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World Sailing Presidential Newsletter: April 2020

by Kim Andersen, President World Sailing 6 May 21:16 PDT
World Sailing President Kim Andersen © Laura Carrau / World Sailing

I hope this letter finds you and your families safe, healthy and well. Around the world, each of us is experiencing the impact of the COVID-19 virus and its effect on our daily lives. And while we are all coping in our own ways, we continue living in this global pandemic with much uncertainty. While we are only now beginning to understand the far-reaching consequences of the crisis around the world; what is certain, however, is that this pandemic has affected and will affect all areas of society, including all of us in the sailing world.

We are clearly in the stage of crisis management, but we are working to establish some certainty around the situation. Ahead of us we have another unprecedented challenge - organizing and managing our sport going forward. This new situation will need all our determination, creativity and flexibility. We will need to make sacrifices and compromises, but extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures.

At this moment, nobody knows what the realities of the post-COVID-19 world will look like. What is clear, however, is that we will all need to take a close look at the scope of some of our activities and make the necessary adjustments to the new realities. While going into the unknown can be worrying, I can assure you that we will go through this together and we will come out on the other side stronger.

In addition, I am happy to announce that David Graham, a 20-year veteran in the sports industry with exceptional experience within sailing, will take the helm of our organisation starting on 13 July as the new CEO.

Future planning & organizing of World Sailing

In our planning and organizing, a lot of questions have been raised regarding the Annual Conference planned to take place in Abu Dhabi, UAE and for the possibility to have a Townhall Mid-Year Meeting to keep all our structures updated, informed and in contact. The Board supports the idea and are planning to organize accordingly.

Starting with the plans for World Sailing's Annual Conference in Abu Dhabi, the Board has decided to seek advice in case the venue agreed is not safe for hosting the conference.

The Board has asked the Constitution Committee for advice and the legal position has been made clear - we must hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM), by law, no later than 31 December 2020. Evaluating the options, the Board has decided to ask the MNAs to approve a written resolution amending the Constitution to accept a meeting "not in-person".

To decide these matters in an open and transparent manner, the Board has appointed a Committee to advise. The Committee will include one Board member who has confirmed they are not running for election, two members of the Election Committee and two members of the Constitution Committee (each appointed by the respective Chairmen). The Committee will receive administrative support from the World Sailing Executive Office. The Board has appointed Gary Jobson as the Board member on the Committee.

During the process of approving the resolution we will have Townhall meetings on the subject and will provide general information. For the last week of May the plan is to have a "Townhall Mid-Year Meeting". The agenda is still to be finalized but points regarding World Sailing's finances as well as a proceedings update for the AGM from Commissions and Committees would be part of the final agenda.

During the coming week the Board and the Senior Management Team will discuss the interim operations plan for World Sailing for the coming month and will inform accordingly.

Welcoming World Sailing's new CEO

I am happy to welcome David Graham, a 20-year veteran in the sports industry with exceptional experience within sailing, who will take the helm of the organization starting 13 July as the new CEO.

Graham's extensive and impressive career includes functions in sales, events, coaching and sponsorship, including CEO and Managing Director roles, the latest of which was as CEO of Oman Sail.

His experience as a sailor are equally as remarkable, having been an active sailor growing up sailing dinghy all the way through to the major big boat series and races in single and multihull, in addition he has lately been experiencing the fun of kiting.

With David's background and experience we will have a strong CEO at the helm to help restructure and provide strong direction for the operations of our organization. Given the present situation and the changes in the future led by the unprecedented situation, time is of the essence and we look forward to David joining World Sailing. On behalf of the entire World Sailing family it gives me great pleasure to welcome David to the team.

A look at our financial planning

Our financial planning is ongoing to adapt to the pandemic situation, a series of measures are already put in place as a result of the Task Force initiatives in close dialog with the management. The work is ongoing and will be developed further but has created a good platform for the operations in the 12 months ahead. We are continuing the dialog with the IOC and other possible funding measures in order to close the gap and bridge the months till after the Olympic Games in 2021. We are confident that a good solution will be reached.

Sustainability Education Programme launched

This month, we were pleased to launch World Sailing's Sustainability Education Programme in partnership with the World Sailing Trust, 11th Hour Racing and The Ocean Race.

These resources form part of our Sustainability Agenda 2030 - World Sailing's commitment to global sustainability. Broken down into six topics - race with World Sailing, Resources & Climate Change, Navigating Wildlife & Biodiversity, Reducing Waste, Oil & Fuel and Boat Cleaning & Maintenance - the resources will allow sailors between ages 6-12 to learn about the issues that affect us as a sport. But most importantly, it educates them on areas where the sport and they themselves can make a positive impact.

The first two topics have been launched in English and are available here with more to follow in the coming weeks. Further versions in Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish and Vietnamese will also be launched.

I am happy to see that we are working closely with many MNAs and Class Associations to share these resources to help educate the next generation and it is important we continue to keep the momentum up.

eSailing on the rise

There continues to be a rise in players on Virtual Regatta, World Sailing's official eSports partner. We have launched nine eSailing National Championships with Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland recording record numbers of participants. Furthermore, numerous clubs worldwide are organising internal championships and even streaming these to their membership.

It's been great to see some of the heroes of our sport engaging in the game. The World Sailing team produced a feature on Canada's Sarah Douglas playing the game which you can see here.

It's clear that eSailing is growing as a platform for sailors and non-sailors alike to engage in the sport of sailing. It is free to play, widely accessible via Apple or Android devices as well as desktop. Visit Virtual Regatta here to join and play now.

Training and Development Webinars

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Training and Development team have been doing a great job engaging with our MNAs to grow the sport of sailing at a grass roots level. After an approach by the Asian Sailing Federation (ASAF) to run a webinar series for them, we have seen more than 68 people from 19 MNAs engage in the Middle East and Asian, 34 people from 13 MNAs in the Caribbean and Central America and a small number in Oceania which is expected to pick up.

The series is titled, "Growing Sailing" and focuses on creating access to the sport, retaining sailors, focusing on the various pathways that are within the sailing industry with a fourth on Para sailing and how more people with varied levels of disabilities can get onto the water sailing.

Even in the global crisis, it's encouraging to see so many of our members with a positive attitude, looking further afield to help grow our wonderful sport.

The post-COVID-19 world

In the coming months we should look to the future and imagine the kind of post-COVID-19 world we would like sailing to be a part of. At this moment in time, nobody can truly predict the realities of what this will look like, but to be prepared, we need to try to look further ahead.

Short-term, we can assume that the racing activities would be limited to national and possibly "closed" regions. If this becomes a reality, then all the efforts could focus on engaging and developing activities in our sport at a national level and at least for the short-term we could concentrate on facilitating the access and educational elements of our sport.

If we look at the 2018-2022 World Sailing strategy, maybe the pandemic situation actually allows us to strengthen our focus on our goals. Despite all the uncertainty, we should look for the silver lining and I believe in the months to come we can achieve good things that will be benefit the future of our sport.

To ensure that you are all informed and up to date we will continue to communicate and share plans for the future. And if you have any questions, I urge you to reach out at any time via , www.facebook.com/KimAndersenSailing, or twitter.com/KimAndersen.

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