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World Sailing Presidential Newsletter: August 2019

by Kim Andersen, President World Sailing 5 Sep 2019 06:25 PDT
Malcolm Page, US Sailing's chief of Olympic sailing, with 49erFX sailors Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea after they clinched the Silver Medal at the 2019 Pan American Games © Photo courtesy of US Sailing / Brittney Manning

I hope you've had a great summer! August was a busy month event-wise with major continental Championship the Pan American Games in Peru, the Test Event for next year's Olympic Games and the Hempel World Cup Series Round in Enoshima, Japan, all taking place.

There was also continued work on the Governance reform proposal, equipment selection for the Paris 2024 Olympics, and working on the development of the New Olympic offshore event and the information and learnings around this new event.

During my visit to the Pan Am Games in Paracas and the test event in Enoshima, I had the opportunity to talk to many MNAs about their main challenges and the views on some of the decisions we have to make in World Sailing. It's been a pleasure to talk sailing from South America to Asia!

I had the fantastic opportunity to sail the tune-up race for the TP52 Worlds in Palma onboard Bronenosec, invited by Vladimir Liubomirov. This was Sailing in a nutshell: racing at its closest, handling and maneuvering at its best, a crew with a mix of experienced and new "rock stars", specialists represented by all age groups and last but not least, a piece of perfect equipment!

Sailing and high-level racing is truly a sport for life! The Bronenosec team gave me a super experience on the water together with the other teams warming up for the TP52 Worlds.

Pan American Games

At the Games, sailing was very well represented with 168 sailors from 26 nations taking part, making us the third biggest sport in the Games after Athletics and Swimming. The range of classes ensures that this is a true continental championship with a mix of Olympic classes and major continental classes represented, giving sailors on the continent a pinnacle event with a broader reach than only the Olympic classes - a great event structure.

Under the leadership of John Bennett and Fred Hagedorn from Pan American Sailing and the "local" head of organizing, Jorge Barreda, the Championships were in good hands and very successfully executed. A huge congratulations to all involved. I believe World Sailing needs to work closely with the major continental multi events such as the Pan Am Games and the Asian Games going forward, by planning media communication and promoting sailing in the regions supporting the MNAs in promoting our sport. The good news is that both events are planning to have Youth Games in the near future and this will play to the Strategy of World Sailing for developing and strengthening youth programs.

The Test Event in Enoshima

This kicked off with a Typhoon start in contrast to the "Ready, Steady Tokyo" theme. The weather conditions were challenging to all parties involved. After a bumpy start the event got into the "flow", but there were still many procedures not operating correctly from the start and this caused problems for teams, sailors and organisers. The good news is that we have a good reference on how to operate when benchmarking against the Sailing World Cup, so solutions to most of the challenges are known and after a thorough evaluation of learnings, we are confident that things will further improve next year, with the experience gained by the organizing committee at the test event.

During the Hempel Sailing World Cup which followed, the weather conditions were challenging so the conclusions made from both events will need to be evaluated. With the support we have from JSAF, the Governor of the Kanagawa Prefecture, Mr. Kuroiwa and the Mayor of Fujisawa, Tsuneo Suzuki and by strengthening the interface with Tokyo 2020, we will be ready for the Olympics in Enoshima in 2020.

The Governance Reform Proposal

The Governance Commission has been working on accommodating and adopting the responses from the questions and collating feedback from MNAs into a "final" version.

As mentioned, I had talks with many MNAs when visiting the Pan Am Games and at the Test Event in Enoshima - good and direct talks are what is needed, deciding what can be agreed and what needs to be worked on. A lot of information and concerns have been heard, and these have all been communicated to the Commission to deal with before the next update on the proposal for our Board meeting in September.

It is clear that in the proposal distributed there is a lot of information, but also a lot of interpretations that are leading to misunderstandings.

I believe the proposed structure to have strong merits - making processes more timely and transparent and at the same time putting more focus on participation and development versus the dominating focus on the Olympic event as it is today. When talking about the Olympic Council for sure they will need specialist Committees supporting them directly and you will probably see a better and more direct line of communication than we experience today. For the new Commissions, the same will apply, that these Committees will need support from specialists. We have many super specialists today and we will need them in the future, but the present structure has been dominated by Olympic politics and the new proposed structure is giving a constructive option on how to rewrite the structure and get a broader perspective, including participation and development in taking our sport forward.

We are now calling for meetings to have a dialog and the Commission will continue their work for the sailing community to have a dialog and receive the final update on the Governance Reform Proposal in time for preparing for the Annual Meeting the end of October.

Find the press release regarding the process for the Governance Reform here.

Paris 2024 Olympics

The final stages for the equipment selection for the 2024 Olympics is in the process of being finalised and will be voted on at the Annual Meeting at the end of October.

Sea trials for the Windsurfing equipment are planned and the Kiteboarding community continue to test and refining the new mixed kite discipline.

A lot of activity around the new offshore event is also taking place - the doublehanded discipline has been growing strongly during the past few years, but going forward with a "twist" of sailing mixed doublehanded! We are seeing the mixed event being part of existing regattas, but also new events are surfacing. There were a lot of questions raised in Sarasota and all have been discussed and solutions found, and the support from sailors and stakeholders has been great. To develop the understanding of this new event a short movie has been developed to give answers and solutions to the questions raised. You can watch it below.

Sports presentation for Olympic sailing at Paris 2024 is getting attention from around the globe, and you can see an article here from the New York Times.

Thanks to the offshore community for working hard to make us all excited about having an endurance discipline as part of our sports presentation in the Paris Olympics.

As we are getting closer to our Annual Meeting, this coming month will be busy as we focus on final preparations as we have a lot of important decisions to make.

I look forward to seeing many of you in Bermuda!

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