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President's Report on the ISAF Mid-Year Meeting in Copenhagen

by ISAF on 16 May 2013
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ISAF President Carlo Croce reports on the 2013 ISAF Mid-Year Meeting that took place in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I am excited we are together in Copenhagen for our first real Council meeting and I have been looking forward to this moment so we can exchange ideas and to report to you on the progress we have already made since November.

The Committee appointments were a difficult but important item to take on immediately after the elections in November. I thought it was best to deal with this quickly and we managed to get the new Executive to meet in December which also gave us the opportunity to get to know each other better and to divide the tasks.

I must say I am very happy with the group and we have a fantastic mixture of experience, expertise and nationalities; I was very lucky in this and thank all Vice-Presidents - I am confident that this will be of great benefit to ISAF.

In the same meeting we planned to look for a suitable CEO, we asked the IOC for advice, they provided some info on job description and salary. We all considered this and then we thought we had a very good candidate in Jerome. In fact he was willing to show he would be capable and given the specific know how and experience I trust he will be a good choice.

His Majesty King Constantine helped in setting up a meeting between me and President Jacque Rogge - an old friend of us all. We went to see him in Lausanne together and had a long and interesting exchange of ideas. His guidance and advice is important and helps ISAF to shape our ideas for the future

One topic we discussed made me realize that we had an immediate challenge in front of us. You will all remember that in February the Executive Board of the IOC met to decide on the core sports for the 2020 Olympic Games. The idea was that one of the 26 current sports on the programme for the summer Olympic Games should be dropped to make room for a potential new sport.

We know now what happened and luckily things went well for Sailing, which I see as 'reward' for our very successful performance as a sport for the 2012 London Games. In preparation of this meeting we undertook a careful and polite lobby. I personally wrote to all IOC members and we produced a nice small booklet summarizing the strong points of our sport. It appeared that only five sports were discussed and voted on to be potentially dropped. These sports were: modern pentathlon, hockey, wrestling, taekwondo and canoeing.

In the final vote eight members voted for wrestling and hockey and modern pentathlon got three votes each. Wrestling was dropped. Taekwondo and canoeing were saved in the earlier run off votes.

IOC will keep the number of gold medals in the future, there is a chance that medals of an outgoing sport shall be spread to the other existing core sports.

Back to ISAF; one thing that I heard repeatedly in my discussions with MNA's in Ireland was their concerns over the cost of participating in ISAF meetings - it had to be shorter and more efficient.

The Executive Committee took this on board and as a result we have managed to prepare a schedule of meetings for the November Conference that fits within seven days. This cannot be done without compromises and not all committees will be happy, but the work must be done in shorter time.

Also the use of the Mid-Year Meeting needs to be reviewed. It would make sense to meet with the Council reasonably soon after the elections to discuss the plans and priorities for the next four years, like we will do at these meetings here in Copenhagen, but after this, one meeting of the Council should be sufficient. There is an idea that the Committees should actually run up until the first Council meeting, which would mean that there would be ample time to carefully put the Committees together.

We have also changed the format of this Mid-Year Meeting to focus on the views of the MNAs through the Council members and we will be discussing the way forward with the Committee Chairs tomorrow. I think this should be done frequently; the Executive Committee guidelines should be well known by the Committee's Chairs so as to help keep a mutual understanding. I will encourage VPs to be always very much in touch with Committee Chairs.

This way we will get a good feel of what our members are expecting from us and enable the ISAF administration to have clear common goals.

I also feel that managing the Federation through its Regulations as has been done in the past, is not efficient and doesn't give us the results quickly enough. We must look at the governance structure of ISAF. We have too many layers of decision making, which makes it harder to identify who is responsible for what and what progress is being made.

We went with Jerome to an ASOIF meeting on governance; it was embarrassing for us, apparently we are the only ones with all these layers!

I am still confused and surprised by the number of Committees, Sub-committees, Commissions, Working Parties and working groups we have. I have had a meeting with the Chairman of the Constitution Committee and we are developing some ideas to make things clearer and more efficient. Although I received your support and mandate to become your President in Dublin, I didn't enjoy the process. I think with some small changes we can improve the election process, making it easier and less painful for all. You can expect proposals to be put forward to you for your consideration and guidance.

The next thing we are working on is promotion of the sport and increasing revenues. This means we need to have a strong ISAF with a successful events programme and a better understanding of the calendar of events in our sport.

The success of the World Cup is essential for the sport in order to create a platform for our MNA Olympic teams to give value to their sponsors and at the same time promote the sport. To be in the focus of attention only once in four years during the Olympics is not enough.

ISAF can and must help and be active in the area of marketing of the sport; the TV market in sports is changing rapidly and for specialist sports such as sailing there are great opportunities if we can provide a good product. The distribution of TV via the internet is a perfect channel reaching the sailing fans and we must develop ISAF TV to be a hub of activity that will be the port of call for those interested in sailing. We have exciting plans for this area.

I firmly believe that ISAF can and will be attractive to commercial partners to work together to develop the sport. Again, this is a priority for me and we are working hard in this direction.

A few words about the sailing in the Olympic Games. I believe we should focus our efforts in keeping the events 2016 to 2020 even 2024 but not be excluding successful parts of our sport. I personally see Kiteboarding as a new and different branch of sailing, very attractive, spectacular and not too expensive. Also their format is new and TV friendly. I think we should strongly support the kite as a new 11th medal without changing the other events. This is also the impression I got from my visit to President Rogge: don't make changes to the events line-up, its sending confusing messages to the IOC members. Changes in the programme means higher costs for the MNAs which in turn means that developing nations lag behind and this is discouraging.

The spread of nations that can play for medals is our biggest asset and a great selling point for an Olympic Sport. We must build on this and narrow what the IOC calls the 'performance gap' between nations to ensure we are a truly universal sport. This is also the main reason why I would like to increase revenues for ISAF - not for money to be put into reserves or used for fancy things, but for investments in the development of the sport around the World and for promotion.

We have formally asked to get the Star in for 2016 in the light of the special case of the strong lobby by the Brazil, but at the same time our expectations should be modest. It has been made very clear that there is little room in the number of events at this stage. All sports have been told that changes should be made within the current level of the number of events and the number of athletes. However this may not be the same going forward to 2020 as I believe the IOC will accommodate initiatives to change the programme that can strengthen the Games and enhance its appeal. This will essentially make it a better event and of course appeal to larger audiences. At the same time the pressure will remain to make the Games easier and cheaper to run. We need to look at shortening the events using less days; having fewer courses, less measurement, fewer officials and so on. So for 2020 all our efforts could be to get kiteboarding in without changing 2016 events.

My conclusion after meetings in Lausanne, not only with President Rogge but also with the IOC sports director and the director of ASOIF (the Federation of Summer Olympic Sports) that we are in good shape and that relations are good. However it is important we continue to develop those relations. A presence in Lausanne would be an advantage and we are looking at establishing a small office in Lausanne so we have a base to work from when we are there. We are already on the waiting list for a place in the House of Sports and I have a commitment from the IOC to help us in this direction.

I am also pleased to report that we are talking with IFDS to find ways of working closer together and working towards the situation that ISAF / IFDS would become one organisation and a one stop shop for our members, without the need to be member of both organisations. As you know the IFDS secretariat is already established in the ISAF office and further integration of both organisations will only benefit disabled sailing. I feel this is an important signal to the World to treat disabled sailing the same as abled bodied sailing and to enjoy the sport together very much as already is happening successfully at World Cup events.

For more information on the schedule and submissions head to the ISAF Mid-Year Meeting section.

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