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13 October 2003, 09:44 am
Principal Race Officers
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Paul Henderson© ISAF

The President Speaks

In Cadiz I spent a great deal of time walking through the boat park listening to sailors.
The main topic was that ISAF must control the Principal Race Officers (PRO's) for all Grade 1 events and especially Continental and World Championships for ISAF Classes.

The sailors explained how much time and money they spend going to events and that the local race officials, although eager to do a good job, are not always up to the task.

They are also adamant that good race management, customized to their class, is much more important than any other service including Juries that ISAF must provide. Each class has idiosyncrasies peculiar to the specific class. The Tornado has totally different requirements and understanding than say the Snipe, as does the Laser from the IMS Classes or the Farr 40 from the 49er.

Sailing is no different than any other sport. The competitors know who the good PRO's are and when they see them there the competitors relax. In fact one class stated that most of the protests happen against Race Committees and they are non-existent when the PRO they respect is controlling the race. This was truly evident with the Tornado in Cadiz.

The serious problem is that local Race Officers supported by the nationalistic focus of certain MNA's are doing everything possible to ensure that only nationals of the host country adjudicate at major World and Continental Championships. This cannot happen and is against the ISAF Regulations.

I cannot believe that very high-profile MNA's are demanding that they control the appointments of PRO's and International Juries. This is against all that is proper in sport. The first priority is to give the sailors competent and class specific Race Management free from national bias, or the perception of national bias.

The local Race Officers should be thankful that an ISAF PRO who has the respect of the sailors and is knowledgeable about the unique needs of the class is present to guide the event.

I trust that the ISAF Classes will support the ISAF initiative which ensures that only qualified ISAF appointed PRO's are in charge and that the MNA's are also receptive to this direction. It is not politically acceptable in any sport to allow the host MNA to dictate who will govern the integrity of the event.

ISAF must be involved, with the input of the specific class. It is clearly against the ISAF Regulations for the MNA's to endeavour to be so nationalistic and force their officials on the top level of International Sailing.


Paul Henderson
ISAF President
Paul Henderson
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