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Inclusion is The Way Forward

Published on November 8th, 2016

World Sailing’s 2016 Annual Conference brings together international delegates this week in Barcelona, Spain. Here’s an update from November 8:

Paralympic sailing has been an especially hot topic since the news in February 2015 that sailing would be dropped from the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2020.

Little surprise perhaps then that given the strength of feeling that ensued, today’s forum on Para World Sailing in which the proposed pathway back into the Games would be announced, was so well attended.

Geoff Holt, the record holding quadriplegic sailor, who played a part in getting sailing into the Paralympic Games, opened the session via a video link presentation.

“The issue is not simply about getting a few elite athletes to the Games,” he explained. “You don’t get the Paralympic end without the grass roots at the bottom. Once you get elite sailors you create role models that inspire those grass roots sailors. It’s very important to have a pathway.”

And it was the outline structure of this pathway that was announced by Para World Sailing Manager Massimo Dighe. Details on Para World Sailing Strategic Plan here.

His presentation started by highlighting the initial goal of 32 countries in three regions that is required by the International Paralympic Committee. The first goal he said was to increase worldwide participation.

To achieve this there were a number of key areas that he outlined including; enlisting support from the various Member National Authorities (MNA), attracting youth sailors, fostering Paralympic cooperation, increasing diversity as well as considering the issue of equipment availability.

With the detailed strategy that was unveiled were World Sailing’s targets for this increase in worldwide participation which sees the 32 nations and 3 regions criteria met by 2017 but which exceeds the IPC requirements to 40 nations and 4 regions by 2020.

Also included in his presentation was the outline timetable for the Paralympic equipment plan in which he said that the new classes needed to be identified by August 2017.

“The 2017 Para Worlds will be used to introduce and test the new equipment which will make this the most important Para Worlds for many years,” he said.

In addition to the new boats, there are plans to introduce new competition formats that are, ‘spectator friendly, modern, fast paced stadium sailing.’

Following Dighe’s presentation, RYA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Treseder added her support to the new plans and outlined the RYA’s strategy to engage and develop Paralympic sailing in the UK.

“We are continuing to develop events in this field and are more interested in the breadth of participation rather than developing an elite band of sailors,” she said.

Her presentation outlined the various areas that the organisation has found delivers results starting with understanding who their delivery partners are and how best to develop racing and regattas. And while equipment is a big issue, she highlighted how this topic isn’t always at the top of the list when considering Paralympic development.

“Sometimes there’s a temptation to focus on equipment and jump first into this conversation,” she said.

The following two speakers gave accounts of how Paralympic sailing was developing in their own countries, first Kylli Haav from Estonia provided a reminder of how challenging it can be while Emma Hallen explained how the Swedish sailing foundation Trim the Sails, aims to include Paralympic sailing into normal sailing programmes.

“Our goal is not to be needed,” she said. “We believe that all our sailors should be included in the same structure. Inclusion is our way forward.”

Conference detailsLive blogFacebook

Source: Matthew Sheahan – Sunset+Vine

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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