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World Sailing Presidential Newsletter: September 2019

by Kim Andersen, President World Sailing 1 Oct 10:11 PDT
SailGP Season 1 concludes in Marseille, France © Sam Kurtul /

September was a great month with several major championships taking place: the first Formula Kite Mixed Relay Europeans went down to the wire in Torre Grande, Sardinia, and clearly demonstrated the potential for this new discipline.

Twenty-two teams from 12 countries finished this new event. The new format is still undergoing some fine-tuning with the learnings from the test event earlier at Lake Garda - the format where national teams of one man and one woman each complete a single lap of the track - with the added drama of a flying "hand-over". Britain's Ellie Aldridge and Connor Bainbridge clinched the inaugural Formula Kite Mixed Relay European Championship title in dramatic fashion, showing the great potential for the sport and for showcasing it at the 2024 Olympics.

A lot of positive feedback has been received regarding the short movie and podcast explaining the new Mixed Offshore event for the 2024 Olympics, and constructive and positive discussions are ongoing with Paris 2024 and the IOC concerning eSailing in 2024. You can hear the specialists in offshore explain the event here.

Other sports such as cycling are introducing new mixed event: the Team Time Trial Mixed Relay made history at the UCI Road World Championships. This shows that leading International Federations are working actively towards getting greater gender equality.

Trials for windsurfing equipment for Paris 2024: Ten male and ten female windsurfers representing 18 nations will participate in the 2019 sea trials on Lake Garda, testing equipment from five manufacturers including the existing RS:X. The Men's and Women's Windsurfing event has been confirmed for Paris 2024, and it was decided that a review the exiting RS:X equipment against new equipment. The RS:X has served the event since the 2008 Games. Based on the sea trials on Lake Garda, the Council will receive recommendations and take the decision regarding the equipment to be used at the Paris 2024 Games at the Annual conference later this month.

SailGP had their Grand Final event in Marseille, the Olympic sailing city for 2024. It has been amazing to watch this new event in their first season delivering incredible events: new and exciting formats of racing and attracting sailors and the public to the host cities and at the same time having a strong reach out to media.

Experiencing the event in Marseille and judging the success in the first season the vision statement is clearly fulfilled: SailGP was created to engage and excite global sports fans year-round in a supercharged, fast-paced version of sailing aimed at increasing its mainstream popularity, introducing the next generation to the sport and creating a career path for extraordinary athletes.

A big thanks to the SailGP team and organisation for bringing a new event to showcase our sport and the fantastic developments in technology that we have experienced as a sport the last ten to 15 years.

The World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) are reorganising under new ownership, and it looks like we could be going back to the roots when match racing was a non-equipment driven discipline raced in equalised but different equipment around the world.

However, maybe more importantly, match racing is a good way for sailors to stay active and reducing dropout rates in our sport. I hope we are not only seeing a new top league, but a pyramid structure that could inspire clubs around the world using this discipline to attract new and existing sailors.

Governance Reform Proposal - this past month, the work with the reform proposal has been intense. The reform sets out to bring the World Sailing Governance structure up to date, we have a genuine opportunity to shape the future, we are guardians of our sport and we have a duty to leave it in a better place than we found it.

The reform is about leading and managing according to a strategy approved by MNAs with a clear direction, momentum, and last but not least, clear goals. Our processes need an overhaul because the current decision-making processes are holding us back.

The new Governance structure is about the inclusion and engagement of all 144 MNAs around the world, making them part of World Sailing's deciding bodies: it's about developing our sport globally, and not only focusing on the Olympics.

Approving the Governance reform is starting a journey with clear goals - we will have to make decisions during the journey to make sure that we are improving the details during implementation.

World Sailing had a Board meeting in mid-September and the Board approved a number of changes to the original Governance Proposal, which was published on 3 May 2019, following the recommendations of the Governance Commission.

These changes have been made as a result of the helpful responses and feedback we received from the Governance survey together with discussions and correspondence received by me, our Board members and members of the Governance Commission. There have also been a number of global conference calls taking place in which all MNAs are encouraged to participate, in order to voice their questions or concerns, and these have been very productive.

The revised Proposal was circulated to all MNAs Friday 20th September. Below I also wanted to give you a brief overview of those changes.

The changes from the original proposal of May 2019 include the following:

1. A new Participation and Development Council, which will be equivalent to the Olympic Council dealing with non-Olympic matters.
2. Changes to the composition of the Olympic Council, with the number of MNAs increased.
3. The number of appointed members on the Board has been reduced from four to two and the Board size also reduced to nine (rather than 11 as per the original proposal.)
4. The Nominations Panel has an additional independent member so there will be three of them, plus the President, who will now be a non-voting member.
5. The AGM has been changed back to October/November time of year, rather than May (as per the original proposal).
6. Some of the committees have been changed including adding sub-committees.
7. Further measures have been added to minimise conflicts of interest and the way they are managed in World Sailing.

In addition, there are a number of other changes and adjustments as well as clarification on a number of areas in the May Proposal.

The revised Proposal also sets out how voting on the constitution and regulations will be undertaken in Bermuda (together with the transition arrangements) to implement the Proposal. Click here for Revised Proposal and draft Regulations and Constitution.

I look forward to further discussion at our Annual Conference in Bermuda ahead of the final decision, and in the meantime, if you have any further feedback do not hesitate to let me know.

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