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World Sailing needs more than a Coat of Paint

by Rob Kothe & the Sail-World Team on 23 Oct 2015
Mathew Belcher (QLD/QAS) and Will Ryan (QLD/QAS) – Aquazoom
While ISAF about to change its name to World Sailing, widely expected to do so at the Annual General Meeting in Sanya China (November 7-14th), much more is needed to improve the world-wide state of play than a coat of paint.


Phil Jones, the former CEO of Yachting Australia and now the CEO of Athletics Australia long believed that ISAF needed to improve its slow decision-making and poor long-term planning processes which were really hurting our sport. He was not alone.

For instance the ISAF Sailing World Cup touted as the flagship event for the World body, may have a bright future but there have been serious hiccups in recent times, with a mid-Olympic quadrennium decisions causing major issues.

Within no one having found a way past the 52 week limit on the annual sailing calendar, sailors can’t and won’t be everywhere, particularly late in the Olympic quad cycle.

The upcoming Abu Dhabi 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Final is a notable calendar casualty and the Sailing World Cup in Melbourne could suffer a similar fate, with the Copa de Brazil Vela in Rio starting as the St.Kilda Melbourne event finishes.

The 470 Men's class with Mat Belcher and Will Ryan at the helm, the Laser Radial with Eva van Acker and Marit Bouwmeester and the Laser class with Tom Burton and Matt Wearns, Nick Thompson, Tonci Stipanovic, Robert Scheidt and other strong sailors will be well contested. The RS:X men and women classes have reasonably good entries too but the story is not so good elsewhere.


The Nacra 17s were cancelled in early October, with transportation of boats from the Europeans in Barcelona to Abu Dhabi being a major stumbling block, and then the 49erFX were cancelled with a lack of entries.

Now a week out from the Sailing World Cup Final, supposed to be the pinnacle Olympic class sailing event in 2015, there are just seven Finns entered, with three of the world’s top ten amongst those and ten in the 49er class with just one of the top ten ranked sailors entered.

Why is that so? It comes in two parts - the top guns are in high demand around the world in the high profile sailing events and the Olympic qualifying events are clashing badly with World Cup events.


Last weekend London 49er Gold Medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen were at the America’s Cup World Series in Bermuda, busy aboard Artemis cutting away prods and ditching code zeros after their collision with a lost Jury boat.

Also in Bermuda Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, the current 49er World Champions were leading the charge aboard Emirates Team New Zealand. Giles Scott, the leading Finn sailor and odds-on Gold Medal favourite for Rio, was calling the shots on Land Rover BAR at the same event.

But then it's Olympic class scheduling clashing with ISAF World Cup events as well.


The Finn Gold Cup will be in Takapuna Auckland New Zealand 21-29th November and right now at least five of the top 10 ranked Finn sailors are training there.

The 49er and 49er FX World Championships are in Argentina starting November 17th -22nd and for both these crews a week in Buenos Aires will be almost mandatory.

Today Sail-World talked to Alistair Fox, ISAF’s Head of Events, in Southampton, who has taken on the ISAF Sailing World Cup events responsibility since John Craig, the Head of the ISAF Sailing World Cup resigned in late August 2015.

‘Scheduling is the major issue and fixing dates for the ISAF World Cup events will allow the option of the classes and other event organisers to work their calendars around that.

‘For the last quadrennium we all knew what the calendar was but there were changes in emphasis (within ISAF) that has caused issues mid cycle. That meant the World Cup final in Abu Dhabi was announced in June 2014 for 2014 and then 2015 but the classes had already signed their World Championship contracts well before that decision.

‘The particular problem right now in Rio is the Southern Hemisphere Olympic Games means that teams want to be training there in good conditions, particularly in December, January and February, as winter training is not something anyone wants to do in the UK or Europe.

‘Going forward we will negotiate a contract with the classes every four years and we will put the World Cup dates into that contract that is something we haven’t done in the past.

‘We need to get ahead of the game. That’s the bottom line.‘

And so say all of us. With another Sailing World Cup event in Enoshima Japan likely to come into the mix from 2017 onwards, the schedule will be even tighter.

Let's hope that the Sanya ISAF- World Sailing Conference makes decisions in a timely manner, remembering that Decision not to make a Decision is a Decision

Gul 2020 FOOTERRolly Tasker Sails 2019 728x90 FooterPacific Sailing School 2020 - FOOTER

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