World Sailing Presidential Update – December 2019

Published on January 10th, 2020

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Kim Andersen

World Sailing President Kim Andersen delivers his monthly newsletter to share the activities from the world governing body for the sport of sailing.


I would like to take the opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year! This time of year is often a period for reflection. Back in my October newsletter, I mentioned some of the many achievements and decisions which have been made to excel and develop our sport, but of course we still have much to do and we need to continue our efforts.

I would like to focus on some of the high priorities going forward – how we showcase our sport, our aims to make it gender-balanced and engaged with youth, and an update on plans to reform our governance structure.

At the end of 2019, several Olympic classes held their World Championships in the Southern Hemisphere. The Hyundai 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 Worlds took place in Auckland, New Zealand, with the Finn Worlds following in Melbourne.

These pinnacle events were supported by great organizing clubs – hosting such events is a big challenge but a fantastic experience for everyone involved. I would like to say a big thank you to the clubs and volunteers and congratulations to the medalists and all of the sailors who participated.

An exciting 2019 for sailing was rounded off by the traditional Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the historic 75th edition of the 628 nautical mile race. We were treated to the usual magnificent Boxing Day start at Sydney Harbour, with the scenic finish in Hobart crowning the line honours and overall winners. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Showcasing Our Sport
In 2019, World Sailing’s MNAs (Member National Authorities) finalized the Olympic program for the 2024 Paris Olympics, where Marseille will be the official venue for sailing. During the process over the last year, the Events and Equipment have been changed to showcase our sport in the best possible way and to appeal to a new group of athletes.

To watch an informative video detailing the Slate of Events for 2024, click here.

The great exposure and coverage of our sport has increased tremendously over the past years: the Hempel World Cup Series, SailGP, the 52 Super Series, the Star Sailors League, and the monthly The World Sailing Show, to mention just a few as the list is long! There is something for all sailors with special interests in classes and events, as well as to entice new fans to take an interest in the world of sailing.

The Eurosport channel often broadcasts major events, such as the Rolex Middle Sea Race, while the Hyundai 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 World Championships saw a ground-breaking delivery of media led by Sky Sports, covering 99 of 120 races.

It’s brilliant to see this super increase in the exposure of sailing, but we should also focus our efforts on showcasing and explaining the sport at the same time. I have often said, that if football was presented in as many different ways as sailing is, nobody would understand football!

We should try and use the many new graphic media opportunities we have, together with data and statistics to help people learn the sport. By utilizing this information clearly, we can tell the story of why someone is winning or losing, as well as profiling the heroes of our sport, making it easier for fans old and new to understand.

Gender Balance and Youth Engagement
It is encouraging to see so many initiatives materializing and programs launched worldwide on these issues – as said by UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon: “Gender equality is the responsibility of all people.”

In sailing, we have put gender development discussions at the forefront of our sport, and our gender-balanced 2024 Olympic program sends a clear message to young and future sailors.

At the end of last year, the World Sailing Trust published their Women in Sailing Strategic Review, a wide research-based project which explored gender balance in the sport. The review’s Recommendations will support the work for the World Sailing Trust and its partners across the sailing community to take action in 2020 and beyond.

To read the Strategic Review, click here.

Another important challenge for sailing is attracting and retaining youth – not one size fits all and again it is good to see the ideas and different programs already happening in our regions and countries, across cultures and religions.

While the Youth Olympic Winter Games are kicking off this January in Lausanne, sailing has in the coming years a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop the sport on the African continent by preparing for the Youth Olympics Summer Games in Dakar for 2022 and leaving a legacy.

At the Youth Games, sailing will have a total of 128 athletes and six medals, with World Sailing needing to deliver supplied equipment and have a sustainable legacy plan in place. We also need to run all competitions from the beach, eliminating the requirement for a harbour or marina facilities, in line with the “New Norm” approach to reducing the cost and complexity of the Games. I am sure our respective committees will manage the challenge and deliver a perfect event for the Youth Olympic Games in Dakar 2022.

Governance Reform
The Board considered the options for the Governance Reform after the 2019 Annual Meeting in Bermuda. Key factors considered were that a number of MNAs wanted more time to review the proposal, 64% of the MNAs voted in favor of the reform, and the MNAs resoundingly voted against the proposal to defer the changes to the governance structures to after 2020.

Consequently, the Board agreed that there should be another opportunity for stakeholders to make suggestions for changes to the proposal, and a second vote would be held at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) in April 2020.

This process has commenced and stakeholders have been logging their recommendations on the Governance Commission email. These points will be considered by the Governance Commission in January.

In February, the Board will receive feedback from the Governance Commission on the proposed changes, and we will be able to decide on the changes necessary. But the reform is important and has been supported with a clear majority throughout the process, and it is therefore crucial for MNAs to provide their input in the next two weeks.

The Board has received letters from a group of MNAs wanting to cancel the planned EGM meeting and again seeking to defer the decision until after 2020. This form letter was sent to a wide distribution list, which has resulted in comments from many MNAs expressing their disappointment and concern at the campaign being run by those who are resistant to change. These MNAs have encouraged us to continue with the project and the EGM.

CEO Update
With regards to the process of appointing a new Chief Executive Officer, we have appointed Odgers Berndtson as our executive search partner. This critical assignment will be led by their Managing Partner Simon Cummins, who is a keen and active day skipper.

Odgers are among the leading executive search firms in global sport and are very experienced in the world of IFs, NGBs, NOCs and the Olympic and Paralympic ecosystem.

Many potential candidates have shown interest in the World Sailing CEO position. If you would like to apply for the role, please email your CV and a covering note to Federico Filippi at federico.filippi@odgersberndtson.com.

I would like to thank all of the applicants for the interest shown in this very important role for World Sailing. Finally, I would like to leave you with World Sailing’s video summarizing 2019 in sailing, showcasing the best bits from a range of classes and regattas across the year!

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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.

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