World Sailing Presidential Update – December 2017
Published on December 22nd, 2017
World Sailing President Kim Andersen offers his look back and forward at the end of 2017 with reflection on what is occurring within the international governing body for the sport of sailing.
I would like to take this moment to briefly reflect on the past year and look to the future.
As I have been keeping you all aware, this year the World Sailing Board has established three key principles which have helped give us a clear direction going forward. These are:
* Establishing a more efficient, trustworthy and attractive organisation by increasing the level of transparency and accountability in World Sailing’s governance.
* Growing the sport globally by offering more opportunities for participation and creating a compelling offering for youth and working on moving the gender equity agenda forward.
* Enhancing sailing’s standing in the Olympic Games by increasing participation and growing the global audience.
The need to increase the level of World Sailing’s transparency and accountability is crucial to our future, perhaps more than ever. In a fast-paced world, where rumours very quickly become truths, and decisions can become political, we must ensure that as Sailors we stay true to the values our sport. By live-streaming our recent Annual General Meeting and Council Meeting, I am pleased that sailing enthusiasts from around the world can now follow our meetings and the decisions that we take.
Offering more opportunities for participation in our sport is equally important. I recently attended a very nice Christmas lunch with the the President of the Danish Federation, the commodore of Hellerup Sailing Club and Katja Salskov-Iversen, Bronze Medallist in the 49er FX Class in the Olympic Games in Rio.
One of the things we discussed was our own stories for being involved in sailing, and how World Sailing could be doing more to increase women’s participation. I think some useful conclusions came out of it, which I would like to share with you all:
* Need for greater focus on attracting youth with grassroot level learning environments with mixed activities.
* Need to challenge barriers of entry, making our sport more affordable and accessible – youth sailing is especially expensive.
* The importance of mixed gender activities as a strategy to reduce the drop off rate of youth and juniors.
It is always very interesting for me to hear the experiences of a diverse group of sailing enthusiasts, be it National Presidents, Commodores or sailors. And while these issues may be present it Denmark, challenges for engaging participation differ very much around the world, and so I am very keen to hear your thoughts about the blockers we have.
On a similar note, I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Youth Sailing World Championships in Sanya, China. The events included 376 sailors from 60 nations, supported by 200 volunteers in a fantastic place for sailing. The racing was superb, but I was also able to see the wonderful camaraderie between such a diverse group of young sailors, and we must provide opportunities for more young people to experience the wonderful sense of friendship and enjoyment that our sport can bring.
For these Championships, the Chinese Yachting Federation and the City of Sanya were especially proactive in delivering such a fantastic event on and off the water, and I would like to extend my sincere thanks to President Xiaodong for all the hard work of her team.
Regarding sailing’s standing in the Olympic Games – it should be clear that this is a very important issue for us. The Olympics not only provide revenues for sailing, but offer our sport a great exposure and provide a powerful inspiration to encourage participation across the world. And, moreover, the IOC can act as a powerful vehicle to drive positive developments in our sport.
This has recently been the case with the IOC’s gender balance recommendations. The board has now developed submissions support these IOC recommendations, focused on the following areas:
* Gender equity for athletes and medals at the Olympic Games.
* Increase of mixed events of the Olympic programme.
* Universality and Innovation events.
By adopting the submission in full into the Olympic slate for 2024 we should be able to set ambitious goals for increasing women’s participation in sailing. On top of using mixed events, we can promote a broader part of our sport and create a stronger program and presentation of our sport for the Olympics in 2024.
It will take time to see the full effects of the progress being made in all three of these areas; and change is not easy. At times it can create strong reactions, even opposition, but the mandate on which my team and I were elected was based on creating a new path forward. And as we end this year, I feel more optimistic and encouraged about the future of our sport than ever before.
A big reason for this optimism is that I have been able to meet and hear from so many of you who are so committed improving our sport. I would like to thank all of our World Sailing MNAs, the World Sailing staff, our volunteers, spectators, sponsors, partners and broadcasters for their continuing contribution to our sport. And finally, above all, I would like to thank our sailors, who continue to push the boundaries and are the true heroes sailing.
I wish all of you the very best for the holiday period and I hope that you all continue to contact me with your feedback and suggestions. I look forward to sharing a very happy and successful 2018 with you all!