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10 November 2008, 08:00 am
Introducing The ISAF Executive Committee
The ISAF Executive Committee at the 2007 Annual Conference
Find out more about the ISAF Executive Committee

ISAF Annual Conference 2008
Madrid, Spain

The ISAF Executive Committee meet at the start and end of every ISAF Annual Conference, are represented in every Committee meeting and are led by the ISAF President - read on to find out more about the role of the Executive...
The Executive is formed by the ISAF President, the two ISAF Presidents of Honour and the seven Vice-Presidents, who are elected every four years by ISAF's Member National Authorities (MNAs). They are responsible for implementing policy decisions made at the Annual Conference and also for the day-to-day management and operations of the International Sailing Federation. In short, the ISAF Council are the decision-makers in ISAF; the Executive are tasked with turning those policy decisions into reality.
However, the Executive Committee do also play a key role in the process of ISAF decision making. Most significantly, the President is chairman of the Council and the President and Vice-Presidents can all cast a vote in any decisions made by Council. Like any other Committee of ISAF, the Executive also consider any Submissions assigned to them and their views are fed through to the Committees and finally to the Council via the recommendations from their meeting. The Executive Committee are also responsible for ISAF's financial affairs, although in this respect they are ultimately responsible and report to the Council.

Every four years the President and seven Vice-Presidents of the Executive Committee are elected at the ISAF General Assembly, which occurs this year in Madrid and will take place on the 15 November. The current ISAF President Göran PETERSSON (SWE) is standing for re-election and is the only candidate for President, whilst there are 13 eligible candidates for Vice-President. You can find out more on the Elections at

The Executive At The Conference

The Executive Committee hold meetings four times a year and are particularly active at the Conference, holding meetings at both the start and the end of the 11-day period. David KELLETT (AUS), who has been an ISAF Vice-President for eight years, explains more on the role of the Executive during the meetings, "All the members of the Executive have responsibility of working with various Committees, making sure the views of the Committees are carried forward to the Executive. The Executive can then act as a central pool where all the policy positions of the various Committees can be considered together. We're also there to support the Chairman of the Committees in the various meetings," KELLETT explains.

Whereas the other ISAF Committees each have their own areas of expertise, a key job of the Executive is to be able to take issues and view them from an overall perspective. For example, the Classes Committee and the Match Racing Committee might approach the same issue from two very different perspectives, but the Executive needs to be able to balance both of these views along with any others. As an Executive member is present on each ISAF Committee one of their key roles during the meetings is to provide this overall perspective when called for.

Each member of the Executive has a designated set of responsibilities, including a particular region and set areas of ISAF Strategy. For example, the ISAF President is responsible for relations between ISAF and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and in this role reports to the ISAF Council at the start of each of their meetings. During their meetings at the start of the Conference, the Executive discuss any Submissions that have been assigned to them and are then able to feed their position on these through to the relevant Committees during the Conference and ultimately through to the Council.

ISAF Commissions

Another important aspect of the initial meetings of the Executive is to hear the reports from the ISAF Commissions. The Commissions are set up to support the Executive in their role and are created specifically to advise on key areas of the sport which require a certain level of technical expertise. They are currently eight Commissions, several of which, including the Athletes' Commission, the Coaches Commission, the Multihull Commission and the Training Commission have all been created recently.

ISAF Secretary General Jerome PELS (NED) explains the reason for the increase in Commissions is to provide more input to the Executive from a task-orientated perspective, "You can establish Commissions much quicker than you can establish a Committee in areas where real work needs to be done. They need a group of people who can help the Executive by providing a more project-based approach. Committees look at issues from policy perspective whereas Commissions are much more focussed on implementation".

Unlike the other ISAF Committees, the Executive meetings are closed sessions and the Committee do not publish their meeting Agendas or Supporting Papers in advance of their meetings, although their meeting Minutes are always published and are available for anyone to view on the ISAF website. PELS says the reason for this difference is because of the Executive's unique role within ISAF, "Compare the Executive Committee meeting to a management meeting of a company. During the meeting they need to discuss and decide on lots of sensitive issues, for examples financial matters and how they want to present the budget and accounts before that information becomes public," PELS explains.

"Another important consideration is that the Executive Committee is the only group within ISAF that is directly elected. They need to have free and frank discussions amongst themselves and not in front of hundreds of other people. What they finally decide is always made transparent; the minutes from their meetings are published as are any Submissions made by the Executive Committee," PELS added.

The new Executive Committee for 2009-2012 will be elected at the ISAF General Assembly on 15 November. Up until that time, the current Executive will fulfil their roles as normal at the Conference. You can view the current members of the Executive here and view the list of eligible candidates for the 2009-2012 Executive here.

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