The Other Presidential Election

Published on November 7th, 2016

by Rob Kothe
Away from the drama, real and imagined, which is playing out in the USA and their Presidential election, World Sailing conference registrants are assembled in Barcelona on Spain’s north east Med. Coast for another election – the all-important four yearly vote for Presidential and Board positions at this year’s Annual Conference on November 5 to 13.

It is interesting to note that for the last 10 months the host country Spain was without an elected Government, with Mariano Rajoy’s conservative party acting in caretaker mode. Interestingly the country has thrived without political decisions, it’s the fastest recovering economy in the European Union.

It seemed to many observers that ISAF-World Sailing had a caretaker President during 2012-2016, with Carlo Croce, appearing to be very hands-off style. He and his seven-person executive seeming somewhat disconnected and it is difficult to point to serious progress made across those years.

One of the reasons why World Sailing has appeared like a blancmange over some decades now, has been the submission system which has meant the last two days of annual council has been focused on processing some hundreds and hundreds of MNA requests for changes often moving in opposite directions.

Two years ago in Palma, Mallorca, this scribe saw example after example of as much time being spent on trivial and often quite uniformed Council decision making, as was spent on major decisions which had long term ramifications.

The lack of urgency in finding a replacement after the exit of its Chief Executive Officer Jerome Pels (Oct 2014), followed by five months of Peter Sowrey in 2015 (July 1- Dec 2), who resigned after a rocky time at the 2015 Annual Conference was not a high point for the ISAF leadership group. But the appointment of Andy Hunt (Jan 11, 2016) has at least provided some leadership at functional level and the changes made in July may have improved the decision-making processes.

For the last four years, we have continued to hear how World Sailing is poised ready to make a commercial success of the Sailing World Cup and Version Five now ahead of us.

Former President Paul Henderson has been vocal on the matter of the looming crisis with Kite Boarding looking for two Olympic places, at other sailing class’s expense while at the same time the International Kite Sports Federation warning World Sailing to stay out of the sport.

So, with many stakeholders unimpressed with the lack of progress over the last four years, Denmark’s Kim Andersen has presented a strong bid to replace Carlo Croce and could provide a weekend upset. We will look at the possible makeup of the Board later this week.

Interesting times ahead!

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Rob Kothe was the Founder of the Sail-World.com network

About World Sailing’s Annual Conference
World Sailing’s Annual Conference brings together up to 700 delegates every first full week of November. It is the central meeting point where the strategy of sailing is reviewed, discussed and celebrated. Over the Annual Conference, participants plan for the future, make key decisions to drive the sport forward, share best practice and generate new ideas. The 2016 Annual Conference will be held in Barcelona, Spain at the Hotel Renaissance Barcelona Fira on November 5-13.

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