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ISAF - what will it take to turn??

by Sail Juice.com and Sail-World on 8 Mar 2008
5700 sailors have signed, supporting the inclusion of a Multihull Event at the 2012 Olympics © Richard Gladwell www.richardgladwell.com

'My old friend John Fisk, who was the Chairman of the IYRU's Multihull Committee, toiled for years to get the Tornado into the Olympics. Johnny will be turning in his grave right now, at the Disgrace that happened in Cascais, last November'.

Fighting words from the doyen of yachting journalists, Bob Fisher at the opening of the 2008 World Championships in Takapuna two weeks ago.

'Johnny's not with us any more,' added Fisher. 'He was a General. I'm only a foot-soldier, but I'm going to work at it. We're going to have the Tornado back in the Olympics!'

Elsewhere Sail-World.com has reported the large 5700 signature petition to the International Olympic Committee asking for the Multihull Event to be included in the 2012 Olympics.

The publication of the Minutes of the ISAF Executive Committee Meeting held in Geneva in February showed just how flexible the sport's administrators can be - if the occasion suits.

In one paragraph the decisions made last November on the subject of the Olympic Events are declared to be made properly and are closed.

Then comes the closing shot:

(vii) The Executive Committee considered the importance to the Sport, the Athletes, and the Administrators, of the reliability and timeliness of decision making by Council.

What about the need to get a decision right? And if a mistake has been made, how about revisiting the issues and giving proper reconsideration?

Then several items later, the Executive Committee looked at the Equipment for the 2012 Olympics and found that the same Regulations which had been quite adequate to shut down the debate on the Olympic Events issue were somewhat lacking, and that Urgent Change was required to give the organisation some sea-room.

Decision
- The Executive Committee will submit urgent submissions to the 2008 Mid-Year meeting to deal with the specifics of the equipment selection for the Women’s Match Racing Event for the 2012 Olympic Sailing Committee. The first submission is to change Regulation 16.1 to state: ‘With the exception of the Women’s Keelboat (Match) Event, only International Classes shall sail in the Olympic Sailing Competition. The second submission is to change regulation 16.1.2 to state: ‘With the exception of the Women’s Keelboat (Match) Event submissions for Equipment for the Olympic Sailing Competition shall be made in accordance with Regulation 1 etc.

- The issue around the selection of equipment, format and qualification for the Women’s Match Racing Event is to be determined by Council based on submissions and recommendations of the relevant ISAF Committees.


To recap on the November Council meeting, the Council ignored the recommendations of its Events Committee, selected a Womens match racing Event without knowing the format of the competition or how qualification would work.

Now they find they are too constrained by the regulations which restrict Equipment to certain specified international classes, and want to throw the door wide open.

Running the Executive Committee decisions together it should evident to most that a serious error was made in November, which can't be fixed with a series of regulatory band-aids.

But maybe the realisation that soon after having exited the Council meeting in November, the Councillors will be up for re-appointment by their National Authorities and Regions. Maybe the desire to live for another day will have a salutary effect.


Andy Rice of SailJuice.com gives his view of the ISAF Executive Committee's deliberations:

Last week’s ISAF Word of the Week was URGENT. Didn’t we have fun with that one! This week’s ISAF Word of the Week is CLOSING. Early signs suggest this week’s word will be even more popular with the SailJuice readership.

Below is an excerpt from Item 7 of the Minutes from ISAF Executive’s meeting in Geneva last month. You can download the full Minutes by http://www.sailing.org/22372.php!clicking_this_link

(iii) The Executive Committee noted:
• Only urgent submissions may be considered at a mid-year meeting
• It is for the Executive Committee alone to decide if a submission is
urgent

(iv) The selection of events for the 2012 Olympic Games had been made by
Council in accordance with the Regulations, closing the matter and
forwarding the decision to the Committees and Secretariat for
implementation.


Published two days ago, this clause has not gone unnoticed by SailJuice readers, with some of you having already posted your response to this. I’m just back from a trip to Lanzarote to see the Ericsson Racing Team’s preparations for the Volvo Ocean Race, hence the lack of posts here recently, but thanks to those of you who have kept the fires burning at SailJuice in the Comments section these past days.

The published Minutes from ISAF Executive’s February meeting in Geneva suggests ISAF Executive is not prepared to entertain any further discussion about the 10 Events decided for the Olympic Regatta in Weymouth 2012. Item 7 suggests a few people are burying their heads in the sand and hoping the problem will go away. In the current climate of unrest, this seems like rather wishful thinking.

What Nick Dewhirst said…

Nick Dewhirst of the UK Catamaran Racing Association sent an email to SailJuice on the subject:

Item 7 (c): ISAF Executive now appears to have boxed itself into the following corner. Having unambiguously declared this is not urgent (7 (c) (v), and gratuitously confirmed that the matter would have been urgent had it not already been decided (7 (c) (vi)), it concluded that the matter was now closed (7 (c) (iv)), implying that it is off the agenda both for the Mid-Year Meeting (as not urgent) and November Meeting (as closed). There is no misunderstanding this as the minute continues “and forwarding the decision to the Committees and Secretariat for implementation”.

However a matter is not closed until the deadline for appeals has passed and if there are any valid appeals, then it is not closed until these have been resolved. Most organisations have appeal processes and indeed so does ISAF. For example the deadline is 21 days for its Anti-Doping Regulation. Indeed there is a specific appeal process for this issue, in Regulation 16.1.3 (b). Importantly no deadline exists. It refers to another vote by Council and the next meeting is the Mid-Year Meeting, barring an Extraordinary Meeting, for which there is no requirement in 16.1.1 (b) relating to Events selection.

Now I am not a lawyer, but my experiences of dealing with UK law tends to confirm common sense plain-English interpretations of what words mean. Imagine holding a prizegiving, knowing that a formal Protest has been lodged but not yet heard, let alone decided!

It seems the Executive is intent on denying members their constitutional right of appeal.

Strong stuff from Nick, but then as an unabashed multihull fanatic, to borrow that saying of Mandy Rice-Davies [no relation, I hasten to add]: “Well, he would, wouldn’t he!”


What Rod Carr said…

So I got in touch with Rod Carr who, by the very nature of his job as RYA Chief Executive, is required to be circumspect about these delicate issues. What did he have to say?

“It doesn’t seem to take account of the submissions that have already been made, nor have they [ISAF Executive] seen what other submissions there might be. You can’t be clairvoyant. It seems a pretty extraordinary thing to say. They could have said, ‘I’d be very surprised if anything stood the test of being urgent,’ but just to say that matter is now closed, that seems odd to me.”

Did Rod think this was how a democratic organisation should deal with these issues?

“I don’t, I don’t, and the other thing is that we know match racing is not closed. We know there are technical issues about the match racing. Everyone knows there are issues about how you qualify, what sort of boats are going to

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