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World Sailing levy claimed to raise $300k from Olympic sailors

by Ben Remocker/Sail-World.com/nz 23 Jul 2019 19:37 PDT 24 July 2019
World Sailing's new levies on the Olympic classes are expected to create some excitement amongst the ranks of all Olympic class sailors © Pedro Martinez / Sailing Energy

The predominant Olympic class Association is reporting on its website that the Board of World Sailing Board is implementing significant new fees on Olympic sailors, which it calculates will raise $300,000 per year.

On its two websites, the 49er/49erFX and Nacra 17 class associations claim that World Sailing have introduced a new fee in the Olympic Classes Contracts which will significantly increase the revenue line for World Sailing.

There is no statement on the World Sailing site explaining the new fee, or if it is a new revenue stream or cost recovery. However it was flagged to the builders 18months ago, but no amount specified.

It is understood that the fee will relate to building facilities inspections, however the process and resourcing for these inspections is yet to be advised. While the levy is being described as a tax in some quarters, it is understood that the intention is for the levy revenue to be offset against the cost of inspections - which is a major undertaking, if it is performed correctly.

World Sailing is implementing its FRAND policy for the licencing of builders of Olympic classes. World Sailing expects to significantly increase the number of licenced builders world wide, and therefore the inspection tasks without any initial increase in boat numbers. All boat builders, sailmakers, sparmakers, foil and fittings manufacturers are embraced by FRAND (Fair, Reasonable, And Non Discriminatory) licencing approach.

If World Sailing does get into the facilities inspection and certification business, it is unlikely that they could contract out of liability if defects were shown to emanate from a facility certified by World Sailing.

Ben Remocker, the Class Manager for all three classes says that the Olympic classes will be introducing a submission to the November annual meeting to disallow the fee, claiming that the Olympic classes already pull the majority of World Sailing's revenue. He also claims that the new fees are applicable to all new Olympic boats and gear purchased, and extends beyond those sailing in the actual Olympic Regatta.

For instance of the 2,000 Lasers built worldwide annually all would pay the new charges, yet in the Rio Olympics, only 83 sailors competed in the two Events which used Lasers as the Equipment.

The full statement published on the Nacra 17/49er/49erFX websites reads:

The new Olympic contracts, which each Olympic class for 2024 must sign by August 1st, includes a new 1% fee on all equipment sales that will pull an estimated $300,000 annually from the pockets of Olympic and non-Olympic sailors.

Each sailing class currently pays fees that are set in World Sailing regulation of roughly 0.7% of the cost of a new hull, down to smaller percentages of the hull costs for more expensive boats. By adding an additional 1% fee and applying it to all Olympic equipment, not just the hulls, the fees on Olympic sailors will nearly treble.

The normal fees, called ‘hull plaques’ have all details of the fee schedule set out in regulation. Changes to these fees and any others must be debated by the World Sailing Council to be implemented. In order to bypass the normal system of debate and discussion, the World Sailing Board of Directors has instead added this new fee to the Olympic contracts which include confidentiality clauses once signed.

The Olympic sailors already bring in $4 million USD per year via the IOC for World Sailing. This is over 60% of World Sailing revenue and another 20% of World Sailing revenue comes more indirectly from the sailors via the sponsorships raised off their regattas. In this situation, the 1% fee will not only concern equipment bought by Olympic campaigners but will also impact all level of sailors from youth to masters and clubs. In some popular classes like the Laser where 2% are Olympic campaigners, the gains made through non-Olympic campaigners will be many times more.

Charging the Olympic sailors is an easy way for World Sailing to add revenue, since in order to pursue the Olympic dreams the sailors must buy the equipment used in the Olympics. In bypassing the normal system of debate on all Olympic matters, the World Sailing Board is side stepping the transparency, safeguards, and debate that normally occurs. Using the Olympic contract as a vehicle to add fees to sailors via the class associations and manufacturers is not democratic and should not be how World Sailing operates.

All of the stakeholders within Olympic sailing should be debating this new fee, and council should ultimately decide if it is in the best interest of the sport.

The Olympic Classes presented this argument to the board in protest over the proposed contract since the 2017 November conference in Puerto Vallarta, but the board is holding firm knowing that the drive to be Olympic will force classes and builders to all sign the contract.

The Olympic Classes will be jointly proposing a submission for debate in November to explicitly disallow the addition of fees via the Olympic contracts and impact over the whole sport spectrum.

Websites: 49er.org/blog/new-fees-added-to-all-olympic-boats and nacra17.org/new-fees-added-to-all-olympic-boats

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