As you may know, every Paralympic Sport goes through a quadrennial review for its future inclusion in the Paralympic Programme. Review factors include excellence in sport, worldwide competition, equity, accessibility, inclusion and athleticism. With great thanks to everyone whose hard work and tremendous dedication made it possible, I can announce that Sailing is, for the fourth quadrennium, on the Programme for the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. All IFDS members in good standing will shortly receive an information CD on the 2008 Paralympic Games from the IFDS Secretariat.
In mid-2004, IFDS submitted a request to the IPC for additional events in the 2008 Paralympic Programme. With the advent of new technologies and with the increasing interest in our sport, IFDS saw an opportunity to further showcase excellence in sailing by the addition of a single-person dinghy and a two-person keelboat event in the 2008 Paralympic Programme.
IPC recently completed an intense review of the entire Sports Programme and returned a decision on the 2008 Paralympic Programme. IPC has informed IFDS that the three events on the programme for Sailing will be: the single-person keelboat, the two-person keelboat and the three-person keelboat. The IPC further specified other gender-based quotas that it expects Sailing to meet.
IFDS is fully committed to supporting other events (in addition to the 2008 Paralympic events detailed above) in the coming quadrennium and beyond. With this in mind, IFDS created an Equipment Evaluation Commission (ECC) with members selected for their knowledge, talent, and experience. Members are John Twomey (chair), Gustaf Fresk, Jamie Dunross, Charlie Simpson, and an ISAF representative. The EEC has been charged with evaluating and recommending equipment for all IFDS events, including the various World Championships and the Paralympic Games.
In accord with long-established decisions, equipment for the single-person keel-boat and three-person keelboat will remain the same for the 2008 Paralympic Games. The EEC will recommend equipment to be used in the two-person keelboat. Evaluation criteria and requests to all members in good standing for nominations of applicable equipment will be published and circulated shortly.
In early 2007, the EEC will then begin work to evaluate and recommend equipment for all of the expected 2012 and 2016 Paralympic Events.
This is another step forward for sailing, and sailors. In three short years, 80 athletes in over 30 boats will come together in Beijing to represent thousands more sailors, boats, and disabilities throughout the world.
In the words of Brad Johnson (Bronze Medalist '04) these sailors aren't sailing for themselves - they are sailing for each of us. They are representing their country, their sport, and the all of our accomplishments on an international stage. We will continue to work toward a better sport and a better opportunity for everyone - from the newest sailor to the oldest salt.
Thank you again to everyone that makes it possible for Sailing to enjoy such successes around the world. As we see able-bodied sailing at times struggling to attract new members, accessible sailing continues to explode in the most unlikely places.
IFDS has published a document detailing the Timelines for Event and Equipment Selection and the Decision Making Process.