Moving the Sport Forward

Published on December 8th, 2015

The formal organization of sailing as an international sport began in 1907 with the International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU). This was good until the ball got kicked in 1996, changing the name to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).

But today (December 8, 2015) it was announced that the world governing body for the sport of sailing yacht racing is called World Sailing. Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck checked in with Malcolm Page, Chief Marketing Officer for World Sailing, for this update…

For starters, what does it take to change the name?
When it comes to the logo, that can just change. But changing the name from the International Sailing Federation Limited to World Sailing Limited took a vote of all the national sailing federations at the 2015 Annual Conference in November. If it wasn’t unanimously approved, it was bloody close to it.

But the name has been quietly in use. Why the delay in finally announcing the change?
The reason why we were very quiet – and this goes back to how you get the use of it – was because World Sailing is a general name, and to get the trademarks on that name, you have to show use of it. So that’s why we started using it before the Annual Conference, before we voted on it.

We actually applied for the trademark three or four months ago, knowing we would be rejected. But, because we did an application, it shows that we want to use it. And now that we are using it, we have more claims to it. This is exactly how World Rugby went about it. So while our submission was rejected as expected, we’ve got claims to it now. No one else can put a submission on it now.

So are the names International Sailing Federation and ISAF gone forever?
Correct. It will no longer be the International Sailing Federation. It will be World Sailing, which follows a bit of a trend. International Rugby Board wen to World Rugby. There is now also World Rowing, World Swimming, World Hockey– they’re the ones off the top of my head. I’m sure there’s more but a lot of them have gone to this sort of branding.

And this is about branding?
To actually have a name that actually describes the business provides us a much better platform. The new logo, with a single boat, is also more modern and slick than the three boats with the big border around it. But, the real reason why the change is to launch the new way of ISAF.

We want to make the sport a little bit more commercial. We saw what happened with the Paralympics. That was a wakeup call. By getting removed as a sport from those Games, it was a sign for our sport to pick up our game and deliver, to modernize.

Our status for the Olympic Games needed this wakeup call too. The IOC has been very positive with us, letting us know we are in for the next couple of Games, but we are not a safe sport by any means. Their messaged to us is, “You’ve got to modernize this. You’ve got to change things. You’ve got to move things forward.”

A great example is what you’re seeing happen with the Youth Olympic Games in 2018, where we went from four to five sailing events. This was completely unexpected as the IOC specifically told all sports that there would be no extra events. But our Event Manager Alastair Fox and his team were very innovative in what events they chose, and the IOC rewarded them. Now we have boys and girls windsurfer, boys and girls kiteboard, and a mixed multihull event.

IOC essentially said to us, “You get what we’re trying to do with Olympic sports, and this is why we’re rewarding you with the extra medal.”

So World Sailing will help the organization move forward?
For starters, it’s a new face, but by all means it still needs to be better substance. It is important to take the Sailing World Cup to a new level to better transition to the Olympic and the Paralympic Games. Since the Games are only one month every four years, there is a need to showcase our sport with more continuity. So, World Sailing will seek to push the commercial side of the sport there, which will help reduce the reliance on the IOC money that is received. It’s something like two-thirds of our operating funds is IOC money. Hopefully, through improving commercial aspects, this can be better balanced, which then will allow World Sailing to do so much more for the sport.

Will this rebranding include the website, which I find to be a bit of a mess?
Yes, look for that in January.

Below is information that was shared with the Member Nations at the 2015 Annual Conference:



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