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ISAF Racing Rules committee member Bill O'Hara from Balyholme Yacht Club reviews the changes in the latest edition of the racing rules book signed off at the ISAF conference in China this week.

The racing rules committee have finished their work this year for the 2017-2020 rule book. Publishing and translation deadlines means it's impossible to take any submissions next year into account. Most of the changes are pretty dry and simply technical changes to sort out small problems found in the applications of the rules. In the next rule book there is a big change in that for the first time we have the introduction of the term ' support person' .

Support person – Any person who
(a) provides, or may provide, physical or advisory support to a competitor,
including any coach, trainer, manager, team staff, medic, paramedic or any
other person working with, treating or assisting a competitor in or preparing
for the competition, or
(b) is the parent or guardian of a competitor.
(proposed wording may be amended)

For years at both major and minor events we have incidents with people connected to a competitor . From 2017 onwards they will be under the jurisdiction off and subject to action under the racing rules. The final wording still has to be finalised but it will give the possibility that for example a parent who has been warned about their bad behaviour at an optimist event may if there is a further incident be protested and points deducted from the competitor they support.

There has also been some tidying up of the rules involving RRS 69 Gross Misconduct hearings. This is in direct response by recommendations from CAS ( Court of Arbitration for Sport) when dealing with the high profile America's Cup case that resulted in one sailor receiving a 5 year ban reduced to 18 months by CAS.
When possible the jury when dealing with a 69 issue will appoint one of their members to investigate and in essence act in the role of a prosecutor. The big difference is that he won't take part in the decision which he could have done in the past.

Bill O'Hara has been on the Racing Rules committee since 2004. Bill is a member of ISAF's working parties for RRS 42, Medal races and also for considering applications from events who want to try experimental rules. An Olympian in the Finn dinghy from 1984, Bill is an International Judge, Race Officer and Umpire.

Published in World Sailing

At offshore yacht racing level there is an ongoing debate at this week's ISAF World Sailing Conference in China over sensible safety – i.e balancing the risk against the cost and complexity of suggested changes. One topic this year that will incite debate is a Working Party proposal to remove the mandatory aspect of flare carriage, on the basis that this is already required by national government regulation in almost all flag states.

It is widely believed that this change will not pass, but that it does herald the future as pyrotechnics are replaced by laser flares or similar.

Published in Offshore

In the midweek sessions at  the ISAF World Conference in Sanya, China, the various committees are working on over 300 submissions suggesting changes to ISAF regulations, Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) and Offshore Special Regulations(OSR). Some of these submission pass through more than one committee picking up recommendations as they go along. The submissions and their recommendation are considered by the final arbiter, the ISAF Council, which will determine at the end of the week whether submissions should be approved, rejected or deferred. This year is the final year for submissions that can alter the next iteration of the RRS, due January 1 2017, hence the large number. One proposal that is garnering attention is changes to Rule 69, the disciplinary rule. The changes propose extending the provisions of Rule 69 to “support persons” so that a competitor can be penalised over the adverse behaviour of a coach or parent or similar. The Working Party that submitted this proposal considers it so important that it is suggesting its immediate introduction – ie January 1 2016 instead of the following year.

ISAF’s plethora of classes (>100) continues to grow with the recommendation that the RS Aero, Fareast 28R, VO65, Kite Twin Tip Freestyle, Kite Foil, and Nacra F20 Carbon be added to the family.

Published in World Sailing
Tagged under

A night under the stars in Sanya, China set the scene for the 2015 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards. Determination, persistence and the pursuit of excellence were clearly shared among the impressive list of nominees for this year's awards.

Beginning with Sir Peter Blake and Sir Robin Knox Johnston, the winners back in 1994 when the World Sailor Awards were initiated, the trophy reads like the definitive who's who in yachting.

The accolades have continued over the years and it was with great anticipation that Carlo Croce, President of the International Sailing Federation announced the winners this evening crowning Sarah Ayton, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke as the 2015 ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year.

Addressing the 500 guests in attendance, the President of the world governing body of sailing said, "This award is truly a special recognition for an individual or pair of sailors that has stood out during the year. It is a culmination of hard work and endeavor, combined perhaps with a bit of good fortune. Most nominees are here tonight, and if they are not, they are doing what they do best – sailing.”

This year's winners of the male ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award are the talented duo from New Zealand campaigning in the 49er for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Burling and Tuke have dominated the sailing scene over the last year, winning ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas, Aquece Rio - International Sailing Regatta and the Trofeo Princesa Sofia, while also competing in the America's Cup World Series with Emirates Team New Zealand.

Currently preparing for the 49er Worlds, the pair could not attend the ceremony but commenting on their win from Buenos Aires, Tuke said, "It is a really big honour for us to win this award. We don't sail and race to win these awards, but it is really nice to get these accolades for all the hard work we put in. We are really proud to have won.

"All the nominees have achieved some awesome things this year in our sport, especially Ian Walker for winning the Volvo Ocean Race. We've been working hard all year and the results have come our way, not only in the 49er, but also in the other boats we sail. So we are looking ahead and keeping the hammer down towards the Olympics and then towards bringing the Cup back to New Zealand.”

Double Olympic gold medalist and the only female competing on the Extreme Sailing Series, Ayton was awarded the female ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award.

After commending her fellow nominees, the golden girl of British sailing, Sarah Ayton commented, "It means such a lot to me to have won the Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award. I'm truly touched and proud. I hope to continue being an inspiration to women, young children and individuals who enjoy the sport that we love so much.”

Published in World Sailing

As the world governing body for sailing, ISAF, sits down to its annual powwow this week in China it is in the knowledge that it intends sticking to plans to hold races in next year’s Summer Olympics inside highly polluted Guanabara Bay.

But polluted Olympic waters is by no means the only embarrassment on the table for the blazers attending in Sanya.

The fundamental governance structure of ISAF is in question, with a proposal from Portugal to disband Council to be considered at the AGM. The remote and costly nature of this year’s meeting in Sanya has resulted in a smaller than usual turnout of smaller nations who might support this move. 

The woes of the Sailing World Cup will also be discussed, with rescue proposals being placed on the agenda by ISAF, who acknowledged that 'the Final is a long way from being a compelling event that attracts top sailors'. In this year’s final two classes were cancelled for lack of entries, one class had only six boats and only two classes attracted the full complement of 20 boats.

Also, the decision by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC to drop sailing from the Paralympic Games programme in 2020 has galvanised ISAF into a rearguard action to prove to the powers that be that sailing merits its place. will have more on this.


Published in World Sailing

Although Abu Dhabi sets the stage for a fascinating conclusion to the 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup this week there will unfortunately be no Irish participation among the sport's top athletes heading into four days of intense race competition at the end of a year-round journey towards gold medal glory. 

In six of the eight classes which will see action in the UAE capital, defending champions will be aiming to repeat last year's World Cup final success in Abu Dhabi in order to carry another world title towards next year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

"There is so much quality here and such a great deal at stake, and we look forward to some very exciting racing," said H.E. Ahmed Thane Al Romaithi, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club, hosts of the regatta and of today's official press conference, and Vice-President, UAE Sailing & Rowing Federation.

The 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Final, which climaxes the prestigious annual series of Olympic sailing for elite and professional sailors, is staged with the additional support of Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.

Following the official opening ceremony which takes place at 18:30 on Wednesday 28 October at the Abu Dhabi Theatre, Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club will the next morning launch four days of competition in eight of the ten classes chosen for the 2016 Olympics, as well as kitesurfing.

Among those strongly fancied to strike gold for a second year in Abu Dhabi are the formidable Australian combination of Mat Belcher, the 2014 World Cup gold medallist and 2012 Olympic gold medallist, and Will Ryan, who helped him capture his sixth successive 470 title at the recently concluded World Championships.

No-one enjoyed their gold medal-winning visit to Abu Dhabi more last year than Belgium's Evi Van Acker who returns looking for another Laser Radial triumph.

Meanwhile, Austria's Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar are back to defend their title in the women's 470 class after being pushed all the way last year, while Britain's Bryony Shaw seeks a second successive gold medal in the women's RS:X class.

Britain's Oliver Bridge basically blew away the competition in Abu Dhabi last year to clinch the kiteboard title but can expect a tough title defence over a short track format.

Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club is staging the final regatta in a series which started in Melbourne, Australia last December before continuing with other qualifying events in Miami, USA, Hyères, France, Weymouth and Portland, Great Britain and finally Qingdao, China last month.

All the race action takes place in the waters around Lulu Island off the Abu Dhabi corniche, presenting a great spectacle for spectators, and a worldwide ISAF television audience of millions.

Sailing enthusiasts are also invited to visit the host club on each day of competition, and on a first come, first served basis, spectator boats will carry enthusiasts out on to the water to present a close-up view of the battle for World Cup success.

More event details can be found here


Published in World Sailing
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The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and Rolex has announced five male and five female nominees for the 2015 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards, half of those shortlisted are British.

Set to be held on Tuesday, 10 November 2015 in Sanya, China, the Awards ceremony celebrates the world’s finest sailors' achievements during the qualifying period from the end of September 2014 through to 31 August 2015.

Only one nominee wins in both the male and female categories. The names vying for the coveted and prestigious 2015 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards are:

Peter Burling & Blair Tuke (NZL)
Loick Peyron (FRA)
Giles Scott (GBR)
Ian Walker (GBR)
Ian Williams (GBR)

Sarah Ayton (GBR)
Sam Davies (GBR)
Elena Kalinina (RUS)
Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen (DEN)
Charline Picon (FRA)

The achievements of the 2015 nominees are:

Peter Burling & Blair Tuke – New Zealand

When nominated for the 2014 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) were labelled as sailing’s hottest properties. One year on and that tag is as relevant as ever as they continue to dominate anything sail powered.

A run of 20 consecutive 49er regattas spearheads their nomination, including victories at the 2015 Aquece Rio, Olympic Test event, ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres and Weymouth and Portland as well as Trofeo Princesa Sofia.

Alongside their Olympic campaign the pair have become the leading lights of Emirates Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup World Series. A second at the first leg in Portsmouth, Great Britain turned into victory a few weeks in Gothenburg, Sweden to give them the overall advantage.

If the America’s Cup and Olympic Games wasn’t enough to whet their appetite, Burling dominated the Moth World Championships early in 2015 to take the title with Tuke following in sixth.

Loick Peyron (FRA)

Loick Peyron broke a spell that haunted him for 32 years in the 2014 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe. After six attempts at victory across the mythical passage a victory had eluded Peyron, one of offshore sailing’s superstars but that all changed in November 2014.

Offered the opportunity to skipper the Maxi Solo Banque Populaire VII trimaran following Armel Le Cleach’h’s withdrawal two months before the race, Peyron duly accepted and delivered. In rough seas Peyron kept his cool, pushing the 103ft beast to the extremes and with an average boat speed of 22.93 knots he set a new outright course passage record of 7 days 15 hours 8 minutes and 32 seconds.

Giles Scott (GBR)

In the shadow of one of the greatest Olympic Finn sailors of all time, Great Britain’s Giles Scott has emerged as the next in line for the Finn throne.

Scott has dominated racing in the Finn class for the past two years and remains undefeated since October 2013. Among his achievements this year, Scott has won the last two Olympic test events, three Sailing World Cup events and the ISAF Worlds in Santander.

Despite dominating an Olympic class, Scott stills takes time out to compete in the America’s Cup where he is part of the Ben Ainslie Racing team. He helped the team win the first event of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth, Great Britain and currently sits in second with the team overall.

Ian Walker (GBR)

Olympic medallist Ian Walker made his way to the start line of the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race with only one thing in his mind following two previous disappointments as skipper.

It really was third time lucky as Walker skippered the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew to a resounding win. He led the team to an insurmountable point lead on the second to last leg meaning he could fully enjoy his triumph on the final leg in to Gothenburg.

Not content with just the overall win, Walker led the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team to the in-port race series win and set a 24 hour distance record of 550.82 nautical miles while approaching Cape Horn.

Ian Williams (GBR)

Ian Williams wrote his name in to the history books in 2015 when he took the ISAF Match Racing World Championship for a record fifth time.

A Match Racing specialist, Williams finished the 2014/15 season boosting 13 event wins and 35 podium finishes which culminated in the history making fifth Championship crown.

His record breaking exploits in Match Racing saw Williams surpass great names in the Sailing world such as four time World Match Racing Champion Peter Gilmour and three time champions Russell Coutts, Chris Dickson and Ed Baird.

Sarah Ayton (GBR)

The golden girl of British Olympic Sailing turned superstar of the Extreme Sailing Series, Sarah Ayton has shone throughout the 2015 series successfully guiding The Wave, Muscat to five victories from seven regattas. As the only female crew member in the Extreme Sailing Series fleet the strong presence of the two-time Olympic gold medallists has been felt. Her strategic ability has seen her rise to the top calling tactics on The Wave, Muscat.

Just one regatta remains in the 2015 Extreme Sailing Series in Sydney, Australia and with Ayton’s experience led by helm Leigh McMillan the champagne could well be on ice.

Sam Davies (GBR)

Sam Davies is the skipper of a special crew in the Volvo Ocean Race. With a project aimed at inspiring and empowering women, Team SCA was the first all female team to enter the Volvo Ocean Race in over a decad and sailed in to the finish of the in their home port of Gothenburg with a leg race win to their credit.

Despite rough winds and seasickness among the crew, Davies steered Team SCA from Lisbon to Lorient on Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race and on 11 June 2015 they crossed the finish line first, making history for their female team.

Elena Kalinina (RUS)

Since finishing second at the 2014 Formula Kite World Championship in August 2014 in Turkey, Elena Kalinina has been undefeated in every single major championship in kiteboard racing.

With a list that includes the 2014 Asian Championships, the 2014 European Championships, the 2015 Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia, the 2015 Formula Kite European Championship and her first World Championship, Kalinina has been busy filling her trophy cabinet all year – and all before her 18th birthday.

If this year is an indication of the future, Kalinina is a superstar in the making. She has dominated her class, performing like a seasoned professional, unfazed by the competition, all at such a young age.

Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen (DEN)

Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen is one of the most experienced sailors on the Womens World Match Racing Tour, and with her current team of Anne Sophie Munk, Josephine Nissen, Tina Gramkov and Nina Grunow won the ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championships in Middelfart, Denmark.

With more than 20 years experience in over 40 different boats, Meldgaard Pedersen needed every part of her know-how to beat a stellar cast of Women’s Match Racers. In her homeland of Denmark, Meldgaard Pedersen and her team moved through the competition to a thrilling finale with her compatriot Camilla Ulrikkeholm which went down to the wire. Meldgaard Pedersen won the very last race of the regatta to write her name on the trophy as World Champion.

Charline Picon (FRA)

With consistency the key, Charline Picon has always produced at the big events throughout the year against stiff competition in the RS:X class.

Podium finishes in both the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final 2014 and ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres 2015 compliment wins at Aquece Rio International Sailing Regatta 2015, Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia 2014 and ISAF Sailing World Championships 2014.

The ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander was a high point for Picon as she beat a fantastic fleet of female windsurfers to not only take the title, but to also secure her place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the second time she will represent her country at the Games.

The Voting
The winners will be selected by the ISAF Member National Authorities (MNAs), the national governing bodies for sailing around the world, by a process of voting prior to the event and on the night of the Awards. The MNAs are now invited to vote for the male and female nominee they believe most deserves the Award. This vote will contribute to 50% of the overall result, while the remaining 50% of the vote will be decided by those in attendance on the night in Sanya.

Each winner will be presented with the prestigious ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award Trophy and a distinctive Rolex timepiece at the Award ceremony on 10 November 2015 in Sanya.

Published in World Sailing

#matchracing – Howth's Yacht Club's Diana Kissane faces strong opposition in Denmark at the Women's Match Racing World Championship and yesterday strong gusts and a long day conspired to really test the sole Irish entry who sustained six losses, the same as Finnish and Dutch entries

Local hope Lotte Meldgaard and French Anne-Claire Le Berre are the only undefeated skippers after the opening day of the 2015 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship, the first event on the 2015 Women's International Match Racing Series (WIM Series), in Middelfart, Denmark. Both scored 8 - 0 on a long and very action-packed Wednesday:

"Even with one reef in the main and a smaller jib replacing the genoa, the Match 28's we're racing here are quite overpowered. We lost control a couple of times, but excellent crew work got us back on track again" Meldgaard comments.

The opening day offered truly challenging conditions for the competitors as well as for the race management. Gusts approaching 30 knots swept down the course, leaving broaching boats, freely flying kites and wet and exhausted sailors behind.

The racing in Middelfart continues with the round-robin Thursday and Friday, while the weekend will see the exciting knock-out rounds to crown the World Champions.

Standings after one day of round-robin in the 2015 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship in Middelfart, Denmark, the first event on the 2015 WIM Series (skipper, country, wins - losses):

1. Lotte Meldgaard, DEN, 8 - 0
1. Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 8 - 0
3. Anna Östling, SWE, 7 - 1
4. Camilla Ulrikeholm, DEN, 5 - 1
4. Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 5 - 1
6. Stephanie Roble, USA, 4 - 2
6. Klaartje Zuiderbaan, NED, 4 - 2
8. Pauline Courtois, FRA, 5 - 3
8. Katie Spithill, AUS, 5 - 3
10. Milly Bennett, AUS, 3 - 5
11. Louise Christensen, DEN, 2 - 6
12. Johanna Larsson, SWE, 0 - 6
12. Nina Ramm-Schmidt, FIN, 0 - 6
12. Rikst Dijkstra, NED, 0 - 6
12. Diana Kissane, IRL, 0 - 6
16. Sanna Hager, SWE, 0 - 8

Published in Match Racing

#matchrace – Howth Yacht Club's Diane Kissane and her crew are competing at this week's ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship in Denmark, as Afloat previously reported back in May. Warm and sunny conditions with a strong southerly breeze today welcomed the 81 sailors participating in the 2015 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship, the first event out of four on the 2015 Women's International Match Racing Series (WIM Series), to Middelfart, Denmark. The rain waited politely until the last practise session in Match Racing Denmark's fleet of Match 28 boats was over:

"It takes a while to learn a new boat, but we've also had some practise on our home waters and feel quite confident going into this event," says World # 1 and defending World Champion Anna Ostling.

During Tuesday's practise session in Middelfart the Swedish crew of Team Anna had a few great fights against last year's World Championship bronze medallist and WIM Series # 4, American Stephanie Roble of Epic Racing:

"It's a shifty and tricky venue and we were happy to be controlling the Swedes a lot of the time. I like the boats a lot, they spin quickly and it's good to be five on board," Roble comments.

By Sunday we'll not only know which of the top ranked sailors has captured the World Championship title, but also who gained points on this first event out of four on the 2015 WIM Series. The first two years of the WIM Series saw 39 professional teams from 19 countries competing for gold and glory.

2015 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship teams (skipper, country, ISAF World Ranking):

Anna Ostling, SWE, 1
Camilla Ulrikkeholm, DEN, 2
Stephanie Roble, USA, 3
Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 4
Lotte Meldgaard, DEN, 5
Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 6
Klaartje Zuiderbaan, NED, 7
Pauline Courtois, FRA, 8
Milly Bennett, AUS, 9
Johanna Larsson, SWE, 13
Nina Ramm-Schmidt, FIN, 14
Katie Spithill, AUS, 16
Sanna Hager, SWE, 17
Rikst Dijkstra, NED, 18
Diana Kissane, IRL, 60
Louise Christensen, DEN, 6

Published in Match Racing

The world governing body for sailing, International Sailing Federation (ISAF) has appointed former Managing Director of Business Process Outsourcing and Sales for Accenture as the new Chief Executive Officer effective immediately.

ISAF President Carlo Croce said, "Peter has vast experience in business and working at the top level with major companies across the world. The decision for the new CEO for ISAF was not taken lightly, and we had some exceptional candidates to choose from. Because of the high calibre of applicants, it was an extensive process and now both myself and the Executive board believe we have the very best person for the job. The only thing that rivals Peter's exceptional business know-how is his love for sailing, and this combination of attributes ensures that Peter will lead the organisation forward with distinction."

"I am honoured to have been chosen by the Executive to lead ISAF," commented Sowrey. " Sailing has always been a passion for me, and to now combine this with my business knowledge is a great opportunity for me to affect a change and drive the sport and organisation forward. To be given the chance is a tremendous honour, and I look forward to the exciting challenge ahead and working with everyone associated to the sailing world."

With a history of developing brands, services, sales and organisational capabilities, Sowrey will continue to progress ISAF in all aspects and move the organisation forward into a new era of commerce, programs and infrastructure. As well as global business experience, Sowrey has also given advisory support to the 5 West team and Alex Thomson Racing.

As CEO, Sowrey will be key in helping shape the vision and direction of the organisation, working in conjunction with the President, Carlo Croce, and the Executive Board.

Published in World Sailing
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