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
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.
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.