and Recognised Classes an opportunity to have a direct input into ISAF decision-making, with every ISAF class able to appointment a member to represent them on the Committee. With over 90 ISAF Classes, the Committee brings together delegates from a very diverse background, ranging from the Optimist dinghy designed for young sailors, through to grand-prix style monohulls like the Farr 40 and X-35 and including windsurfers, multihulls and the classes selected a equipment for the Olympic events.
The ISAF Classes Committee consider all Submissions relating to ISAF Classes, however the key topic that dominated the discussion at the meeting this year was the Submission 038-08 from the ISAF Executive Committee, proposing a new Advertising Committee. The proposal for the new Code follows a lengthy review and drafting process from a Working Party set up in 2007, who made their initial report to the Executive Committee in September 2007. Alberto PREDIERI (ITA), the President of the International 470 Class Association, an ISAF Committee member and part of the Working Party, explained the main aim behind the new Code, "We worked on trying to draft a clearer text," he said. He also stressed that the main principal guiding the Working Party, that, "the decision to carry advertising should stay with the competitor."

That said, the new Code also makes provision for certain spaces for 'Class Advertising', a recommendation that the Classes Committee has endorsed in past meetings. However, the space for the Class Advertising has been limited (see the Submission for details) and is only available if a certain set of pre-conditions are met, including approval by a two-thirds majority at the Class General Assembly. In addition the Class Advertising is only required at events where the Class is either the Organizing Authority or has an agreement with the Organising Authority. PREDIERI set out the Working Party's thinking around these limitations.

"The most valuable space in on the sails and the sailors should take value from that space. What we wanted to avoid was to dilute the value of this space by forcing the sailors to carry a class sponsor on the sails that may end with a big conflict with their own sponsors. So we went down to the bow, where it is commonly agreed to have an event sponsor, to make that space available to the class sponsor," he said.

Addressing the issue of the events at which Class Advertising would be required, PREDIERI at first pointed to the complexities of a Code which would have to apply equally to regional, national and international events across all Classes. "We started from the principal that each class does not organize every regatta each year. So we said we'd give the class sponsor a chance to advertise at the events organized by the class, for example the World Championships or European Championships. At this stage it would be really difficult to have the class sponsor on all the regattas the class competes in. It's the best first step for the classes."

Understandably, in the Classes Committee the issue of Class Advertising was hotly debated and there was significant support for increasing the amount of space available for class advertising. Some were in favour of pushing for further increases before approving the Submission, however Committee Chair Jeff MARTIN, appeared to sum up the general mood when he indicated his support for the Submission as a solid step in the right direction, "I believe the change to the regulation does a better job and is part of the evolution of catering to all the different aspects of our sport. It's a development process. It's probably the third or fourth step in the development phase and I'm sure it will go on a step further," said MARTIN.

By the end of the meeting, that view prevailed and the Committee's recommendation to the ISAF Council is to Approve Submission 038-08, although with some amendments to the drafted text which will be published in their Recommendations.

Other issues addressed by the Classes Committee included Submissions 017-08 and 018-08 concerning representation of a member of Olympic Classes Sub-Committee on, respectively, the ISAF Council and the Events Committee and 019-08 concerning representation of a member of the ISAF Athletes' Commission on the Council. The Class Committee's agreed with the recommendations of the Olympic Classes Sub-Committee which had met the day previously, and their recommendation to Council is to approve all three Submissions.

Another well-attended meeting yesterday was the ISAF Youth Worlds Sub-Committee, who are responsible planning, promotion and approval of the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship. First launched in 1971 and run every year since, the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship is ISAF's longest running event and over the past ten years the championship has grown consistently and now regularly attracts well over 50 nations and 200 young sailors every year.

Included in the meeting were a review of the successful 2008 event held in Aarhus, Denmark and reports on the next three championships, held in Buzios, Brazil in 2009; Istanbul, Turkey in 2010; and Zadar, Croatia in 2011. Bids for the 2012 championship were received from Dun Laoghaire, Ireland and Port Ghalib, Egypt, with the Sub-Committee ultimately recommending Ireland as their choice for the 2012 venue, subject to contractual arrangements. The ever-increasing prestige attached to hosting the championship was demonstrated by the five nations intending to bid for the 2013 event: Sweden, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore and Cyprus. The final decision on the 2013 championship host will be made at the Annual Conference next year in Busan, Korea.

This year a number of Submissions have been received to add an additional event to the championship. The Sub-Committee discussed the future strategy of the event and then placed the Submissions in the context of this. Key issues which arose in the debate were the impact of any additional event on strengthening and encouraging youth programmes around the world and its position in an 'Olympic pathway'. The Youth Worlds has produced many champions who have gone on to record great success at the Olympic Games, a notable recent example being Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON (AUS), who won the Olympic gold medal in the Women's 470 in Beijin, just three years after taking the top prize in the 420 at the 2004 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Poland.

Looking at the relationship between the Youth Worlds and the Olympic Games, particularly in the context of events and equipment, Phil JONES, the CEO of Yachting Australia and an observer at the meeting, posed the question, "Are we leading or are we following?"

The Sub-Committees response to this was to state the championship must find the right balance. Firstly all agreed that the Olympic pathway is a key element of the Youth Worlds, but Sub-Committee chairman Fiona KIDD also stressed the championship must remain on the cutting edge, "Our challenge for the future is to target our events and make sure they are what our competitors want to be sailing in their future."

Ultimately, the decision on an additional event at the Youth Worlds will be made by the ISAF Council and all the Sub-Committee agreed they wanted to send a clear and simple message to Council as to their view on the championship's expansion. Based on this, they supported the approval of Submissions 101-08 and 105-08, which would see an additional Open Two Person Dinghy event added to the Youth Worlds, with the 29er used as equipment (with the 420 as equipment for the Boy's and Girl's Two Person Dinghy events).

In conclusion, KIDD said the fact the Sub-Committee were discussing expansion was a sign of the success and the growth of the championship. In this respect, she pointed towards the vital contribution of the championship's title sponsor Volvo, and also the support of the boat manufacturers who provide the equipment at the championship each year.

"We have been changing and evolving the championship over the past eight years and we must continue this with the championship. This event has become the pinnacle youth sailing event in the world. It is second to none. In the future it will continue to produce our sailing heroes of the future," KIDD added in conclusion.

Also meeting today were the four Sub-Committees of the Race Officials Committee: the International Judges Sub-Committee, the International Umpires Sub-Committee, the Race Management Sub-Committee and the International Measurers Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committees will pass their recommendations on to the Race Officials Committee, who hold their meeting on Monday. Another key element in the Sub-Committee meetings is to complete the process of Race Official applications and renewals for 2008.

The ISAF Executive Committee also completed their third day of meetings in morning. In the evening, the Women's Forum brought together all the female members who are present on ISAF Committees.

ISAF Meetings microsite - www.sailing.org/meetings

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