Hi Richard, I read with great interest your reaction to John Forbes speech last night.
There is no doubt that John's speech was a great surprise and I think totally unexpected by everyone in the room at the presentation and when he read the first line of the submission I instantly knew which MNA had made this submission and I cringed on where he was going with it. However, after reflecting on his speech over night there is no doubt that he was completely honest and right on the money.
There is no doubt that the Tornado sailors appreciate the recent turn around from Yachting New Zealand but Yachting New Zealand's submissions and their council member help contribute to the disasterous position that Olympic sailing is in right now. No question.
It needs to be made perfectly clear to all these National Member Associations world wide what their actions are doing to the future of the sport and the lives of the Athletes with very little consequence on the MNA's, Yachting Association boards and council members.
The recently appointed ISAF Athlete Commission (the athletes voice) has come out with 10 of the 11 Olympic classes represented stating that the decision taken in Estoril was a bad decision and needs to be over turned. This is what the Athletes want. Remember us? the sailors.
John Forbes speech may have offended Yachting New Zealand President Jan Dawson but I hope the point sank in how passionate the sailors are about 'OUR' sport and how much we love our discipline. I think sailors from all classes could relate to Johns speech and I know there were many laser radial sailors in the room that commented he was right. I believe 10 of the 11 classes will support johns words.
Its not like these council members are just changing classes, they have voted to isolate and remove a whole sector of the sport.
It is so painful to see so many young sailors in that room last night have no future in Olympic sailing. Who knows how many potential gold medallist, world champions and future heroes of our sport are under 21 and sitting in that room. Their future, dreams and ambitions have been cut off at the knees. There will be no funding from MNA's/Governments for youth development, no progression structure and no future.
When I was 21 my best result at a world championship was 24th, no one would have predicted that I would go on to win 6 Olympic Tornado World Championships, 2 ISAF World Sailing Games and 3 Formula 18 World Championships. I was just a keen kid that loved the sport.
For me personally now, I am sailing the best I have, the fittest I have ever been, loving the sport more than ever and being FORCED to retire from Olympic Sailing in six months time.
As John Forbes said we have a great product, the biggest weight range of sailors, we have the biggest variety of sailors - we have ex sailboarders, ex laser, ex 49er, ex 470, ex Europe dinghy and Olympic medallist from other classes. All the sailors come to the class as we have the best most exciting product. The best resale value of all Olympic classes, the widest age range, Tornado has the most sponsors, we have the tightest rules, tightest quality controls on equipment, best equipment longevity. No Question.
Forbes was right we have the best product.
With the rumours that have come from the ISAF Executive meeting 2 weeks ago, ISAF are not prepared to do what is right for the sport and politically would rather save face for themselves. Multihull have very little political pull within ISAF, the fact is we prefer to be on the water.
With the challenge of over turning this decision and receiving a 2/3 majority and even convincing ISAF to put it on the table the time for being polite and nice is over. It is crunch time, cold hard facts. Is it going to be a political/ self interest decision or is it going to be good for the sport!
Thank you for your support and covering the event, you did a fantastic job and we as Tornado/multihull sailors appreciate what the press does for us.
Darren Richard Gladwell Editorial 2 March 2008
This regatta could well be the last ever World Championships for the Tornado as an Olympic class.
Certainly there was a changing of the guard at the Int Tornado Class Association meeting, with the election of Carolijn Brouwer as the new President, and a new committee.
However the class did itself no favours at the Worlds prizegiving with an attack on Yachting New Zealand by past ITA President John Forbes, seemingly endorsed by the new ITA President and echoed with the booing from the competitors tables as Yachting New Zealand President Jan Dawson made her way forward to make a closing address to what had otherwise been a brilliant regatta for the class.
Forbes probed, parried and quoted from a leaked email from the Yachting NZ Olympic Committee, which got onto the internet some months ago and was seized upon by the international multihull community.
The fact that the recommendation was not accepted by the YNZ Board seemed to be lost on Forbes. As too was the fact that Yachting New Zealand is one of the few organisations with the guts to have said they intend to make a submission to ISAF requesting a review of the event selection for the 2012 Olympics.
For the Multihull to make it back into the 2012 Olympics, there has to be quite a few more Yachting New Zealand's prepared to make such a stand.
Forbe's comments underline the political naivety of the multihull movement. Very simply you can have the most compelling case in the world, but if countries aren't prepared to vote for it, then it won't fly.
At this crucial time, the multihull movement needs all the friends it can muster. Attacking an organisation that has made a stand in your favour seems rather odd, to say the least.
With two Yachting NZ directors in the audience, plus the President and CEO, Forbes speech was a cheap shot, that did neither him nor the multihull movement any credit at all. The smart thing to have done would have been to praise and thank Yachting NZ for its stand and ask them to encourage others to do the same.
The effect of his attack on Yachting New Zealand will no doubt keep for another day. However it was an opportunity needlessly lost, and one that the Tornado class can ill-afford to lose.