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12 November 2008, 06:55 pm
Events Committee Focus On Olympic Equipment At ISAF Annual Conference
The ISAF Events Committee meeting in Madrid
Collecting ballot papers at the ISAF Events Committee meeting in Madrid

ISAF Annual Conference 2008
Madrid, Spain

The ISAF Events Committee held their meeting during day seven of the ISAF Annual Conference, with the Olympic Sailing Competition, qualification for the ISAF Sailing World Championships, the Youth Worlds and the upcoming ISAF Sailing World Cup all key topics addressed.
Following discussion and recommendations in the Match Racing, Women's Sailing and Equipment Committee meetings earlier in the week, the Events Committee approached the selection of equipment for the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition head on. Whereas the other Committees all have an area of expertise which means they approach the equipment selection from a certain perspective, the Events Committee is directly tasked with recommending to the Council the classes to be used at the next Olympic Games.

All the recommendations from different Committees will be collated and compiled tonight ready for the start of the ISAF Council meeting, which begins tomorrow and continues through until Saturday. The key decisions on Submissions and Olympic equipment are scheduled for Friday.

In looking at the Olympic equipment, the Events Committee followed the same procedure in selecting the equipment as the Equipment Committee. This was based upon the shortlist of equipment (drawn up from Submissions received) and the voting procedure agreed by the ISAF Council at the ISAF Mid-Year Meeting in May (see Tuesday's report for full details). Most of the discussion centred around the choice of equipment for the Women's Two Person Dinghy and the Women's Keelboat Match. The vote in the remaining eight events followed the votes of the Women's Sailing and Equipment Committee to select equipment used at the 2008 Olympic Games.

On the topic of the equipment for the Women's Two Person Dinghy, the choice was between the 470, equipment at the Olympic Games ever since the Women's Two Person event was introduced in 1988 and the 29er XX, a skiff from the same designer as the 49er successfully introduced at the Games in 2000.

Several Committee members spoke in support of the 29er XX as a move to develop the sport and create a new pathway for young female sailors.

Carolijn BROUWER (BEL) acknowledged concerns about upsetting the balance of the current Men's and Women's 470 events, but supported the 29er XX as a way to develop the Olympic programme, referring to the introduction of the 49er at the 2000 Games. "I believe there is a chance to move forward here with our sport," said BROWER "There is a very strong demand from women in sailing with a high performance dinghy as there was in the men when they introduced the 49er," she added.

Adrienne GREENWOOD (NZL) spoke in favour of maintaining the 470 as equipment until an overall strategy was in place, "Constant change is not always a good thing," she said. "Keep the status quo until we can go forward with a new strategy and a new path forward."

Fiona KIDD (CAN) added her support to the 29er XX, referring to young sailors who competed in the 29er class when used at the 2007 and 2008 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, "This is next generation of sailors in our sport and they need to go somewhere or we'll lose them," said KIDD.

Committee member, John CREBBIN (IRL) said the Committee must take a long-term view, "It is our task to look towards the future and to make our judgement according to what we think is best for future."

A very close vote followed, with the 29er XX prevailing by a narrow margin.

The Committee then moved on to the decision of the Women's Match Racing event. As in the Match Racing Committee, most of the discussion focussed around the timing of the selection of the equipment, with two views prevailing.

The first was summarized by Committee member, Kim ANDERSON (DEN), "The idea of choosing match racing as a format is that we were choosing a none-equipment driven event." Olivier BOVYN (FRA) added, "Adaptability is at the very essence of what match racing is. To keep a boat secret up until the last minute is probably impossible, but to delay the decision is not."

The opposing view stated that the equipment should be selected now to help sailors and nations in their planning and preparation for the event.

"We're all agreed match racing is not equipment driven, but let's not take that too far," said Chris ATKINS (GBR). "The sailors want to know and want to start developing the skills that will get them to the World Sailor Awards dinner in four years time. Tell the sailors the criteria by which they will be judged. The alternative is to say there is no guidance and I don't think that's a service to our sport. "

In another close vote, the Events Committee decided in favour of delaying the selection of match racing equipment, recommending the approval of Submission M04-08.

This gave the following result:

Ballot 1: Women's Windsurfing - RS:X
Ballot 2: Men's Windsurfing - RS:X
Ballot 3: Women's 1 Person Dinghy - Laser Radial
Ballot 4: Men's 1 Person Dinghy - Laser
Ballot 5: Men's 1 Person Dinghy (heavyweight) - Finn
Ballot 6: Women's 2 Person Dinghy - 29er XX
Ballot 7: Men's 2 Person Dinghy - 470
Ballot 8: Men's 2 Person Dinghy (high performance) - 49er
Ballot 9: Women's Keelboat Match - equipment decision to be made at a later date
Ballot 10: Men's Keelboat - Star

Following this set of decisions, the Events Committee went on to vote on Ballot 9. The vote was cast so the Events Committee could pass a recommendation on to Council, if in the Council meeting they do not decide to postpone the equipment decision for women's match racing. In this case, the Events Committee voted in favour of the selection of the Elliott 6m by a large majority.

Olympic Games - Non Equipment Issues

Looking at Olympic Sailing Competitions beyond 2012, Committee Members Phil JONES (AUS) introduced Submission 082-08, which proposes a review of ISAF Strategy towards the Games, specifically by revising the roles and terms of reference of the Olympic Advisory Commission. JONES made a short presentation highlighting ISAF's revenue streams and their close relation to the Olympics and the success of sailing's TV performance during the Games. He proposed a much more business-orientated approach to future decision-making, "If we have a strategy, out of that strategy will follow a work plan and it is that that should drive the work of our Committees," explained JONES.

The Events Committee followed in the steps of the Equipment Committee yesterday and strongly recommended approval of the Submission.

The qualification system for the 2012 Games was also endorsed by the Events Committee. The proposal is to follow the qualification system used for the 2004 and 2008 Games, with 75% of national places decided at the 2011 ISAF Worlds and the remaining 25% at the 2012 Class World Championships (or Continental Championships if approved by ISAF). The Events Committee will pass their recommendation on to the Council who will make the final decision.

ISAF Events

Following on from the decisions relating to the Olympic Sailing Competition, the Events Committee received reports on the progress of the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships and the up-coming ISAF Sailing World Cup.

The ISAF Sailing World Cup will launch at Sail Melbourne in December 2008. It will bring together seven events across Oceania, North America and Europe, with sailors scoring points at each event to count towards their overall World Cup Standing. Committee chair Bjorn UNGER (SWE), also a member of the World Cup Working Party, explained the aim was to build the series up, working under the collective banner of the ISAF Sailing World Cup to enhance the individual strengths of each of the World Cup events. "The intention is that we gradually grow this series. We want it to become a platform for sailors," said UNGER. More on the ISAF Sailing World Cup can be found at www.sailing.org/isafsailingworldcup.

The 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships will take place in Perth, Australia in December 2011. John LONGLEY, event director for the Championships, gave an overview of the some of the key aims of the organizers, "We want to make sure that, in terms of the venue, the event is very compressed, to make sure we are able to have an event that will have a soul. In addition, we are aiming to have a very public aspect to the championship. We want an event that is not just attractive to the sailors, but to the public as well."

LONGLEY also said the Championships are working with the organizers of the London Olympic Games to ensure the sport achieves a high-level of consistency, "We're in the early stage of working closely with Weymouth. We see the test event in 2011, our event, and the Olympics having a similar look and a similar feel."

He also revealed plans for a fund to assist developing nations, both in their preparations for the event with a series of training camps and in costs related to attending the event.

The Committee also heard a report from the ISAF Youth World Championship Sub-Committee. Following a review from the 2008 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship, Fiona KIDD explained the Sub-Committee's recommendation to add an Open High Performance Dinghy - 29er event to the championship, "I believe it's reflecting what's happening around the world in MNA development programmes," KIDD said.

The Events Committee followed the recommendations of the Sub-Committee and will pass their recommendation onto Council to approve Submissions 101-08 and 105-08.

Also meeting in Madrid today were the ISAF Constitution Committee and the ISAF Offshore Committee.

ISAF Meetings microsite - www.sailing.org/meetings

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