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Hey bartender, pour me another

Published on January 19th, 2020

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
As the international federation for the sport of sailing, World Sailing makes decisions that impact all corners of the globe. Given the diversity of the world, it’s an impossible task, but to effectively understand the issues of each region, the decision-making process includes all the Member National Authorities (MNAs).

However, the governance of World Sailing is antiquated, insufficiently nimble, and generally deemed by the MNAs as in need of change. To address this issue, World Sailing recruited outside consultants, allegedly spent $300,000 to design a new governance structure, and presented it for vote at the 2019 Annual Conference in Bermuda.

But with change comes trust, and trust at that time was at an all-time low. With finances drained and the CEO just fired, along with the shuffle of Olympic classes feeling forced, having confidence in this new plan from the organization’s leadership was in short supply.

Not surprisingly, the new governance plan, a heady document that promoted top down management with less input from most countries, failed to gain the necessary vote. With leadership confounded, as change was requested yet resisted, the plan was to call an audible and get another bite of the apple.

Following the expense of the 2019 meeting in Bermuda, World Sailing President Kim Andersen has tentatively scheduled what is termed an ‘Extraordinary Meeting’ in London on April 4 to vote again on the Governance.

However, that is still not certain as the Oceania region is pushing for the meeting to be in Abu Dhabi… which is already the not very affordable venue for the 2020 World Sailing Annual Conference. (This would be a good time to freshen your drink.)

Without the option of an online vote, and attendance required to say yay or nay, it is suspected that only the larger/wealthier nations that might benefit from the new structure will attend, whereas the mid-size and small nations which have big issues with this new Governance will be unable to attend.

This extra meeting is viewed as quite the powerplay as the 2020 Annual Conference in the fall is an election year, and Andersen will be up for vote as to whether he gets another 4-year term. With the prospective opposition candidates apparently opposed to the new Governance, this could be now or never.

However, by pursuing it could also doom Kim’s re-election hopes, as nearly a quarter of the MNAs have submitted letters to World Sailing expressing their discontent, with the angst coming from the Caribbean, Central America, South America and 10 countries in Southern Europe.

The only countries in the Western Hemisphere who have not objected are Canada and USA, though both have sent in lists of changes needed. In the end, upwards of 50 nations of approximately 170 MNAs could oppose this extra meeting strategy.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just the new normal. There’s Harry and Meghan drama within the British royal family, there’s political drama in the USA, and now Governance drama within World Sailing. “Hey bartender, pour me another.”

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