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ISAF, Olympics, and One Design Classes
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The Publisher
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Dec 6, 2012, 2:19 PM

Post #1 of 6 (15647 views)
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From Paul Henderson, ISAF past president:
I read with interest the promotion of the Lightning Class in Scuttlebutt this week. It brings to mind the great statement by Paul Elvstrom: "It is much harder to build a solid class organization than to design a new boat." I wish the ISAF would listen to this adage before replacing an Olympic Class. Solid class organizations are the glue that holds our sport together. Where is Ding Schoonmaker when we need him?




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Dec 6, 2012, 2:21 PM

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From Brian Morris:
I nearly fell of my chair with laughter with the comments by former ISAF president Paul Henderson regarding ISAF and the classes.

It is a fact that ISAF Council has 40 votes and 36 votes are MNA. The classes get one vote on ISAF Council. The ISAF Classes pay more money to ISAF (combined class fess and class plaques) than all the MNAs year subscriptions.

Under Paul Henderson Presidency ISAF approved the RS-X as an Olympic Equipment yet there were only a handful of RS-X in the world at the time. ISAF recently approved the Nacra as the Olympic Class with only two boats in the world. Difficult to have a class association with two boats.

Why does ISAF not support the classes or give them any votes on ISAF Council? It is clear the MNAs want to keep the power base. A International class represent sailors from all around the world. A Council member represents their Group at most their MNA or themselves at the least.

ISAF Council, president and executive will always back the MNA as they are the ones that vote to put them in power.

I am sure if this is published the sanctimonious council members, former council members and those appointed by council will justify that ISAF Council is great and the classes are evil. Fact, if the classes left ISAF all you would be left with politicians and no sailors.




The Publisher
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Dec 6, 2012, 2:22 PM

Post #3 of 6 (15637 views)
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From Paul Henderson:
The Olympics supplies 60% of all ISAF's revenue as is the case with many Olympic sports. The classes and the MNA's split the rest with about 10% left for sponsors.

The boardsailing scene is a little different than traditional classes as it has become an evolving development discipline of Sailing and requires a change in equipment after a few Games. In choosing the new board to be used at the 2008 Olympics, ISAF had a very intense trials with the sailors testing the equipment. Interesting that Rory Ramsden switched from running the Mistral One Design Class (the previous Olympic board) to running the RS-X, so the management of the new class had experience in the Olympic board event.

With regard to the seats on Council, yes, the Classes Committee has only one seat but US Sailing sent Ding Schoonmaker who was 150% for the classes and their major champion. Spain had past Snipe World Champion Arturo Delgado, Australia's David Kellett has sailed in over 30 Sydney to Hobart Races, Italy's Carlo Croce was a top level FD sailor, Canada's Peter Hall is top level Lightning and Etchells sailor, New Zealand's Ralph Roberts is experienced with the Int. 14, FD, and Finn, and Greece's George Andreadis has raced every class possible, and on and on. None of them would be controlled by the self interest of their MNA over what was good for the classes and especially the sailors.

Who appoints them is not the criteria but how they act is, and in my day 75% of the Executive Committee were Olympic sailors who knew the sport. By the way, I was an Int 14, FD, Finn, Soling sailor plus a few others all at the World level. I never held any position in the Canadian Yachting Association but they sent me any way.




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Dec 6, 2012, 2:25 PM

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From Arturo Delgado:
Regarding Brian Morris' comments, I donīt know about in your Country, but in most of them the Classes can't survive without MNA's. The Classes are just sailor Associations and MNA's include Clubs and sailors, in ones directly and in others throughout just the Clubs. With small exceptions, without Clubs no sport is possible.

I can't say anything different than Paul Henderson, except that unfortunately I never been World Champion in Snipe Class (thanks Paul anyway!)) but I was a very active sailor in that Class, and in Star, Dragon and Soling Classes and SCIRA Commodore before becoming elected President of the Spanish Federation. When I was site on the Council during several Years, like most of my colleagues, we were always trying to protect Sailors interests. With my experience I must say that sometimes are the representatives of the Classes


The Publisher
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Dec 6, 2012, 2:28 PM

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From David Sprague:

Regarding the comments by Brian Morris and Paul Henderson, classes do pay significantly more than the MNAs and get little value. Between 2005-2010 the Classes paid 1,666,174 Pounds Sterling (about $2,675,000 US) to ISAF, the MNAs 1,153,672 ($1,853,000 US). Brian is right, the MNAs get a much better deal than the Classes.

The MNA's alone elect the Executive and the Board of Directors, only the MNAs vote at the General Assembly (where the Council decision re the Olympic Boards/Kites was changed) and the MNA groups appoint 36 of the 40 Council Members. "No taxation without Representation" comes to mind. The Classes are certainly taxed but certainly not properly represented.

Paul implies the MNAs do not influence the voting of the people that they appoint and he is completely wrong in the current ISAF. That idealized world may have existed in history when he was President (although I doubt it) but not now.

Canada has made it clear that its appointees are expected to sell and vote the Canadian position. As an appointee of the Canadians I was told that if I did not vote the way the Canadian Association wanted me to they would retaliate. I understand US Sailing place similar restrictions on the people they appointed to ISAF.

The various groups in other parts of the world caucus and direct their appointees to vote according to involved people I have talked to. The MNAs control and vote for their self-interests and not of the sailing world as a whole. Here the "Tragedy of the Commons" principle comes to mind.

I suggest it is time for a complete rethink of how the ISAF is governed. The machinations over the past Olympic Cycles show how dysfunctional the ISAF has become. The past regime promised a complete review of the ISAF structure and all they did was concentrate more power in the hands of fewer people without looking at how the sport should really be governed.
...............................................
David Sprague: Past ISAF Council Member (Group P), Past Vice Chair International Classes Committee, Past President International Lightning Class, Past President, Canadian Yachting Association and Current International Measurer and International Race Officer.




bazza
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Dec 9, 2012, 2:19 AM

Post #6 of 6 (15497 views)
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Dear Editor,
much of what David Sprague has written is very close to reality. The thread has drifted a little but is now on course for a very interesting debate in that how is ISAF governed? The current system grew from the ethos that the countries with the most sailors pay the most fees and probably have the biggest national class associations so on the simplistic view that he who pays the piper calls the tune the ISAF system of governance has evolved. And yes, you don't have to hang around the ISAF AGM corridors to realise that most Council members are going to vote how their bosses want, that is human nature, and probably their bosses want the best for their sailors and that can be rationalised into whatever is good for us must be good for the rest.
The trouble with this system is that the little guys don't get much of a look in and some, like the Classes probably don't get a much of a look in at all. Of course, the oversight to this is the General Assembly where the MNA's get one vote per country. This can be a double edged sword and leaves itself wide open for a lobby group to inflict its will, for better of for worse, on the body ISAF. This is what happened in Dublin where the smaller nations, primarily led by the Asian countries, reversed the Council decision. And now that they have a taste for it then it could be repeated to the extent that Council would be redundant. So what to do? A partial solution is to increase the representation on Council to give the little guys more say and voting power. The number of Council members has stayed pretty much stagnant over four presidential terms ( 16 years plus Paul's extra two making it 18). It has been mooted for some time to increase the Council member numbers but the stronger nations are unwilling to give up their power. And, plus, the Olympic classes could be given the vote on Council along with more representation from the athletes.
Probably there are a number of other solutions as well, but will the dominant MNA's like the US, Canada, UK, Ireland and others vote in the interest of Sailing in general? Well I think David Sprague has answered that.
Barrie Harmsworth,
former ISAF Alternate Council member


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