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UKCRA sends Open Letter to Jacques Rogge

by Nick Dewhirst, UKCRA on 9 May 2008
Tornados power off the start line in their penultimate race, 2008 Tornado Worlds, Takapuna, New Zealand © Richard Gladwell www.richardgladwell.com

UKCRA has posted an Open letter to IOC President, Jacques Rogge, together with the online petition of over 6000 signatories. Citing a number of reasons as to why the Mulithull event should be included in the 2012 Olympics, the letter also calls for the re-instatement of an 11th Event.

'The response to the online petition has been amazing', says UKCRA President, Nick Dewhirst. 'It has exceeded 6000 signatures in the six months since it was started after the last ISAF Council meeting. To put that in perspective, it compares with 7200 for a really serious issue such as Troops out of Iraq.

'A record 15 countries have made formal submissions to ISAF in only 10 days before the March 15th deadline. '

Dewhirst continues:

'As Councillors gather for the next ISAF meeting this weekend, now is an appropriate time to deliver the petition to the IOC, with two very specific and doable requests.


'1.We ask IOC remind ISAF of its 2002 Recommendations to sporting authorities on how to select Events. Our research indicates that ISAF was so used to operating as an old boys club, deciding issues by political deals, that it failed to appreciate its role as guardians of our sport, making decisions on objective strategic grounds, in this case as recommended by IOC. Table 5 on page 38 of our Report best shows how ISAF really operated, starting as a keelboat club as late as 1972, then haphazardly adding Events for every new sailing fashion until IOC said stop. Hopefully the spot-light of public exposure in this age of global communication will persuade enough Councillors to do the decent thing and include us at the May meeting. That is why we are sending copies to all 100+ IOC members. Representatives of our international class associations will also be there to lobby in person for our cause, as will Paul Pascoe, President of our newly formed International Multihull Council, which plans to affiliate with ISAF.


'2. Should that fail, we ask IOC to extend the 11th Event another round, to give ISAF time to get its act together with a logical strategic plan to execute the IOC Recommendations, as suggested by past ISAF President, Paul Henderson. There are two lines of thought on this. The pragmatic approach led by the RYA is to correct the worst excess i.e. keelboats out - high-performance in. The logical start-afresh approach, represented by the French submission, is 5 x 2 i.e. five disciplines by two sexes (Windsurfing, Single-Handed + Double-Handed Dinghies, Multihull, Keelboat).


'Even if we have majority support, the two-thirds requirement is a tough hurdle to jump, so there is little point in speculating what are our chances of success in May, but our campaign has been snowballing rapidly, so it is not impossible. In any event, the submission put forward by ISAF's leadership appears so legally dubious that it may be open to challenge before the final opportunity in November, which is the IOC deadline. Firstly no serious legislative body to would put forward a motion to 'reaffirm' a decision already made because that would be redundant and secondly the clause to guillotine discussion of the supportive submissions without publication, let alone discussion breaches its own Regulations on the rights of its Members, unless the relevant regulations are themselves first changed, and the Executive has not put that on the May agenda.


'If you have personal contact with your ISAF Councillor, please email them now, thanking those who are supportive or constructively lobbying those who still need persuasion. While ISAF refuses to publish the list of members who have made submissions, our intelligence suggests that the position is as follows: -

1. Votes in favour of Multihulls at November Meeting followed by Submissions for the May Meeting = UAE, AUT, AUS, DEN, ESP, FRA, GBR, CAY, RUS, SWE

2. Votes in favour of Multihulls at November meeting, without May Submissions = CHN, BRD, IND, JPN, PUR, SIN, VEN, RSA

3. Submissions for May Meeting, with votes against or without votes in November = CAN, HKG, NED, TAN

4. Votes against Multihulls in November / further persuasion helpful = BRA, IRL, ITA, PLN, TUR, USA

If you are a citizen of the last group, constructive personal lobbying may help persuade them, because there are indications that some are wavering. Please do so now. They may already be on their way to the meeting, but may nevertheless check their emails. Given that this is in China, the chances of getting through may be enhanced if you do not send any attachments, nor use politically sensitive words.


The full text of the letter sent to IOC President, Jacques Rogge is as follows:


Jaques Rogge, President
International Olympic Committee
Château de Vidy
1007 Lausanne
Switzerland


Cc: Members of the International Olympic Committee
ISAF Council Members


7th May 2008


A PETITION CONCERNING THE 2012 SAILING REGATTA

Dear Mr. Rogge

We ask that IOC intervene to ensure that the 2012 Olympic Sailing Regatta include a Multihull Event so that it genuinely presents 'the wide range and diversity of sailing' as claimed by ISAF’s President, Goran Petersson.

Multihulls represent a large branch of the sport, accounting for between a tenth and a third of global participation depending on the basis of calculation and have been part of the Regatta continuously since 1976.

However the Commission now requires that the Regatta be reduced from 11 to 10 Events. Last November ISAF chose to do this by eliminating the only Multihull Event, rather than any of the two Keelboat, two Windsurf or six Dinghy Events.

As explained in our Report, it appears that ISAF did so because multihulls are politically weakest, not least representative, least telegenic or least suitable for the Olympics. In the view of your former colleague and previous ISAF President, Paul Henderson, 'The most interesting observation is to see how many MNA's are now saying that their delegates were instructed to vote in the best interest of their specific country winning medals - not in the best interest of our beloved sport. Surprise! Surprise! Holier than thou pontifications are quite hollow methinks.'

In doing so, we believe that Councillors did not vote in the 'interests of the sport of yachting throughout the world' as required by Article 41 of the ISAF Constitution, because your 2002 Review of the Olympic Programme provided recommendations on how to interpret this (See Appendix 3).

In general, you recommended that 'weight category events should not be allowed, except for the combat sports and for weightlifting', yet ISAF proposes an Event for 1 Person Dinghy (Heavyweight) and against 'similar events' yet ISAF proposes four Dinghy Events for Men.

Specifically you criticised sailing for 'low broadcast and spectator appeal'. Your subsequent 2005 Report noted that ISAF had taken steps to increase the appeal of the sport by 'introducing faster and more spectacular boats', yet now it has taken a step backwards by completely excluding the fastest boats of all, namely Multihulls (See Appendix 3).

In addition you also provided guidance on encouraging participation by Women, yet ISAF is increasing its preponderance of Events for Men, by eliminating the only remaining Open Event, which is Multihulls.

You then also noted that 'the Keelboat class are very expensive boats …. for general practice and development compared to other classes' and wrote that 'if the Executive Board recommends the reduction in the number of athletes and events, the Commission believes these reductions could be made through the exclusion of keelboat sailing events'. Yet ISAF disputed this unambiguous advice.

The leadership of ISAF continues to dispute your recommendations, despite: -

• An appeal from the Royal Yachting Association on behalf of the host nation
• The recommendation of ISAF’s ow
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