Refining the mission of World Sailing

Published on May 30th, 2019

World Sailing’s 2019 Mid-Year Meeting allowed the public to witness the processes of the organization, bringing together World Sailing delegates on May 17-19 in London, Great Britain.

In his speech to Council at the Mid-Year meeting, World Sailing President Kim Andersen (above) detailed the status of the four strategic goals in the World Sailing Strategy plan:

This is the first time that we have all been together in person since Sarasota, and we really cannot underestimate the value of these face to face meetings and discussions in person. Once again, this finds us all meeting at an important time for World Sailing where the discussions we have and the decisions we make will have an impact on our sport and our organisation.

I have now been at the helm of World Sailing for two and a half years, and I really believe that we have a lot to be proud of which I will come on to shortly. When I was first elected, I felt that Sailing was at a crossroads. Different opinions about our future direction and priorities were preventing us from achieving our potential. Now after two and a half years, I believe we are making good progress to turn our broad nature into an advantage. I believe that we have a lot to be proud of.

I would like to thank the Committee and Commission Members and Working Parties for putting in so much time and great work into taking World Sailing forward: we have left the crossroads.

Two and a half years ago, we started engaging with MNAs and sailors: The World Sailing ‘Questioner’ gathering information to contribute to The World Sailing Strategy 2018 – 2022. We then had the Questioner taking into account the service from the office and the questioners following proceedings at events such as the Annual Conference.

All these initiatives were setting the direction for The World Sailing Strategy 2018 – 2022, plotting a course and defining the priorities for World Sailing.

When looking at the whole sport of sailing we have a lot of dilemmas regarding our sport and Olympic venue, which we have not managed to deal with historically:

• We accepted that our diversity has been used against us, when it should be seen as a positive.
• We accepted that we were not media friendly, by missing out on embracing New Media.
• We accepted that sailing is targeted at men, not yet making a full effort with gender equality.
• We accepted that sailing is complex and expensive as a sport when you compare it with other sports looking at the total costs of coaching, education, transportation, general costs, etc, especially at Olympic level.
• We did not focus on the developments globally and on youth development and interests.
• We accepted that Sailing is ranked in the lower quartile of Olympic sport.

To reverse all these misunderstandings and fight the “stigmatization”, World Sailing must have a clear and transparent mission for our Olympic events. Our strategy is clear:

“Ensure that the Olympic Sailing event and format proposals for the 2024 Olympic Games are entirely aligned with the IOC Agenda 2020 and of the best possible showcase for the sport.”

We also have a goal to strengthen the relationship with the Olympic family.
This relationship goes both ways! The Games has challenges, but they are still in a strong place.

The Games audience are not getting younger! The IOC is investing in the Olympic Broadcast Service, but we as a sport have to make sure that our sport is keeping up with changes and developments in society. We need to keep on attracting youth and making sure we are representing our sport and diversity in the best possible way, benefiting our games presentation by growing our sport in time and getting it to a bigger and younger audience. On top of this, bringing these contributions to the Games, and strengthening the total games presentation.

That’s a two-way relationship.

I am convinced that many MNAs around the world are battling with Gender and youth participation, with this being the reason for the majority vote we have seen consistently throughout the Olympic events process. I believe that a lot of MNAs are recognizing the importance of developing our sport and using the Olympic status in the process and the possibilities given by the IOC Agenda 2020 for the change in The Olympic Program for Paris 2024.

The program for Paris 2024 will be:

• To promote the diversity of our great sport,Kite, windsurf, Cats, singlehanded & double-handed dinghy, skiff and Offshore sailing.
• To promote and grow universality in all the events measured on Continents and nations.
• To increase women’s participation and gender equality of athletes and events/medals.
• Showcasing new events, Kite relay, 470 mixed teams, and offshore sailing
• By adopting eSailing on the offshore event it’s clear that the Olympics will be attracting existing and new audiences to the Olympic event.

The dilemma for our Olympic venue is that we only have 10 medals and 350 sailors to showcase our great sport, but by continuing with the status quo we are not doing the job of developing our great sport of Sailing.

I’m happy to report that on the Kite testing, the new Mixed Olympic discipline, is successful! We need to do the same job with the Mixed Offshore Olympic discipline: the criticism regarding Kite is now changed to actually understanding the new discipline and its many positives. We need to do the same job on the Offshore discipline.

The third dimension is the competition between sports to gain or maintain Olympic status. This depends on our deliveries to the Games program, and here the Olympic events for Paris 2024 will add value to the Games program as mentioned before.

We have a strong platform in the 2024 events to deal with the challenges of Sailing’s Olympic future. The Paris Games have included new sports which will need approximately 250 athletes coming from the existing total of 10,500 athletes, adding pressure to quotas.

Dealing with the reality, our main focus is:

• To avoid cuts in athlete numbers
• To improve the sports presentation and increase the media figures
• To strengthen Sailing’s platform by enabling Sailing to move category
• To stay a core sport at the evaluation after the 2024 Olympics.

Events Strategy
An ongoing discussion has been to establish an Events Strategy better serving sailing and all our stakeholders in order to promote and grow sailing worldwide. The present structure is not ideal, with numerous challenges such as continental seasonality, the dominance of Europe and its events legacy and the cost of campaigning for MNAs and Olympic Committees. There is much to do, and you will hear the report from the Working Party in more detail about the strategy for 2021-2028 which has taken on board past learnings and is looking at putting a strong events structure in place to serve sailors, MNAs, Classes and the many other stakeholders in our sport.

Equipment Selection
On Equipment selection we have had multiple levels for the evaluations, one being the regulation 23, another one being the new regulations implemented in 2017 regarding EU compliance, and the latest requirement to all Olympic equipment to be FRAND compliant. Considering the new slate of events for the Paris Olympics 2024 I think we should all carefully consider the total impact of the changes, having already agreed to have two new events and changes to other existing events in 2024. We should limit the impact of equipment changes. Regarding the Laser situation, the last few days have been intensive. I am happy to report that both parties feel committed supporting the sport and keeping supplies intact.


I am delighted to let you all know that the hard work of the Governance Commission has continued these past six months under the leadership of the independent chair, Maria Clarke. You will remember that Maria presented the initial findings of the Commission in Sarasota, followed by the opportunity to provide feedback.

Over these past months, all feedback and input has been gathered, and we will receive an update from the Commission on the proposed revision of the existing Governance structure.

This is really important work and will lead to a simplified and more open and efficient decision-making process and strengthening a clear and transparent reporting structure.

I am convinced the new structure will help us to showcase the wide diversity of our sport in a better way and create a better foundation for decisions within our sport. We need to focus wider than the Olympics and we are lacking in-depth discussions.


We have received criticism for implementing regulations agreed at the November meeting in 2017: dealing with conflicts of interests of race management. It’s an issue that we have to deal with, but of course on the other hand we know that officials with conflicts are often very experienced. It’s clearly a dilemma. However, we need to have rules in place securing the integrity of our sport. I am sure that you would agree that that you would not allow any employee of a national football authority to be the judge of a football match involving that same nation.

Olympic equipment contract changes have been discussed with Olympic classes and together with the FRAND compliance agreed in November will be part of the Olympic Classes contracts. But let us be clear: this is a major process for Olympic Classes and World Sailing to solve together. Regarding the quality control of equipment manufacturers agreed by Council, the principles are agreed, and it is the same for FRAND, but every class is different and there will not be a ‘one fits all’ system. Classes have all proposed a FRAND system subject to the approval of World Sailing being the basis of the decisions you make at this Council meeting, still subject to final approval.


Attracting youth and new sailors
This brings me on to attracting youth and new sailors and reducing the drop-out rate from sailing. The youth are the future of our sport. With so much competition striving for their attention, sailing must be more dynamic in providing a competitive product.

We need to have programs at a grassroots level which teach young people more than ‘just’ sailing.

The regional development of Asia and China is strong and well-structured and it’s a pleasure to see the cooperation between MNAs. The latest major initiative is the introduction of a strong new program developed for Asia and Africa, funded by UAE and the Abu Dhabi Sports council. I am looking forward to following the success of this program in the years to come. The program will be officially introduced in the coming weeks.

Our Emerging Nations Program for the next level is a good example of the success that can be achieved in this regard.

Throughout last year, we continued to make great strides on our digital platforms, and we are reaching a younger fan base than ever before. We are posting more content than ever before which reaches millions of people on a monthly basis.

Youth sailing development is important and with the changes in the Olympic program we need to check the structure and the pathways. But also looking ahead to the Youth Olympics in Dakar, Senegal in 2022, the IOC has asked the sports to see the disciplines as part of the pathway. This is a change from the previous brief, where testing new innovative disciplines like a “sports lab” was the brief. I know that our Youth Committee is already focusing on these adjustments.

Para Sailing continues to be at the forefront of our minds. We need to live with the fact that it is not being included in the Paris 2024 Olympics, but we are still pushing to strengthen and grow participation, and to secure being part of all major regional and Continental Championships.

The Sustainability strategy has been well received by all stakeholders, from the UN, The IOC and down to events and clubs around the world. We need to continue the journey and to create a win-win implementation of all the great experiences. A lot of interest, exchange of knowledge and best practices are taking place daily. Let’s keep the momentum up on all fronts!

We have successfully established a sustainability foundation in our World Sailing Trust structure and we have no reason not to believe in a positive development here.

eSailing is continuing to grow and new national platforms are developing. The introduction of the eSailing World Championship has proven to be a great success and has engaged a new and younger audience.
But what are our challenges?
I have talked a lot about our achievements, but I also must remind all of us here today, and indeed the whole sailing community, about the importance and relevance of the values of respect, friendship, tolerance, understanding and solidarity. You have heard me say this before, but I want to make it clear: we hold these values in high esteem and must keep them at the front of our minds as we seek to promote and grow our sport.

Six months on from Sarasota I feel the need to remind our community about the negative effects of fake news and gossip being spread with no basis or foundation.

Again, I entreat you all to seek out the truth on all matters: don’t spread rumours and let’s all work together to make sailing an even greater sport!

Our regulations and governance processes are clear but in managing them in a political environment the clarity sometimes gets lost, especially if you do not agree with what has been voted for by a clear majority. Lately I have been receiving questions regarding the media coverage of what’s seen as IOC interference in the decision process within World Sailing advocating changing decisions already agreed according to regulations and processes, and with a clear majority. I can only believe this must be a misquote as the IOC would not interfere in the processes of an International Federation. On the contrary, we are in good and regular contact with the IOC Executive and all relevant bodies on a positive and constructive basis.


So, in conclusion, I would like us to put our time and energy into working together to pull in the same direction. We need to respect ourselves as a community and work together to strengthen our sport for success in the future.

I have covered a lot of ground here today and I continue to believe that we can and should be building an even stronger organization, more transparent in decision making and open in conversation and collaboration. With the support of all of you here today and those around the world, we can develop our great sport.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Source: World Sailing

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