Carlo Croce: State of the Union Address

Published on November 14th, 2015

The 2015 ISAF Annual Conference has commenced in Sanya, China, with the world of sailing gathering on the Chinese island of Hainan on November 7-14 to talk about the business of sailing and make the decisions that take the sport forward into the new year. Carlo Croce, President of the International Sailing Federation, delivered his report to ISAF Council on November 13…

We are now at the end of the third year of this Executive Committee and I would like to look back for a moment to better focus on the way ahead.

It is with some satisfaction that I see the main goals of our vision and programme have been in the great part addressed but one thing stands out to me and it is the spirit of our group; it is still exactly the same as it was when we started, still pushing very hard. I need to thank them once again, I have been very lucky.

First Goal
We needed a product and this was priority number one. The Sailing World Cup is the answer, it is our pinnacle event. A lot still needs to be done and we confirm it will come, as expected, by 2017. This is our goal and I am confident we will reach it.

At the Oman Council in 2013 we got the green light by you [ISAF Council] to proceed. I thank you once again on our behalf. It was only in September 2014 we are able to go to Abu Dhabi and this was our first and most encouraging step, we had been working hard for it.

This year we had a very good Sailing World Cup events in Miami, Hyeres, and Weymouth, all of the top sailors attended. Feeder events in Palma and Medemblik were a huge success with a very high number of entries. Home of Sailing, Live TV, Ranking List, Entry Systems, Prize Money – it was all there and it all worked. I want to thank all of our people for their hard work. All of them, bravo.

The second part of the season was more troublesome. Qingdao suffered with the distance, and even if attendance improved, it is still below par, in spite of efforts by (ISAF Vice President) Quanhai Li. Abu Dhabi suffered due to a number of reasons – overlapping events in two classes, John Craig’s support of 2014 was not there, Abdullah and Mohamed were busy elsewhere and we certainly were late and the wind conditions did not help. Compared to the 2014 event, it was a pity but overall it was good with many lessons learnt the hard way.

Looking ahead, we need to protect our pinnacle event. How? By keeping a bubble around each event and preventing important regattas overlapping. Priority number one is to look at a 3 to 5 year calendar, working with the classes from tomorrow to ensure the MNAs, sailors and coaches can plan.

Logistical organisation needs to be vastly improved by securing a deal with a world logistic organisation as a top priority. A lot can be achieved there, just look at Formula 1. Finally, we need to enhance the final and concentrate on focused communications.

Second Goal
Sponsors. In November 2014 we told you we were close to signing a deal. We actually managed it in December with support over five years. It is a substantial one with a partner that kept his word of nearly one year before and came in to support our vision with two very specific goals – the Sailing World Cup and a Foundation. We could not be happier. The Vice President of the Russian Sailing Federation and President of Gazprom International will be very much help to a foundation for the Emerging Nations Program. His connections will be very helpful and vital.

Looking ahead, Peter [Sowrey, ISAF CEO] will tell you we are working on deals with new sponsors. We hope we will have good news soon. Some will be of service rather than financial, like television, logistics, and timing, and each one will save us a lot of money.

Third Goal
Communication. As you will see all these three points are absolutely connected. When I first came to ISAF the first thing I noticed was absolutely no communication inside and outside. The whole organisation has been totally restructured with young and clever people working together. You may have seen communications to MNAs, the website, and social networks. All of this was Gary’s [Jobson] job; he really changed things.

Looking ahead, Peter will talk about this and there are many good prospects and our goal is to double our audience in one year on all social networks and through television.

Fourth Goal
The CEO Jerome Pels left us and then we went through some hard work head hunting. In the end Peter came through the system. His CV is an international, corporate CV but we are very different. We are here for passion, we are a political organisation and I learnt that when I came in to this. If you want to change you need to do it in a nice way, convince people and move ahead.

He can really help us reach our goals softly and in a wise way. This is my personal recommendation to Peter.

Fifth Goal
Para World Sailing. I would like to welcome Betsy Alison to Council as the Paralympic Sailing representative. This is a new era for Para World Sailing following the merger last year. ISAF’s resources, professionalism and focus are already having a significant impact on Para World Sailing’s growth and exposure. We have enhanced the Para World Sailing Committee with Betsy as Chair and Scott is doing a very good job as liaison to ensure Para World Sailing is embedded across the organisation.

A record number of nations are attending the Para World Sailing Championships in Melbourne. We should reach the magic number of 32 the IPC asked for. ISAF is committed to welcoming the RNAs into our MNAs and we hope to make good progress in this area as soon as possible.

The inaugural Paralympic Development Program was a great success and this is something we want to build on and your on-going support for this program is important.

Para World Sailing is currently reviewing the best possible proposal for the Paralympic Games moving forward; this will include the events and Continental / Regional qualification systems.

I have been travelling extensively on behalf of ISAF over this past year. Peter and I represented ISAF at the 128th IOC’s [International Olympic Committee] Session in Kuala Lumpur. It is important that ISAF become much closer to both the IOC and the ASOIF [Association for Summer Olympic International Federations] and I have asked Scott to become our chief liaison with ASOIF. Peter and I will continue to work more closely with the IOC.

Our new office in Lausanne is being used more frequently and ISAF will have a bigger presence next year and a bigger officer has been offered by ASOIF.

This is the first step we need to take because the IOC ask us why are we far away? Every week something is going on and we need to get closer and move someone to Lausanne as this is important for our relationship and what we can get from the IOC.

These are the things I wanted to tell you. Again, thank you for the great gift of the Sailing World Cup three years ago. It was an act of faith in ourselves and we hope we have achieved what we wanted to and I hope you are happy with that. We are far away from perfection, there have been a lot of mistakes but the effort has always been there as well as goodwill.

We are one year away from the end of our four year period and we may have some new candidates but I hope we can keep the fantastic atmosphere of our executive as it needs to be preserved.

A live blog will be available from Saturday November 7 through to Saturday November 14 here:

The Annual Conference meeting schedule, papers and further information here:

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