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24 November 2003, 03:28 pm
Olympics are Different
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The President Speaks

It is essential that everyone faces the fact that the Olympics are unique.
Every time ISAF faces the challenges of the Olympic Regatta and alters the regulations the sailors react either positively or negatively according to their own experience level or bias.

The following are some of the ways the Olympics are different from the normal regattas everyone competes in:

Happens once every 4 years Intense Media involvement
23,000 Media 2000 Volunteers
Very Nationalistic ISAF responsible for all Technical
IOC picks the venue IOC and NOC involvement
NOC selects the athletes MNA's only recommend
Security intense Limited accreditation
Venue Open for 4 weeks, with venue access limited Everything on site free to sailors
Large spectator fleet Large number of coach boats
Classes are the equipment Class rules do not govern
Intensive measurement Random measurement daily
ISAF controls all racing 2 ISAF Pros on each course
28 ISAF Judges On-the-Water Rule 42 Judging
12 Days of racing Only 2 races a day (except 49er)
Limited number of countries Only 1 boat per country
Sailors limited to 400 35% Women
11 Events Men, Women and Open Events
Two Test Events Extensive venue
Dope testing daily No Drop Race
Mark by Mark reporting No coaches electronics
Coaches corralled Coach boats responsible for teams
Large country flags on sails Large country letters
Large National team support Controlled media access to sailors
Completely equipped containers Accommodation/Food provided

There are several other issues which make the Olympics unique. The sailor's results in the Olympics Games is usually the springboard to a productive professional sailing career. The Olympics are also important to the MNA's as it usual dictates the level of government or NOC funding. Therefore the Olympic pressures are severe.

Another issue that must be addressed is the need to ensure that there is no altering of sails after measurement. All sails should be impounded after each race and there should be no sewing machines allowed in team containers.

The Olympics Games are a media event and ISAF must compete against 28 other sports for the media exposure ensuring that this challenge is met. This is reality.

ISAF must diligently tighten their regulations so as to ensure that the "Olympic Scandals" which have impacted other sports do not happen to sailing. ISAF must err on the side of ensuring that not only is it clean but appears to be clean. ISAF must act immediately to the Olympic pressures as they arise and cannot defer to four year cycles.

If those restrictions put stricter restraints on the sailors than they are used to then that is the price they must pay to be Olympians. The same holds true for Classes who choose to be Olympic.

Non-Olympic Sailors should realise that their classes or events need not be impacted by the regulations required to ensure Fair Sailing and the integrity of the Olympic Regatta.

They must choose for themselves how they sail. ISAF sets very wide guidelines so as they can enjoy sailing as they wish.


Paul Henderson
ISAF President

Paul Henderson
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