World Sailing Presidential Update – October 2019
Published on November 12th, 2019
World Sailing President Kim Andersen delivers his monthly newsletter to share the activities from the world governing body for the sport of sailing.
October and the early November was an extremely busy period for the sport, both on the water and with the key discussions and decisions being made at the World Sailing Annual Conference in Bermuda.
I had the great pleasure of visiting Oman in early October to meet the team behind Oman Sail who were hosts of the 2019 Optimist Asian and Oceanic Championship. It was great to experience the atmosphere of 146 young sailors from 21 nations embracing the opportunity to forge new friendships whilst enjoying the competition. The event demonstrated that there is strong youth development taking place in Asia and the Oceanic region.
I also had a chance to catch up with the 19 World Sailing Member National Authorities (MNAs) participating in the Asian Sailing Federation’s Annual General Meeting at the same venue. As sailors, we have a great responsibility – to protect the waters of the world – and during the visit, I was fortunate to meet many of the sailors during a beach clean. It was a great way to familiarize ourselves with what we have to do to preserve the environment for our sport.
Catching up and keeping on track with development of World Sailing
Three years ago, I thanked you for electing me and I talked about my manifesto to increase the reach and appeal of sailing including:
• Keeping sailing in the Olympics by increasing participation and growing the global audience.
• Growing the sport geographically by creating a competitive offering for youth globally.
• Increasing the levels of transparency in our governance.
Returning from our Annual Conference it is good to reflect on some major achievements within World Sailing during the last three years.
The slate of events and equipment for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games truly showcases the diversity of our sport. We are gender balanced and will have a true universal representation of the diversity of our sport.
We have Kiteboarding, Foiling Windsurfing, Single and Doublehanded Dinghies, Skiffs, and an Offshore Keelboat. This will showcase our sport, and its development, in the best possible way in Paris and we will see more nations participating in Olympic qualifiers than ever before, highlighting the universality of sailing and adding real value to the Olympic programme. Last, but by no means least, we have confirmed the programme for our MNAs so they can best prepare for the next quadrennial.
Para World Sailing remains a top priority for us all. In Bermuda we released the strategy through to 2023, so that we can continue to grow, promote, and develop all Para disciplines worldwide. Para sailing has a unique capacity to include people from all ages and abilities.
Alongside our encouragement to MNAs to make Para sailing more inclusive and welcoming at all levels domestically, we are fostering ongoing development and providing an exciting programme of events. We have made positive steps forward over the past few years with the Para Sailing Development Programmes (PDPs) to increase participation by 30%, but we won’t rest until the sport is back on the Paralympic Sports Programme.
It is vital that World Sailing sits at the forefront of sport globally. Strong partnerships with the Olympic family and the United Nations in establishing our leadership position in sustainability has truly driven engagement.
World Sailing has embraced the core principles of the IOC’s Agenda 2020 and the New Norm and this is clearly embedded in the Paris 2024 Olympic Events and Equipment and the 2021-2028 events strategy. Furthermore, we are setting the benchmark for sustainability and simulation eSports with the IOC and ASOIF who we engage with positively.
We continue to ensure our measures are compliant with the European Union (EU) competition laws and fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory principles for suppliers of Olympic Equipment and the way of implementing and improving quality standards.
Relocation of the World Sailing office
The World Sailing office was relocated to London – an international hub, easy to access for our stakeholders, and a good platform for establishing an international organization. The change of location was needed and if you ask a major part of the international sailing community, long overdue.
New Sailing World Cup Strategy
After years of struggling with a World Cup format, a new strategy has been developed and approved for the quadrennial leading to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The strategy has a clear focus with the Olympics, the Olympic Class World Championships, and the Sailing World Cup being the pinnacle events and building on existing major events for earning ranking points. As part of the strategy an annual events schedule has been agreed to minimize the clash of events and at the same time taking into account the northern and southern hemisphere planning of events.
World Sailing’s media outreach continues to engage new and existing audiences. Across all of our platforms the growth from 2016 to 2019 has been impressive.
At the end of 2017, our Facebook views figure was at 2.8 million. This steadily increased to 3.3 million in 2018 but throughout the last year the growth has really come into its own. Through engagement with major events, classes and MNAs, we’ve focused on telling compelling stories through video and we’ve achieved 8.1 million views – surpassing the last two years together.
Viewership across all platforms combined is in excess of 15 million views and our Instagram had its biggest period of growth in 2019 with 25k new followers.
The engagement with SAP for visualizing our sport to sailors and sailing fans and the efficient use of content and assets has enabled us to tailor content specifically to each platform and audience. We are experiencing great engagement with the sailing community and most importantly the youth.
Lastly, our Hempel World Cup Series broadcast output from 2016 to 2019 has increased from 20 to 60 channels with more than 15 million unique viewers watching our output globally. We’re working hard to engage Olympic Rights Holding Broadcasters ahead of Tokyo 2020 to ensure sailing is in a good position ahead of the Games.
We have just completed our second year of the eSailing World Championship, which has been a great success for the sport. Through our long-term platform partnership with Virtual Regatta, there are now 1.4m unique eSailing players, with 320k playing the inshore game, which we expect to further grow to 500k players in the coming months.
In 2019 we have organized six national eSailing Championships and developed a partnership with SailGP to include eSailing. We have sailors, MNAs, classes, and event organizers fully engaged with the core principles of the eSailing platform and its values, which is providing brilliant global exposure. We have exciting plans ahead for 2020 and for maintaining the leadership role that we are playing in simulation eSports within the Olympic movement.
The Annual Conference also allowed us to discuss the various global initiatives and the good work that has been delivered globally. Through our work with the Emerging Nations Programme, we have enabled Mozambique to qualify to the Olympic Games in sailing for the first time and we will see more nations to qualify for the first time in the final continental qualifiers for Tokyo 2020.
Para World Sailing participation has grown through the PDP and there is more emphasis than ever on establishing grassroots support and youth programmes. The focus on grass roots, youth programs has fostered a lot of new initiatives around the world.
World Sailing Trust
This year we have launched four exciting projects – three in marine health: educational resources on six topics in eight languages, sailing club guidance and tools, and World Sailing Ocean Heroes online platform and workshop pilots.
Earlier this year, the World Sailing Trust launched an independent Strategic Review on Women in Sailing, generously supported by Andrew Pindar. A global survey was launched, supported by Qualtrix and SAP, offered in five languages and supplemented with 40 1:1 interviews and research into other sports’ work around gender diversity.
The survey received over 4,500 responses from 75 countries, with 25% male and 75% female respondents from across the sport from age 11 to 83.
The survey revealed strong experiences of discrimination across our sport: 80% of women and 56% of men believed that gender discrimination is an issue in sailing. In addition, 59% of women and 14% of men have had personal experience of gender discrimination. Both of these beliefs and experiences intensified with age.
The issue was not isolated to one particular nation or culture and is prevalent globally. The review demonstrates that there is a clear need to create change in this issue, to ensure that women and girls are welcomed into sailing, growing the sailing community which is so crucial for the longevity of our sport’s future.
To support this ambition, key recommendations have been put forward by the World Sailing Trust for World Sailing to consider and the full report will be published at the end of November.
World Sailing already has a leading programme of sailing events at Paris 2024 with four mixed disciplines and three male and female categories and I’m pleased in the direction we’ve taken and what we have to do moving forward.
I’m very supportive of the report’s recommendations which include developing a gender charter and equality policies, looking at equipment design and event organization, and offering coaching and career transition programmes. We’re looking forward to working with the World Sailing Trust and with all of you in our community on this crucial issue.
Sustainability Agenda 2030
World Sailing implemented a sustainability strategy being first mover amongst Olympic sports and recognized by UN and the IOC. A strong tool for engaging youth programmes and links to sponsors taking a constructive approach to environmental responsibilities.
Our Sustainability Agenda 2030 continues to grow and engage. I was delighted that World Sailing picked up two international awards from the IOC and Beyond Sport for our work, highlighting us as leaders in Sustainability. Winning the awards also comes with significant funding to further our work as well as carbon credits to offset all of our emissions in 2019. To read more, click here.
In Bermuda, we also announced RYA / The Green Blue as recipients of the 2019 World Sailing 11th Hour Racing Sustainability Award. The 20 applicants truly showcased the work being done in this area but the RYA / The Green Blue’s environmental initiatives were outstanding. Many congratulations to them.
I am happy to see our MNAs working on sustainability and we have also developed a number of resources to help educate the next generation of sailors. In partnership with the World Sailing Trust and The Ocean Race with support of 11th Hour Racing we will soon release educational resources which will be available in eight languages.
I believe World Sailing can be truly proud of these achievements, – a lot of progress has been made, but with a clear direction and by keeping momentum despite of some critics on the way. The organization, the committees, working parties and board has worked tirelessly and committed to correct and get ready for the next quad in time.
The disappointment of our proposal to reform the governance of World Sailing to refresh the foundations of our future still needs some digestion. Any reform of our governance requires a 75% majority of our MNAs and this is there for a reason so we understand its widespread appeal. A 50% majority would not be a solid platform for reform. But what’s not clear is the basis for rejection.
Of our 144 MNAs, 94% indicated that change is needed, – when asked. Our Council asked the Board over two years ago to deliver a new governance structure for this year’s AGM, bringing the powers of all continents and MNAs together. At the AGM, only 64% of the represented MNAs supported the change.
Maybe understanding that selecting a new structure is accepting to adopt work in progress and some clear principles for the new structure, – as the final result is not possible for a constantly living organization in an ever-changing world.
The Board will call an Extraordinary General Meeting next year to consider the proposals again with the benefit of further consultation, so it is now time for MNAs to get together and use the time to understand the reform principles and structure to make sure there is a clear majority of our members that support the reform before May next year.
World Sailing’s Finances
It has come to the attention of World Sailing’s Board of Directors that some inaccurate statements were published regarding World Sailing’s finances. Let me stress that World Sailing remains open and transparent regarding its finances and regularly presents its management accounts as well as formal annual audited accounts to its members.
The financial reports are presented annually at the Annual Conference and approved at the Annual General Meeting. For the latest financial reports, click here.
Like many International Federations, World Sailing presented ambitious plans for commercial income from sponsorship at the start of the quadrennial in 2016, which have not fully materialized.
In addition, 2017-2020 has seen a number of major non-recurring investments in infrastructure. These typically are spread across a 10-year cycle but have been necessary in the past three years, which has significantly increased expenditure in this period. This expenditure is not expected to recur in the next quadrennial.
These investments include the move of the World Sailing offices from Southampton to London. This move was required due to the termination of the Southampton office lease in 2017, a new IT platform, and further development initiatives that have created a new profile for the short and long term benefit of our sport.
The forecast budget for 2020 has been prepared on a conservative basis and only the revenue currently contracted is included. This means that there is a potential upside if the current proposals for commercial income are successful. Any questions pertaining to information about World Sailing’s finances should request comment or verification from World Sailing.
(While freedom of speech is a vital right, it also must come with responsibility, and that is not always present, particularly with the online platforms now available. Too often I read commentary based on incomplete facts, or worse, opinion pushers who have undisclosed agendas. Just as Joe Jackson mocked the media in his song Sunday Papers, saying “They wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true,” yes they would. – Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt)
World Sailing Awards
The tension around the World Sailing Awards is stunning. The anticipation mounts to an exciting evening for all the nominees in attendance and there is an unrivaled passion from the audience that makes it a unique event.
I have to congratulate the female Rolex World Sailor of the Year, Anne-Marie Rindom for her stunning season in the Laser Radial and Marco Gradoni, the youngest recipient of the award, for winning his third Optimist World Championship.
Congratulations to the recipients of other awards. To check them all out, click here.
I hope that this monthly newsletter continues to provide you with insights into the direction of our organization and our sport. As always, should you have any questions, concerns or insights please feel free to get in contact with me via email, Facebook, or Twitter.