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ISAF Presidential candidate David Kellett talks to the sailing world

by Sail-World on 6 Nov 2012
As well as hailing from one one of the most successful nations at the 2012 Sailing Olympics, David Kellett has been the ISAF Technical Delegate to the outstanding 2008 and 2012 Olympics © Richard Gladwell http://www.richardgladwell.com
This week in Ireland, the next President of the International Sailing Federation will be elected.

There are three candidates, one of whom David Kellett (AUS) has run a very open campaign. As it seems that candidates will not have the chance to address the ISAF Assembly, he has released a video address supporting his candidacy, setting out his experience in sailing, administration and the International Sailing Federation.

Kellett is a veteran of 38 Sydney Hobart Races and has been involved in the ISAF since 1991. As well as being the ISAF Treasurer (enabling him to stay on the ISAF Executive Committee during a mandatory stand-down period after two terms as a Vice-President), Kellett has also been the ISAF Technical Delegate to the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. The Technical Delegate is the lynchpin between the ISAF and Olympic Games organisers. Both regattas were an unqualified success.

David Kellett - ISAF Presidential Candidate from David Kellett on Vimeo.



Following is a note sent in early October, by David Kellett (AUS) to all national sailing authorities. Kellett is one of three standing for election to lead the sport of sailing, when the incumbent President, Goran Petersson (SWE) retires at the end of his eight year term. It sets out Kellett's view of the issues facing the sport and his approach to them.

In five weeks, the sailing world will gather in Dublin, Ireland to make a very important decision: Who will lead ISAF for the next four years?

I urge you to attend the General Assembly on the 10th November and cast your vote to ensure ISAF has the best possible team to take it forward.

In earlier correspondence with you, I have given you a background of myself and my passion for the sport of sailing. I am a practical hands-on leader who is very approachable with no hidden agenda. As you can probably gather from my emails and letters, I prepare everything myself and openly express how I feel about matters, no professional presentation, just an honest straightforward approach.

In conversations, email communications and in various ISAF meetings I have heard complaints about aspects of ISAF which concern many of you. These can be categorised into three areas, the Organisational Culture of ISAF; Transparency and Workflow within ISAF and the Future Direction of ISAF.

ISAF Organisational Culture: Kellett will be another four years of the current leadership

In 2008, I had to make a decision to either challenge the current President Goran Petersson or leave the Executive. I chose the latter and was kindly invited to fulfill the role of Treasurer on the new Executive.

For the past four years, I have sat in meetings of the Executive conscious that I was not an elected officer of ISAF and therefore not wishing to interfere with the policy and direction of the organisation. I concentrated on producing the best financial result possible in difficult economic times.

Whilst I had several ideas on how we could improve the structure of ISAF, the last four yours has strengthened my resolve to change the structure of ISAF to be more efficient in today’s world. I can assure you there will be change under my leadership.


Kellett lives too far away

Too far away from where? I live close to the emerging nations in Asia and Oceania. I am currently in Europe on at least five occasions per year. I will be in Europe as necessary and spend several weeks at a time there to fulfil my responsibilities, visiting other areas en-route. I believe in having a competent staff run the ISAF Office, allowing me to spend time representing the organisation to the sport and sailing communities. With modern communications, the distance is minimised.

Anglo-Saxon influence

I have heard many comments over the past four years about the influence of the anglo-saxons in the decision making process within ISAF. I will seek to change that culture and have identified a number of potential candidates for the positions of Chair and Deputy Chair of our core Committees.


Office location: The office location is another area which is causing concern to many MNA’s.

While it would be simple just to say we will relocate the office, we need to undertake any such move in a businesslike manner. Yes, we need a presence in Lausanne to maintain a close association with the other sport federations and most importantly the IOC. I am committed to ISAF having a presence in Lausanne by the end of 2013. I also undertake to carry out a thorough, transparent analysis of the best location for the ISAF Office, to be presented to Council for their decision by the November 2013 meeting.

I am mindful that ISAF is often accused of being too Olympic focused which will be exacerbated by locating in Lausanne. We need an office location to best serve the needs of the sport.

Translation services:

Translation services are required to ensure all Councillors have a clear understanding of the decisions being made. An analysis on the implementation and cost of a translation service to be available at Council meetings will be presented for a decision by Council at the first meeting of Council in 2013.

Respect for work done in committee and working parties

Many times over the past years, qualified committees and working parties of expert people have made recommendations to Council only to have their recommendation overturned. We must ensure that the work of these groups is respected and a full explanation of why the recommendation is made must be given to the decision makers. We must also address the ramifications of the particular decisions so all parties are aware of what their decision will mean.

Effectiveness of structure and process

The decision making process within ISAF is cumbersome and takes an enormous amount of time. I undertake to develop a process that allows for timely and effective decisions to be made whilst maintaining a system of checks and balances. There is a mood for change within the MNA’s and we must not lose that momentum.

It would be easy to suggest we change the organisation to:
- Increase the size of the Executive to 10.
- Hold a General Assembly every year or two years.
- Appoint four major committees of 10-15 members with all other committees reduced to sub-committees who meet via an electronic format, etc.

Yes it would likely be more efficient but will it be the best for our sport?

I will undertake that a revised structure and process will be presented for discussion at Council in November 2013, prior to any decision to change being made. We will work together to achieve the best structure possible.


Stakeholder surveys on a regular basis

In order to measure how the Executive is performing and to permit stakeholders to raise issues in a timely manner, a regular survey will be conducted with the results presented to Council. The first survey will be conducted to ensure the findings are presented early enough to have a meaningful discussion in November 2013.

Involvement of Continental Associations and emerging CA’s.

The role of the Continental Associations is becoming more important in the delivery of sailing. ISAF must also work with the Associations to expand the training of Race Officials and to guide the emerging Continental Association on best practice which will ensure smooth growth. Regular meetings with the Continental Association Presidents and the ISAF Executive will be encouraged.


Transparency and Workflow within the ISAF Organisation

Dialog / communication: I undertake to have regular communication with the Council and stakeholders. Executive members will also maintain a regular dialog/communication with their respective committee chairs.

Background information for decision making process

All decisions must be backed with complete information as to why the decision is necessary and what the impact of the decisions will be. All decision makers must have a good understanding of the matter before it is voted on.

Accessibility to leadership and management

Stakeholders will be encouraged to discuss matters with the President, Executive and the Secretary General. Our contact details are freely available and should face to face meetings be required, leaders will be encouraged to attend.


Strategy / Vision

The current ISAF Strategic Plan needs a great deal of work. We must have a plan that is practical and achievable which will lead to a vision for the sport that is shared and can be delivered. I undertake that the Executive will present a draft of the revised Strategic Plan in November 2013 after discussion and involvement with the various stakeholder members.


Involvement of stakeholder in decisions

I undertake there will be no hidden agendas in my Executives process. All proposed decisions will be discussed openly with the stakeholders. There will be no fait accompli presented to any stakeholder. MNA’s Continental Associations and Classes must be listened to and be part of the decision making progress.

ISAF Future Direction

Olympics: It is vital for ISAF to maintain our involvement in the Olympic movement. We must do all in our power to remain relevant to the IOC. We need to keep evolving our sport so it is relevant to today’s audience whilst maintaining the tradition of our sport. Maintaining our involvement should guarantee our financial security over the next few years. However with so many media outlets other than television emerging so quickly, I’m sure the television money on which we rely, will reduce in the future. We must look at ways to diversify our income streams.

Marketing: Sources of additional revenue must be found outside of the stakeholders. With my prediction that the funding from the IOC will reduce in the future, it is vital we increase our efforts in this area. Over the years ISAF has received sporadic advice from various experts and elected to handle the marketing in-house. I undertake to recommend to the Executive that we establish a Marketing Commission and through them utilise the services of professional marketers. A report on progress will be presented at Councils first meeting in 2013.

Tools for 21st Century

ISAF must utilise the many tools being developed for clearer and faster communication. With the video conferencing facilities available via our computers, regular communication between committee members must be utilised. Gone are the days of meeting once a year in November and working together for a few days. Whilst this may seem very critical, it is a reality and must be addressed. Committee work can continue throughout the year in this fashion to enable the annual meeting to be staged in a more efficient manner. The Committee Chairman appointed in November will be required to operate their committees in such a manner. A revised meeting schedule will be presented at the first meeting of Council in 2013 with the aim of reducing the annual meeting to seven days or less.


Strengthen emerging nations

The emerging nations are building our sport. With the help of the established nations within a Continental area, we must assist them to develop as quickly as they are able. The Emerging Nations Program established in Australia with the 2011 ISAF World Championships has proved to be a great initiative, which has been extended to the 2014 World Championships in Santander, Spain and must be extended to all future ISAF World Championships. It is the foundation for all Emerging Nations to become part of ISAF and the Olympic family.

Finally, I ask you to consider your vote in November. Over the past 14 years serving ISAF in various roles, I have a consistent track record with many successful outcomes from America’s Cup fee negotiations to being the Technical Delegate at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. I have the passion, knowledge and experience to lead ISAF. I am prepared to provide the leadership to make the changes that we all agree together are necessary for ISAF and our sport of sailing.

I look forward to your support in Dublin.



Three candidates are standing for the role of President, and six Vice-Presidents will also be elected. Other candidates who wish to submit their view on the future of sailing and the ISAF are invited to submit their contribution for publication.

David Kellett's full CV can be viewed by http://www.sailing.org/meetings/generalassembly/David-Kellett.php!clicking_here

Full details of the eligible candidates, including biographies of each candidate, stated goals and nominating MNAs, are available to view by http://www.sailing.org/meetings/generalassembly/election_of_officers.php!clicking_here

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