It’s about Participation, not Perks

Published on January 7th, 2020

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
I had never attended the World Sailing Annual Conference, so when it came to the USA in 2018 I crossed the country to get a visual. People wondered why I would so willingly welcome torture, but there comes a time in everyone’s life where you got do what you got to do.

It proved to be a remarkable week, in part because the attendees were so appreciative I was there. An organization tasked with looking after a sport in all corners of the globe is going to get grief, and World Sailing gets its share. However, what I saw was a pile of people just trying their best to do the right thing. It was refreshing.

Such a positive experience needed a sequel, but with the 2019 conference in Bermuda, I knew costs would be more than the previous year in Sarasota, Florida. This was on the minds of a lot of people, as it’s important that all the Member National Authorities (MNAs) be represented for votes. My fears were realized each time I went for a $20 glass of Chardonnay. Ouch!

I won’t be going to the 2020 conference in Abu Dhabi, UAE. I got a hunch my Chardonnay isn’t getting any cheaper, and I do wonder about the need to host this annual gathering in expensive locations. I understand the event needs to circulate the globe, but maximizing attendance should be the overarching goal.

World Sailing is now inviting MNAs and Host Cities to bid for the 2021 Annual Conference on
October 23-31, using the standard tactic of how the conference creates significant local revenue including approximately 1,500 hotel nights, local transport use, spend at restaurants, and tourist activities.

However, what about a decent airport hotel to make it affordable? Just like when organizing a competition, focus on keeping the mid-fleeters happy, not the trophy winners. I’m still stinging from my $50 cab ride to the Bermuda airport, partly because it reminded me I’d been indoors the entire trip.

Anyway, I hope to attend again in the future, and for any Host City wishing for that, they can apply to host and organize World Sailing’s 2021 Annual Conference by submitting a bid no later than 17:00 (UK time) on March 30, 2020. For bid information, click here.

World Sailing’s Board of Directors will review proposals in April 2020 before site visits of shortlisted cities by World Sailing’s Business Operations Manager in May 2020. A decision on the Host City will be made by the Board by June 2020.

Bids should be sent to Rowena Farrugia, Business Operations Manager via email to or by post to World Sailing, 20 Eastbourne Terrace, Paddington, London, W2 6LG, UK.

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