There is a new face at the helm of the International Sailing Federation's (ISAF) Secretariat, after Jerome PELS (NED) took over as ISAF Secretary General on 1 January 2008.
Jerome has steadily worked his way through the ranks at the ISAF Secretariat, since joining as Competition Officer in 1997. In the ten years since then he has been involved in all of ISAF's major events, being promoted to Events Manager, then Director of Sailing in January 2002 and Deputy Secretary General in May 2007. He has been appointed as one of ISAF's Technical Delegates, responsible for the overall running of the sailing competition, at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games.
Jerome has had a lifelong involvement in the sport, coming from a family of sailors in Gouda, the Netherlands. Since starting sailing aged 6, he has been involved in practically every aspect of the sport, from racing to media, administration, coaching and competition management. Jerome replaces Arve SUNDHEIM (NOR), who retires after almost 12 years in the role of ISAF Secretary General.
Jerome said: "It is both with honour and with great anticipation that I start 2008 as the ISAF Secretary General. With the Olympic Games in Qingdao it looks set to be a fantastic year for sailing and I am greatly looking forward to the challenges and opportunities my new role will bring. After ten years at ISAF I am well aware of the dedication and commitment of the people involved in our federation and I am looking forward to helping them take our sport forward."
Jerome's involvement in sailing began long before he joined ISAF; he is genuinely a lifelong sailor, coming from a family of Olympic sailors in Gouda, the Netherlands. As well as competing regularly, he also used to take photographs for his father, who was a sailing journalist for the Dutch publication Waterkampioen. It was on one of these assignments that he says his real passion for the sport began, when, aged 13, he listened to Dennis CONNER (USA), multiple World Champion and America's Cup winner, being interviewed by his father at the 1977 Star Worlds in Kiel.
After sailing in the Optimist, Laser Radial and Europe classes, he turned to coaching as a sideline to support his education whilst studying Law at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. During this time he became involved with some of the leading young names in Dutch sailing, and, after qualifying as a lawyer, joined the Koninklijk Nederlands Watersport Verbond (KNWV) in 1989 as Head Coach for the Netherlands Olympic Yachting Team. After initially agreeing to take over the post for one month, he stayed on to coach the team at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona where the Netherlands won a bronze medal in the Lechner event. Following the Barcelona Games, he became High Performance Director for the KNWV, eventually leading the Dutch sailing team to its best Olympic medal tally since the 1936 Games, winning silver in the Europe and bronze in the Finn at Savannah in 1996. It was in Savannah that he met the then ISAF Secretary General, Arve SUNDHEIM.
A couple of days after taking over his new position as Secretary General, Jerome PELS took the opportunity to address some of the key issues facing ISAF at the start of 2008. Amongst the areas he addressed were sailing at the Olympic Games, challenges ISAF faces and his key goals as he takes on his new role.
Click here to read the full interview
To find out more about ISAF, its structure, history and decision making process go to www.sailing.org/aboutisaf.
ISAF Secretariat - www.sailing.org/secretariat.php