Quotas for Olympic entries finalised at ISAF meeting

It was decision-time in Busan today as the Council of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) considered the Submissions made to this year's ISAF Annual Conference.

The ISAF Council is the final decision-making body of ISAF and today at their meeting in Busan, Korea today they addressed the principal issues up for debate at this year's Annual Conference.

ISAF decision-making is based around Submissions, proposals to amend, delete or add a policy or regulation. During the Annual Conference, ISAF's Committees address Submissions relating to their specific areas of the sport. Submissions are considered by one or more Committees, but each Submission has only one Reporting Committee. The recommendations of all Committees are then collated into a Recommendation Booklet provided to the members of the ISAF Council. During the Council meeting itself, the Submissions are considered in blocks presented by the chairman of the respective Reporting Committees. The Council then make the final decision on Approving, Rejecting or Deferring a Submission.

Before moving on to consider the 100+ Submissions made to this year's Conference, the Council had several other key issues to cover on their Agenda. ISAF President Göran Petersson began the meeting by providing a brief update on relations with International Sports Organizations, referring to his report yesterday where he reference some of the more detailed conclusions from the IOC Session and Congress. (Click here for read the full President's Report – http://www.sailing.org/meetings/30269.php)

Another early item on the Agenda was the application from Oceania Sailing Federation for affiliate membership, which was approved subject to a small change to bring their constitution into line with ISAF's requirements.

The discussion then moved on to the one of the major talking points in Busan over the past few days, the format of the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition. Chris Atkins, chairman of the Events Committee, gave an overview of his Committee's recommendations.

Related to the match racing format, Atkins explained the reason for the Events Committee's recommendation for 12 teams competing in a single-round robin, with the top eight going through to the knockout stages feature quarter finals, semi finals, petit final and final. Focussing specifically on the choice of a single, rather than a double round robin, he explained, “Looking at sailing as part of the Olympic Games there are a few additional considerations. Within Olympic events, sailing is the longest Olympic event – a double round robin would make match racing the longest single event in the Olympic Games.

He added, “If we go for a single round robin, we'd be mirroring the format of the highly successful World Match Racing Tour, which is going from strength-to-strength.”

The Council supported this recommendation and then moved on to look at the qualification system and entry quotas for the 10 sailing events at London 2012.

With the reduction of 11 to 10 sailing events for 2012, Atkins explained there now a requirement to redistribute some of the extra competitors (in 2008 there were 400 competitors spread across 11 events compared to 380 across 10 in 2009). “We used the extras to do two things: firstly to increase the proportion of women competitors; and secondly to increase the number of nations competing.

“Summarizing overall, women as a percentage in 2008 were at 34.8%, this increases it to 37.6%. This is still well ahead of the 26.6% of the entries at the Sailing World Cup. So we're keeping the Olympic Sailing Competition ahead of what is happening in the reality in the sailing world.”

Atkins then went on to present the proposed entry quotas for the Olympic events as:

Men's One Person Dinghy – Laser: 48 boats – 48 athletes
Men's One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn: 25 boats – 25 athletes
Men's Two Person Dinghy – 470: 27 boats – 54 athletes
Men's Two Person Dinghy High Performance – 49er: 20 boats – 40 athletes
Men's Windsurfer – RS:X: 38 boats – 38 athletes
Men's Keelboat – Star: 16 boats – 32 athletes
Women's One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial: 39 boats – 39 athletes
Women's Two Person Dinghy – 470: 20 boats – 40 athletes
Women's Keelboat Match Racing – Elliott 6m: 12 boats – 36 athletes
Women's Windsurfer – RS:X: 28 boats – 28 athletes

One place in each event will be granted to the host country, 75% of nation places in each event will be decided at Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships, with the remaining 25% at a 2012 regatta held in each Olympic event.

The Council approved this system and it will now be sent to the International Olympic Committee for final approval, with the final Qualification System to be published in April 2010.

Atkins then addressed the issue of redress in the Medal Race, in particular whether or not redress should be allowed in the event of starting or course-signalling errors by the Race Committee (point six in the paper on the issue). “In favour of having no redress under point six was the fact that it's only 10 boats [competing in the Medal Race] and we've got ISAF's very best Race Officials out there. In favour of against was the fact that it's better to have it in there 'just in case'. The Events Committee was in favour of simplicity and therefore of no redress except under RRS 62.1(c) [giving help in compliance with rule 1.1],” he explained.

There was some discussion of this around the Council table, with Bernard Bonneau (FRA) giving the view of the Racing Rules Committee that this proposal was taking a very black and white position. However the Council was in agreement with the Events Committee and voted to approve their recommendation.

With the decisions made on the London 2012 Games, the Council received updates on the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and this year's ISAF events and ISAF Sailing World Cup.

Vice-President Alberto Predieri (ITA) reported to the Council on the first year of the ISAF Sailing World Cup series. “I want to reminder you that this time last year, this event did not exist,” he said. Predieri compared the first year of the World Cup to the same time in the last Olympic cycle and revealed that entry numbers across the World Cup events were up 30% in 2009 compared to 2005. “It shows us the Sailing World Cup is truly appealing to the sailors,” he said. “We also all have to recognise the event organizers, who, with a really forward-looking approach, have embraced the World Cup.”

Following updates on the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships and America's Cup, the Council then moved on to address the 126 Submissions made to this year's Conference (plus nine Deferred Submissions). The Submissions relating to Olympic events for 2016 and beyond and equipment evaluation trials were deferred as per the recommendation of the Events Committee, who wanted to wait until the report of the Olympic Commission in May 2010 before making any decisions.

Following the approval of the International Kiteboarding Association as an ISAF International Class at last year's Annual Conference, this year the Council approved Submission 006-09 approved to change to the Windsurfing Committee to become the Windsurfing and Kiteboarding Committee.

There was a lot discussion on Submission 011-09 on the Advertising Code, particularly surrounding the requirement to wear bibs at ISAF Sailing World Cup events. The Council approved the Submission but with a number of amendments to find a compromise between ensuring space for World Cup branding but prevent conflicts with existing sponsorship agreements.

Submission 019-09 to remove Category 2 from the ISAF Sailor Classification Code was also approved, with the Council agreeing on the proposed implementation date of 1 April 2010.

Submission 028-09 and Submission 037-09 (in a modified format, removing proposals 4 and 5 and Appendix 3 of the Submission) were both approved, with the aim of improving the layout of the key ISAF documentation and making it more user friendly, in these cases, in relation to ISAF Race Officials and the ISAF Regulations respectively.

There was a long debate over Submission 031-09, relating to training facilities at Olympic Sailing Competition venues. Kurt Lonnqvist (FIN) summarized the common view around the table in support of the Submission, “This is a very serious matter we have here. For smaller countries this is a huge cost and it's really creating a big difference for different countries for preparing for the Olympics.”

ISAF Treasurer David Kellett (AUS), Technical Delegate for London 2012, explained that the Executive fully recognized the issue and had already taken a number of measures, firstly to help ensure access to the venue and then to try and reduce the cost for teams. However, he pointed out the key change needed to be made in the bid document and this was something that couldn't happen overnight.

After considerable discussion, ISAF President Göran Petersson set out his position, “The message we have got is crystal clear. We recognize how serious this issue is and we're taking it up in three different ways: we're talking to LOCOG, the IOC, the ASOIF Council. Next step is to talk to the Olympic Director of the IOC to get it into the bid document of the IOC.”

The President's message appeared to satisfy the dissenters and the submitters elected to withdraw the Submission.

Having covered approximately half of the Submissions on the Agenda the Council meeting was adjourned for the day. The meeting will continue tomorrow morning, starting with the Submissions 081-09 through to 094-09 where the Events Committee is the Report Committee.

For more on the 2009 ISAF Annual Conference, including news, interviews with some of the key players, meeting papers and more go to www.sailing.org/meetings.

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