Paul Henderson: Foundation for Future

Published on September 24th, 2016

Paul Henderson (CAN), who previously completed a ten year term as ISAF (now World Sailing) President (1994-2004), returns as a candidate for President in advance of World Sailing’s General Assembly in Barcelona, Spain on Sunday November 13, 2016. Paul will be opposing incumbent Carlo Croce (ITA) and Kim Andersen (DEN). Here Paul comments on his platform…


Paul Henderson

I believe that if you are asking sailors to vote for you to lead their sport it is essential to describe the foundation on which one will put forward concepts which will be the basis for how one will govern. Here is what I believe and in the next few weeks I will address various issues and asking that constructive suggestions from all concerned sailors be forthcoming.

The foundation of Sailboat racing is based on Sailing Clubs, Yacht Clubs, Local Regattas, Race Weeks, International Class Championships and exciting events like the Volvo Ocean Race, Vendee Globe, Sydney Hobart Race, America’s Cup and many other such events worldwide. Sailing is a participatory sport that you can be involved in all your life and have participated in like me from 8 to 80 years old.

If one looks at the successful sporting events like Wimbledon, Melbourne Grand Prix, Master’s Golf, etc. they are all held at the same time each year in the same place and in Sailing’s case usually fostered by local enthusiasts out of their Clubs. It is essential that the focus is returned to these traditional regattas.

Sponsors like repetitive events and that is why we must encourage these events in Sailing. The State of Victoria Governor at the Melbourne 1999 Joint World Championship announced what a significant tourist event it was as 5000 sailors and friends arrived, paid their own way, stayed for two weeks in the hotels, ate at the restaurants and generally helped their economy.

Sailing is a unique sport and really cannot be compared to any other sport. What other sport can you buy an International Class Boat and show up on the starting line and for a few seconds be equal to the World Champion? In the past I sailed in regattas with 108 Star boats on the starting line or 100 Finns or about the same in the FD or Soling.

World Sailing must encourage open entry regattas and sailors race for the whole week and are not sent home after 3 days of the 5. With 140 MNA’s, to limit the entries to only 20 is very restrictive and does nothing to promote the camaraderie and fraternity of sailboat racing.

Many have said that Sailing is a pyramid with the Olympic Games at the pinnacle. I believe competitive Sailing is the Himalayan Mountains with many challenging peaks to climb all important. Sailing is a bottom up sport and not a top down dictatorship trying to be ruled in all aspects by World Sailing.

Several theoretical concepts have been introduced over the last few years with the intention of making Sailing more TV friendly. These must be now analyzed to see if they have achieved their goals. I am not convinced they have and we must look for the next shift in the wind with this generation’s use of tablets and smart phones and the need for instantaneous information. Sailing could be adapted for these modern innovations.

There is a fixation these days on getting more and more money into World Sailing. Let me state that I believe that World Sailing has enough money and should focus on promoting and supporting the foundations on which Sailing was built which is a service to sailors protecting the rights of those who go to sea to race sail boats.

In the next weeks I will address specific issues like “governance”, Olympic Games, and various costs of our beloved sport of sailing.

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