2016 Olympics: ISAF Half Yearly meeting - a Multihull perspective

From Paul Pascoe, Chairman ISAF Multihull Commission:
The International Sailing Federation is a funny beast, and no more so than when the boats are selected every four years to represent sailing at the Olympic Games.
Classes and National Federations spend years positioning themselves, getting their supporters appointed to Committees, perhaps elected as Chairman where they see it may be useful, all with a view to influencing the outcome in their favour.
And when it comes to making these decisions, you have no friends, strange bedfellows frequently arise and knives in the back are not unknown.

As much as the individuals would like to 'put the sport before our national or personal interests', National Federations have so much to win or lose by getting their favoured boat into the Olympic Games that it is impossible for these forces not to come in to play. In many large countries where the national body is funded significantly by the government, the sole definition of success, and therefore indirectly its funding, is the number of Gold Medals at the Olympics. They don't care about World Championships or Olympic Silver medals - just Olympic Gold medals.
In Brazil their number one sports stars from the Olympic Games across all sports are Torben Grael and Robert Scheidt.
With the 2016 Olympics being sailed in Brazil, the event was guaranteed to generate huge public interest in the selection between the two leading up to the Games and then at the Games itself. So in you own country, think of your highest profile Olympian across all sports, think of a home Olympic Games, only to have the International Federation pull your number one athlete's event from the lineup - front page news in Brazil and an international scandal.
So with this level of importance we all headed for St Petersburg to decide the disciplines, and in some cases the equipment (read 'boats' in non-Olympic terms). The Olympic Commission had presented their report, made a little tweak between November and May and all submissions were locked in by ISAF some weeks ago. The great news for multihull sailors was that every submission had at least one multihull on the slate, so barring any last minute political maneuvering, we were assured of being back for 2016 in one form or another.
In particular, the Star lobby has a long history of using their considerable influence, and this was again in evidence when they managed to have the Executive support a proposal that was more outlandish than anything anyone had thought possible. A submission that got zero votes at the Events Committee to make only one change to the lineup to remove the 49er of all things, and replace it with the multihull was voted by the Executive as their preferred solution. As much as I am keen to have a multihull back into the event, it would have been tragic to do so at the expense of the 49er. Suffice to say that it was highly unlikely that the support of this submission was unanimous with the Executive. Other websites have posted names of those on the Executive they believe were in support of the Puerto Rican submission, but it was very obvious which 'camps' would have voted in support. As well as the obvious Star lobby, the 470 Class must see that if the Olympics has two skiffs, there are then under threat for the 2020 Olympics.
Paul's full report on the voting and backstory on Sail-World.com: www.sail-world.com
2016 Olympics: ISAF Half Yearly meeting - a Multihull perspective 2016 Olympics: ISAF Half Yearly meeting - a Multihull perspective Reviewed by Panos Douros on Monday, May 09, 2011 Rating: 5

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