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The dinghy classes are not the only subjects of open letters to World Sailing chiefs as they meet in London this weekend, with Dutch windsurfer Dorian van Rijsselberghe issuing his own missive criticising the retention of the RS:X class without holding sea trials.

Sail World reports on the letter from the current world and Olympic champion in the class, who argues that World Sailing has on its hands “a great opportunity to re-invigorate the sport of sailing and windsurfing and to inspire the next generation” were it to trial alternative classes such as windfoils alongside the RS:X, which itself replaced the Mistral in Beijing 2008.

“Despite the dominant position [my country the Netherlands holds] in the RS:X, I believe it is our duty not only to foster talent and bring it to the top – but in fact that the overriding duty is to act in the best interests of the sport and to ensure its future, prosperity and continued success,” he writes.

Van Rijsselberghe also hit out at the perceived monopoly in manufacturing for the class and is effect on costs for windsurfers, while also highlighting the dearth of youth competitors in the Netherland and New Zealand, historically among the biggest windsurfing nations.

Sail World has much more on the story HERE.

Fionn Lyden and Oisin McClelland — who are currently competing at the Finn Europeans in Athens — are among dozens of concerned Finn sailors who have put their names to an open letter to sailing chiefs over the removal of their class from the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

The letter’s release coincides with the start of World Sailing’s Mid-Year Meeting in London today (Friday 17 May), and follows a similar appeal by the International Finn Association ahead of the AGM for sailing’s world governing body last November.

That was prompted by an 11th-hour move by World Sailing decision makers to replace the Mixed One Person Dinghy event (in which men sail the Finn class) with a two-person keelboat class to be determined, overturning a previous decision in May 2018.

In its statement at the time, the Finn class body said the decision “is further driving our sport into expensive elitist Olympic events which will result in the decrease of universality and participation in Olympic sailing”.

The latest letter, from a group providing the email address [email protected], is attached below, and the text can be read here:

To whom it may concern,

We are writing to express our deep concern regarding the removal of the Finn class from the 2024 Olympic Games by World Sailing and to request the reinstatement of a class suited to male athletes over 85 kilograms.

While we understand that the main reason behind this decision was to give preference to mixed event categories, removing the Finn class eliminates a massive Olympic sailing group which includes every single male athlete over 85 kilograms. Historically, athletes of this category have significantly contributed to the sport and this category’s popularity continues today. At the recent Aarhus Sailing World Championships in Denmark, 42 nations gathered and participated with athletes in the Finn class, making the Finn the third largest class at the competition.

Not only is the Finn class’s popularity undeniable and the removal of this class a detriment to the Olympic Games, but it also discriminates against many sailors. Despite the initial working party and the World Sailing Events Committee Chairman’s expressed respect for World Sailing’s Regulation 23 and the ‘all physique’s’ policy 70/17, the category of men over 85 kilograms has been discriminated against and effectively barred from competition due to the equipment specifications. For further evidence of this detrimental phenomenon, please see page 17 of the attached document, which illustrates that all male sailors fall into the 70-85 kilogram bracket.

The removal of the Finn class from the Olympic Games breaches World Sailing rules and policies and disregards the principles of the Olympic Charter with respect to non-discrimination of physiques, and limits access to many sailors. Therefore, we urge you to reinstate a class, like the Finn, suited to male athletes over 85 kilograms in order to guarantee the fair access to all sailors and in order to avoid the implementation of discriminatory decision from World Sailing.

In the hope that a correction will be provided without the need for further action, we remain at your disposal for a constructive dialogue on this matter at the address shown in the header of this letter.

Published in World Sailing

Minutes of the meeting that decided the inclusion of an Olympic keelboat event in place of the Finn class have been confirmed by the World Sailing council, according to Sail World.

Controversy has arisen after last month’s decision at World Sailing’s AGM in Florida and the publication of the draft minutes, when four members claimed their electronic votes were recorded incorrectly.

However, in a special teleconference last Friday 21 December, World Sailing’s council voted 22-11 with two abstentions to confirm the previously disputed minutes.

It means that the Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat event will go ahead at the Paris Olympics in 2024 — with no more room for Finn sailors.

Ireland has two in the Finn — Oisin McClelland and Fionn Lyden — competing for a place at Tokyo 2020, what’s now the last Olympic Games for the class. The move has been eyed with interest by Irish offshore sailors.

Sail World has further details of last weekend’s special World Sailing council meeting.

Published in Offshore

#Finn - The International Finn Association (IFA) has spoken out over World Sailing’s unexpected decision to replace the Mixed One Person Dinghy event with a two-person keelboat class for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

The 11th-hour change was made on the eve of the 2018 World Sailing Conference in Sarasota, Florida this week.

It overturns a previously agreed submission from this past May that had confirmed the mixed class — with the Finn indicated as the male equivalent — as a new event for the Paris Games.

In a statement, the IFA said the last-minute switch “is further driving our sport into expensive elitist Olympic events which will result in the decrease of universality and participation in Olympic sailing.”

The full statement by the Finn class can be read HERE.

Ireland has two Finn sailors — Fionn Lyden and Oisin McClelland — vying for a spot at what looks now to be the final Olympics for the class at Tokyo in 2020.

Published in World Sailing

The Admiral of the Royal Ocean Racing Club in London, Andrew McIrvine, has written to the President of World Sailing, Kim Anderson, seeking action from the World body over the prevalence of 'cheating' in sailing that he maintains is becoming 'a major disincentive to going racing at many levels'.

In a strongly worded letter, McIrivne, who is also the Secretary General of the International Maxi Association, says the ‘culture’ of ‘it’s not cheating unless you are caught’ is becoming increasingly prevalent.

He claims it is a particular problem among some sailing 'professionals' who, he says, have a 'more desperate need to win to maintain their livelihood'.

‘the culture of ‘it’s not cheating unless you are caught’ is becoming increasingly prevalent'

McIrvine's letter laments the fact that the 'sport used to be largely self-policing and honourable. Sadly, he says, 'those days are long gone and it must now become a major function of World Sailing to police the sport effectively'.

The RORC Chief says he wants the World Sailing organisation to take a much firmer line in trying to stamp out the culture. 'This will involve commitment from above down; all the way from the Executive to individual race organising authorities'" he says.

World Sailing McIrvine's letter (dated 30th of January 2018) is posted on the World Sailing website on this link here and it is reproduced in full below: 

RATING INTEGRITY AND CHEATING

Dear President,

I am writing because of my deep concern over the rise of cheating within our sport and the lack of use of process and sanctions to deal with it.

This was prompted by the recent announcement by the J70 Class Association of the sanctions they were going to apply to those who had arrived at the 2017 World Championship with boats that had been deliberately altered such that they were no longer in class. They had been disqualified from competing at the event but now 4 months later the sanction applied was as little as a 4-month ban – covering the winter, mainly non-sailing, season.

This appeared totally inadequate as a sentence of this type will be ineffective as a deterrent to increasing flouting of the rules.

I am using this as an example as it is a class with which I have no involvement and am therefore seeing it from an independent stance,

An example from within my sphere was the case of ‘Scugnizza’ a boat eventually disqualified from the 2016 ORC European Championships by an International Jury for blatant measurement anomalies. ORC could do this and ban them from their events but no action was taken by either MNA or WS despite the boat being filled with ‘professionals’.

Bruno Finzi, Chairman of the Offshore Racing Council, supports me in our frustration with the lack of sanction from higher authorities.

Stan Honey, Chairman of the Oceanic and Offshore Committee shares our concerns.

This ‘culture’ of ‘it’s not cheating unless you are caught’ is becoming increasingly prevalent.

It is probably associated with greater involvement of professional sailors who have a more desperate need to win to maintain their livelihood.

Our sport used to be largely self-policing and honourable. Sadly those days are long gone and it must now become a major function of World Sailing to police the sport effectively.

Only serious lengthy bans to individuals perpetrating these offences will have such an effect.

From communication with many sailors, it is clear that this lack of control is becoming a major disincentive to going racing at many levels.

We feel it is imperative that World Sailing as a whole take a much firmer line in trying to stamp out this culture. This will involve commitment from above down; all the way from the Executive to individual race organising authorities.

We very much hope this can be put high on your agenda.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Andrew J McIrvine FRCS

Member, WS Classes Committee

Secretary-General, International Maxi Association

Admiral, Royal Ocean Racing Club

Published in RORC
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In just one week (7 November), some of the biggest names in sailing will be celebrated in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico at the inaugural World Sailing Awards evening.

The World Sailing Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of the world's leading sailors and recognises the exceptional contributions made by those who have devoted their time and effort to further the sport.

Hosted by sailing broadcaster, Alec Wilkinson, and two-time Olympic medallist and two-time Rolex World Sailor of the Year, Sofia Bekatorou, the highlight of the evening will be presentation of the ultimate recognition of excellence – the Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award.

The 2017 World Sailing Awards will also feature the presentation of the Beppe Croce Trophy and President's Development Trophy.

Nominees for the Rolex World Sailor of the Year feature sailors drawn from the America's Cup, Vendee Globe, Windsurfing, Offshore and Olympic Class racing, highlighting the breadth and depth of the sport.

The Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards is the most prestigious award of recognition in the dynamic sport of sailing. Since the awards' inception in 1994, the trophy has proudly accumulated the names of those who have demonstrated unparalleled, performance, endurance and accomplishment in sailing.

The winners will be decided by World Sailing's Member National Authorities, attendees on the night and the voting public.

On Saturday 4 November at 18:00 CST, the public will be invited to cast their vote on sailing.org for who they believe is the worthiest recipient of the coveted male and female Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award.

Voting will be open for a period of 72 hours and will close just hours before the announcement is made – 18:00 CST on Tuesday 7 November.

The names vying for the coveted Rolex World Sailor of the Year are:

Female
Marit Bouwmeester (NED) - 2017 Laser Radial World Champion
Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) - 49erFX World Cup Series Champions
Sarah-Quita Offringa (ARU) - Pro Windsurfers Association World Tour Freestyle and Slalom World Champion
Tara Pacheco (helmed by Fernando Echavarri) (ESP) - Nacra 17 World Cup Series Champions

Male
Glenn Ashby (AUS) - America's Cup winning Skipper
Peter Burling (NZL) - America's Cup winning Helmsman
Thomas Coville (FRA) - Singlehanded Round the World Record holder
Armel Le Cleac'h (FRA) - 2016-2017 Vendée Globe winner

Published in World Sailing
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Ireland has always played a role in the affairs of World Sailing, formerly ISAF, formerly IYRU. The peak of Irish representation was in the years from 1998 to 2004, when Dubliner Ken Ryan served as Vice President.

Today, the representation isn’t at such a high level, but Irish Sailing is involved in key World Sailing Committees and maintains its place on the World Sailing Council. While Irish Sailing has nominated most of those listed below, Commissions are appointed by the Board and some have been appointed by the International Class they are affiliated with. Currently listed as IRL on World Sailing Commissions and committees are:

Council Marcus Spillane
Sailor Classification Commission David Meagher, Donal McClement, Jamie Wilkinson
Equipment Committee Cathy MacAleavy
Equipment Rules sub-Committee Curly Morris
Events Committee
Match Racing sub-Committee Michael O’Connor
Oceanic and Offshore Committee Paddy Boyd
Race Officials Committee Bill O’Hara
International Umpires sub-Committee Bill O’Hara
Race Management sub-Committee Con Murphy
Racing Rules Committee Bill O’Hara
World Sailing Classes Committee Curly Morris (Equipment Rules rep)

The World Sailing Annual Conference takes place later this week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Attending World Sailing's Mexico Conference from Ireland is Bill O'Hara, Marcus Spillane, Paddy Boyd, Con Murphy and Cathy MacAleavey. 

Much of the focus at World Sailing Conferences is on the equipment that is chosen for Olympic Games. While the 2020 Games will use the classes that were used in Rio, the battle is on for selection for Paris 2024.

Bill O haraBill O'Hara of Belfast Lough

The final decision on this will not be taken until the 2018 Conference, but the debate is well under way, with the ”at risk” classes already lobbying to avoid the chop. World Sailing is seeking to align its Games strategy with the IOC’s Agenda 2020, so this November the discussion will be of a strategic nature considering the questions of gender equity (required by 2024), mixed classes, multi-medals (without increasing the quota) and evaluating new disciplines such as team racing, match racing and offshore events.

Four of the ten events will be reviewed in 2018, which four to be determined at the May 2018 meeting. The final decision on the events and the equipment used in those events will be made by the end of 2018, most likely at the 2018 November Conference. Currently, the men’s heavyweight event (Finn), is the only event not populated by both genders and as such will be under pressure.

The 470 is also coming under scrutiny as a dated class with one-design control issues, while the RS:X is also under threat as the equipment doesn’t enjoy popular appeal.

Removal of current events paves the way for consideration of an offshore two-handed mixed discipline, but the debate will also look at a more innovative approach, such as creating a team or match racing event amongst the athletes already selected, improving the medal count without increasing the total attendance.

Elsewhere on the agenda, amongst the usual governance issues, there are a couple of interesting proposals. One is to create a “Champion of Champions” event for World Champions in keelboat classes, similar in concept to Ireland's own 'All Irelands' competition.

In another initiative, the World Sailing Board is proposing to host an Offshore World Championships, two-handed, mixed gender in one-design boats. This is seen as a move to have IOC consider this discipline for future Olympic Games. it is most likely to be under review next year.

The World Sailing Annual Conference runs from November 4 to November 12, 2017.

Published in World Sailing

The Volvo Ocean Race, Volvo Group and Volvo Car Group will today become the Official Automotive Partner of World Sailing, the International Governing Body for the sport.

As part of an ambitious plan, World Sailing will partner with the Volvo Ocean Race, owned by Volvo Group and Volvo Car Group, to develop the next generation of offshore sailors.

"World Sailing is delighted to partner with Volvo as they have been fully committed to developing sailing worldwide for many years,” commented World Sailing President Kim Andersen.

"They are an ambitious, forward thinking partner who match World Sailing's vision and mission for the entire sport. They will be a crucial partner for World Sailing, working with us across all of our titled events, sustainability programmes and will have exclusivity in the automotive sector.

"It is vital that World Sailing continue to aid growth across all aspects of the sport and our partnership with the Volvo Ocean Race allows us to be closely aligned with one of sports major events.”

The partnership is a signal of the Volvo Ocean Race's commitment to the sport and future of offshore sailing.

The next stage of that process will be to set-out a clear pathway for offshore sailors from across the globe. This will include the creation of Volvo Ocean Race Academies, designed to provide a stepping stone for young offshore sailors.

World Sailing has also proposed an offshore showcase event to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and Volvo Ocean Race have pledged their full support for the bid.

"We see the Volvo Ocean Race at the apex of the offshore sailing pyramid,” said Volvo Ocean Race CEO Mark Turner.

"The partnership with World Sailing is important for us to show a long-term commitment to the sport and, equally, World Sailing's support and understanding of the Volvo Ocean Race does,” Turner said.

"But we need to create some steps underneath it like the Volvo Ocean Race Academies and ultimately a closer link to any Olympic offshore showcase event if approved by the IOC. If and when that goes through, the Volvo Ocean Race will be uniquely positioned to provide a path towards the Olympic Games, with a qualification or test event potentially taking place at one of our stopovers.”

Volvo have a long running commitment to sailing and previously worked with the world governing body of the sport, acting as title sponsor of the Youth Sailing World Championships from 1999 to 2010.

Published in World Sailing
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A lifetime of enthusiastic and effective dedication to voluntary work in international sailing administration has very deservedly resulted in the award of World Sailing’s Gold Medal to Ireland’s Helen Mary Wilkes writes W M Nixon.

She is originally from Scotland while her husband Robert is from England. But when they settled in Ireland in 1969, Howth became their home, sailing became their family sport, and both their sons Tom and Rupert sailed – and still sail - for Ireland.

However, the fact that Helen Mary and Robert together provided a brilliant administrative and creative team was quickly recognized locally and nationally, and it was recognition which became international when Howth Yacht Club took on the staging of the Optimist Worlds in 1981.

helen mary wilkes5 1Wall-to-wall Optimist dinghies from dozens of countries at the Worlds in Howth in 1981 – this is how it looks in a double-page spread in the HYC Centenary History, published 1995

That would be a relatively straightforward business with today’s modernized facilities. But Howth in 1981 was in the throes of harbour re-development, yet bits of it still functioned as both a sailing and fishing port.

Thus the staging of the worlds was based on the beachside Claremont Hotel immediately west of the Harbour (it has long since disappeared into a large complex of up-market apartments), and much of the running of this huge event had to be developed from scratch.

But with Helen Mary Wilkes in the key position as Secretary to the Organising Committee and Robert in several other roles, the racing for hundreds of Optimists - in what was then the most international sailing event ever seen in Ireland - was successfully completed. The overall winner was Guido Tavelli of Argentina, while the top girl (and best Irish at 17th overall) was 13-year-old Denise Lyttle of the National YC.

helen mary wilkes5 1Helen Mary Wilkes (centre) with Viggo and Edith Jacobsen, the founders in 1962 of the International Optimist Dinghy Association, at a major regatta in 1990

For most folk in Howth, that was enough involvement in international sailing administration until the new HYC marina and clubhouse were fully functional by 1987. But Helen Mary and Robert Wilkes had been spotted by the powers-that-be as talents that could usefully be deployed on the world stage, and Helen Mary’s subsequent rise through the global and national ranks of sailing administration has been so all-encompassing that it’s best summarized in a basic list:

International Sailing Federation (now World Sailing)

1982 - 1998 International Classes Committee
1990 - 1994 CPOC
1994 - 1998 Events Committee
1994 - 1998 Vice-chair, International Classes Committee (elected)
1998 - 2000 Match Racing Committee
2006 & 2008 Nominated for IOC Women & Sport Award
2008 ISAF President’s Development Award (jointly)
2008-2016 Vice-chair, ISAF Classes Committee

International Optimist Class
1978 - 1982 Secretary, IODA of Ireland
1982 - 1987 President, IODA of Ireland
1982 - 1985 Regatta Committee, IODA
1985- 1989 Vice-President
1989 - 1998 President
During that presidency the Class became the largest in the world:
- national membership rose by 78% to 87 countries
- participation at international events rose by 50% to 57 countries
1998 - 2005 Member of Honour
2005 - President of Honour

Match Racing
In 1996 Helen Mary was asked by Paul Henderson (ISAF President) to promote women’s match-racing towards Olympic status and became the first president of the Women’s International Match-Racing Association. The number of active teams and countries increased by nearly 50%.

Irish Sailing Association
1990 - 1998 Council
1992 - 2000 Olympic Committee/Group

World Sailing
March 2017 Gold Medal awarded to Helen Mary Wilkes by newly-elected World Sailing President Kim Andersen

While Helen Mary Wilkes’ many significant roles have made her the more prominent of this remarkable couple, Robert has been busy behind the scenes, and among other things - in addition to being Secretary for 35 years to the International Optimist Class Association - in 2007 he produced a profusely-illustrated history of the first sixty years of this incredibly successful little boat, with additional input from Clifford McKay Jr, who was the first Opty sailor in Florida way back in 1947.

helen mary wilkes5 1Helen Mary and Robert Wilkes on being inducted into the Irish Sailing Association’s Hall of fame in 2009

Being the sons of such busy and interesting parents made for a special up-bringing for Tom and Rupert. It’s all of a piece that Tom should be involved on the technical side of sailing – he runs a carbon spar-making business in the Netherlands which, in honour of home, he calls Ceilidh Composites. As a result he is a veteran of several Fastnets and Sydney-Hobarts. Rupert has elected to work ashore, but it’s something equally interesting – he restores classic and antique buildings.

However, this week it’s their parents and their enormous contribution to national and international sailing which is deservedly top of the agenda. Our heartiest congratulations to Helen Mary Wilkes on her newly-awarded World Sailing Gold Medal.

helen mary wilkes5 1Gold Medallist. Helen Mary Wilkes today

Published in News Update

Six Irish Sailors, including two from Northern Ireland, will sit on seven World Sailing Committees from 2017 to 2020.

Olympians Cathy MacAleavey from the National Yacht Club on Dublin Bay and Bill O'Hara from Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough will sit on the Equipment and Racing Rules committees respectively. O'Hara, Ireland's Finn rep from the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics and Korea '88, also sits on the International Umpires group.

Curly Morris, a GP14 Helmsman, from East Antrim is a Classes Representative on the Equipment Rules Sub–Committee. Former Irish Sailing and Canada Sailing Chief Paddy Boyd sits on the Offshore and Oceanic Committtee. Rio 2016 Race Officer Con Murphy, sits on the Race Management Committee.

Sole Munster rep, Mike O'Connor, the man behind Ireland's staging of the Womens Match Racing World Championship at Royal Cork Yacht Club in 2014 is on the Match Racing Committtee.

Download the appointees below. 

Published in World Sailing
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Page 3 of 6

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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