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The former CEO of World Sailing says he was fired for pushing to get rid of polluted Guanabara Bay as the sailing venue of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, according to an Associated Press report this morning.

Peter Sowrey tried to change the venue, or at least have a "B plan" but says "I was told to gag myself on the subject."

Sowrey proposed moving the event to Buzios, a coastal resort about 160 kilometres (100 miles) from Rio that has been host to large sailing events. Of course, it's too late now for that change.

"The board felt I was way too aggressive," Sowrey said. "They basically voted me out. I didn't resign. The board finally told me to leave."

Sowrey said looking at Guanabara Bay on "fact-based, data-driven models we would never consider sailing in that quality of water."

The Associated Press has much more on the story here

Published in World Sailing

World Sailing has published its report into discrimination at the 2015 Youth World Sailing Championship in Langkawi, Malaysia.
The international sailing authority says it deeply regrets that two sailors from the Israel Yachting Association (IYA) were unable to compete at the 2015 Youth World Championships due to the conditions imposed by the Malaysian authorities, in order for them to be allowed permission to enter the country and compete at the regatta.

A thorough investigation of this matter has been undertaken on behalf of the Executive Committee of World Sailing with the full co-operation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The findings were reviewed by an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee in London on the 8 January 2016.

The World Sailing report into discrimination at the 2015 Youth World Sailing Championship in Langkawi, Malaysia is available to view here.

Published in World Sailing

The International Sailing Federation now World Sailing has appointed Andy Hunt, former CEO of the British Olympic Association and a non-executive Director of the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games as its new Chief Executive Officer. It is the second CEO appointment within a year following the departure of Peter Sowrey after only six months in the job. Hunt joins the world sailing body in the middle of a participation storm over the staging of its youth world championships in Malaysia this month. 

Hunt (52) has most recently been Chairman & Managing Partner of Progressive Media Group, an International Media & Business Information group of companies, as well as serving as a non-executive Director of England Hockey & Gloucester Rugby. Hunt has had a highly successful career across both sport and business over the past 30 years.

World Sailing President Carlo Croce said, "I am delighted that we have found an outstanding candidate to fill the role of CEO. Andy combines exceptional business leadership credentials, with an excellent track record in sports administration, a deep understanding of the Olympic & Paralympic movement, strong relationships with the IOC and ASOIF and enjoys a lifelong passion for Sailing. Andy will work closely with me and the Executive Board to continue to deliver on our vision and strategy for World Sailing."

Published in World Sailing

#ISAF - Can sailing's world governing body be trusted to put athletes' safety first?

That's the concern coming from many corners of the sailing community after it emerged that the ISAF, recently rebranded as World Sailing, was aware of Malaysia's exclusion of Israeli sailors from the recent Youth Worlds from the outset, via a damning report from Sail World.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, World Sailing blamed "delays in communication" by both Israeli and Malaysian officials over the situation that saw Israel's youth team – which included two world champion windsurfers, one of them a defending Youth Worlds RS:X Boys champ – withdraw from the competition on 24 December.

Israel says it acted after failing to receive the necessary visas from Malaysian authorities, with whom it has no diplomatic ties, with just days to go before the competition began.

The accusation comes in the wake of "conditions" under which they were allegedly granted entry to Malaysia, with reports that the team's detachment of bodyguards had been refused clearance on security grounds.

Israeli sports teams compete internationally under armed protection since the terrorist attack at the Munich Olympics in 1972 in which 11 athletes were taken hostage and killed.

The situation took on a different dimension when Malaysia's Minister of Youth and Sport was reported as saying that the exclusion of Israeli sailors was in fact a political move.

As Richard Gladwell writes for Sail World, delays in issuing visas appear to be a regular tactic against Israeli athletes on the world stage, just weeks after a Laser Radial sailor missed valuable practice days when his visa for November's ISAF Worlds in Oman arrived late.

What's more, minutes from ISAF meetings in the lead-up to the 2015 Youth Worlds show that concerns over Israel's participation in Malaysia were raised as soon as Langkawi was selected as the venue back in 2011.

World Sailing, which lost its CEO Peter Sowery last month after just half a year in the top job, is now being lambasted for claiming surprise over an issue that was tabled at a point of concern many years ago – and for sitting on the fence in the subsequent dispute between Israeli and Malaysian officials.

Those complaints from the sailing community are reflected in dismay at the erstwhile ISAF's handling of the serious pollution issues in Guanabara Bay, the sailing venue for this summer's Olympic Games in Rio.

Despite assurances from the sailing body that steps were being taken "to ensure the health and safety of all athletes", there was still a 7% illness rate among competitors at August's test event.

And recent findings by the Associated Press claim that sailors in Rio who ingest just three teaspoons of water from Guanabara Bay's Olympic courses, even some distance offshore, have a 99% chance of contracting a virus.

These issues are leading a growing number to question whether World Sailing is really putting sailors ahead of diplomatic entanglements.

Do you share those concerns? Let us know in the comments below.

Published in World Sailing

Counting two more top ten results, a seven and four, Irish 420 dinghy sailors Douglas Elmes and Colin O'Sullivan of Howth Yacht Club are on equal points with Brazil in the chase for bronze as the World Youth Sailing Championships in Malaysia prepares to enter its last day tomorrrow.  SEE UPDATE HERE

The tantalising prospect of Ireland's first double handed youth medal in 19 years will go right down to the wire in tomorrow's final race.

But despite the level pegging, Leonardo Lombardi and Rodrigo Luz count two race wins in the eight races sailed so far compared to Ireland's single race victory, giving the Brazilians a scoreboard advantage and putting them in third overall and Ireland fourth.

USA crew, Will Logue and Bram Brakman, held the lead comfortably on 16 points to take godl with a race to spare. Australia's Alec Brodie Xavier and Winston Smith move to second overall to 31 points.

Logue and Brakman secured the gold with consistent racing and a better day on the Langkawi water than their rivals.

The USA pair took a fourth in the first race of the day and then broke their duck with a bullet in the next race. Their high finishes throughout the regatta means that their score of 16 points can not be bettered by Australia, Brazil or Ireland. Instead the three have to fight it out for silver and bronze.

Australia's Alec Brodie and Xavier Winston Smith currently hold second place on 31 points when they finished the day with a sixth and a discarded 14th.

Both Leonardo Lombardi and Rodrigo Luz (BRA) and Douglas Elmes and Colin O'Sullivan (IRE) are on 35 points. The Brazilians had a seventh and a discarded 11th on the day and the Irish pair had a fourth and seventh.

Italy's Edoardo Ferraro and Francesco Orlando took the other bullet of the day and are eighth overall on 61 points.

 

Great stuff Doug and Colin - 4th overall in their 420 and in sight of medals with one final race to be sailed tomorrow...

Posted by Howth Yacht Club on Saturday, 2 January 2016

The wind died on the Langkawi course during the day as per the forecast so competitors were lucky to complete two races.

In the Laser girls division, Aisling Keller of Lough Derg Yacht Club took a fourth in race seven and 12th in race eight to move inside the top ten and currently lies a highly creditable ninth overall.

Results were not as good for Liam Glynn in the boys Laser. The Ballyholme sailor scored a 42 and 32 and drops to 18th.

See results here

Read more about the Irish 420 challenge in Friday's Irish Times newspaper here

Published in Youth Sailing

Irish 420 youth sailors Douglas Elmes and Colin O'Sullivan have moved into third place overall after day two of the Youth Sailing World Championships in Malaysia.

It was a perfect day for some of the early starters as the big breeze was back in Langkawi, Malaysia. Four races have now been sailed and the Howth Yacht Club crew took a well earned win in race three of their 33–boat fleet. With fourteen points scored, Elmes and O'Sullivan are on equal points with Singapore's and Jia Yi Loh and Matthew Lau but only six points off second overall held by Australia's Alec Brodie and Xavier Winston–Smith.

Ballyholme YC's Liam Glynn has dropped out of the top ten of the Laser Radial, but only just, the former Topper World Champion is 11th in his 66 boat fleet. Lough Derg YC's Aisling Keller lies 14th from 53.

Always up and around the top of the boy's 420 are USA's Will Logue and Bram Brakman. With three second places and a discarded third, they can't seem to find that elusive bullet, but lead overall on six points.

The first bullet of the day went to Ireland's Elmes and O'Sullivan who sit in third on 14 points with last year's Youth Worlds gold medallist Singapore's Jia Yi Loh, now sailing with Matthew Lau, in fourth. Loh and Lau had an average day by gold medal standards with a discarded 12th and a sixth place.

So is the weight of a gold weighing on his shoulders? From his demeanour and words, I think not, "I'm sailing with a different crew and we know this place is tricky and the fastest sailor may not necessarily win. It's all about how you play the shifts and anyone here could win, and that's why I think it's taken off some stress."

Singaporean sailors generally have a reputation for excelling in lighter winds due to their build, but Loh isn't letting the strong winds that Langkawi is throwing at them hinder his chances, "We are fine with any winds. In Singapore we get light winds, but then we are on the heavy side so we are fine in strong winds as well."

Picking up the other bullet of the day were Finland's Eklund brothers, Jacob and Anton. With middle order finishes in all their other races, the brothers will hope that the bullet will bring a change in fortunes and is a sign of things to come.

There have been a number of technical glitches at the 'incredibly warm' event, according to Afloat.ie insiders. For example, the supplied 420 fleets didn't get to sail on the prescribed training day as all the required equipment hadn't arrived. Likewsie the SL16s (no Irish affected) didn't race on the first day as they waited for equipment.

Click here to go to the results sheets

Published in Youth Sailing

The world sailing organisation has changed its name – and about time too!

The initials, ISAF, had to be explained in the English language as – International Sailing Federation.

Having to explain an organisation’s name does it no favours.

The name was not sufficiently descriptive, it was cumbersome, bureaucratic-sounding and a hang-over from the past when sailing was the preserve of too many elite factions.

Changing to ‘World Sailing’ is more correctly descriptive of the sport.

This was announced at the World Yacht Racing Forum in Geneva, where 280 delegates discussed the future of the sport, how to increase the level of public awareness of sailing, increase active participation, ensure sustainability, deal with emerging safety issues such as foiling and how to build the commercial appeal of sailing to increase sponsorship.

One of the particularly interesting discussions, I felt, was about the training of young sailors and how the sport can ensure their continuance in what we like to regard as “a sport for life.”

There is on-going discussion in the sport here about the level of coaching of younger sailors and whether the Irish Sailing Association, the national governing body, puts too much emphasis on the ‘Pathway’ to competitive international sailing and not enough on clubs and domestic competition.

It has been argued that this discourages junior sailors from long-term participation in the sport and is a counterbalance to the concept of sailing as “a sport for life.”

The approach to junior sailing was discussed at the World Yacht Racing Forum where Andrew Hurst, Editor of Seahorse, the international sailing magazine, said that young sailors were being “absurdly over-coached.” As an example, he said: “We have very few Optimist champions who have gone on to win silverware at senior level. We need to inspire youngsters to look at sailing as a sport for life.”

That remark arguably challenges the Optimist fleet, which introduces the youngest participants to the sport. While the training provided to Optimists gives youngsters a good grounding in the sport and builds their confidence, I have been told by several parents of their concern that this can be over-done and can place too much emphasis on competition.

But I have also seen at first-hand – and admired - the commitment of parents to the organisation of events such as the Optimist Spring Training Weeks held at Baltimore in West Cork, where I saw the benefits of good coaching to the young sailors taking part. They seemed to me to gain confidence and ability in boat-handling, but if they are not destined to become potential ‘winners’ will they drop out of sailing in later years?

Interestingly, the winning skipper of the Volvo Ocean Race, Ian Walker, said at the Geneva meeting that in some developed nations “kids are being over-coached to the point where they want to leave the sport in their late teens, never to return.”

This is an issue which needs more analysis and discussion because many clubs are concerned about membership levels right now and into the future. The continued involvement of young people is vital for the future of the sport.

One of the disappointing aspects of the Geneva meeting, in my view, is that there is no sign yet of World Sailing achieving any change of the polluted Rio waters for Olympic racing next year, nor of getting sailing back into the Paralympics. After next year, disabled sailing has been dropped and that to me is an appalling vista for the future of our sport.

Published in Island Nation

Top Irish 420 youth pairing Douglas Elmes and Colin O'Sullivan got a timely boost before flying out for next week's important ISAF Youth Worlds in Malaysia. The pair won the UK's 420 End of Season regatta at Grafham Water Sailing Club earlier this month and now Elmes and O'Sullivan are part of a three boat Irish team for Langkawi. Belfast's Liam Glynn races in the boy's Laser and Tipperary's Aisling Keller races in the girls Laser.

Sailors will start to arrive at the Langkawi venue on 27 December where they will receive the supplied equipment from Ovington, UpMarine, Nautivela, Sirena Voile, Neil Pryde and Laser Performance/Maclaren.

From there, the ceremony on 28 December will signal the start of the Youth Worlds before racing commences on 29 December. Racing will run through to Sunday 3 January with Friday 1 January a lay day for the sailors.

Langkawi will welcome a record number of male and female Laser Radial sailors for the 2015 Youth Sailing World Championships from 27 December to 3 January.

Historically, the Laser Radial is always the largest at the Youth Worlds and that trend doesn't look like halting anytime soon with 69 boys and 57 girls registered to race in Malaysia, a championship best for both fleets.

Not only that, 2015 will be a record year for the Youth Worlds as a whole with more than 430 sailors from 80 nations registered to sail across nine fleets. The previous best number of nations was 67, set in at the 2014 event in Tavira, Portugal.

The 2014 Laser Radial Boys and Girls medallists have aged out of the Youth Worlds but there is a wealth of large scale event experience in Youth Olympic Games medallists, Laser Radial Youth Worlds medallists and sailors returning to make a second Youth Worlds appearance.

Hungary's Maria Erdi will head into the event with a large number of regattas under her belt in 2015. Spearheading her year is victory at the 2015 Laser Radial Youth World Championships in Kingston, Canada. Erdi took six race wins from the ten race series as she improved on her silver medal at the 2014 edition in Poland.

Erdi's year also includes gaining experience in the elite Sailing World Cup fleet in Weymouth and Portland, Great Britain as well as in larger fleets at EUROSAF regattas in the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. Alongside this, Erdi has also taken victories at the Izola Spring Cup and the Laser Europa Cup – Hungary.

Langkawi will be Erdi's Youth Worlds debut but won't be her first single nation entry event following an 11th in the Byte CII at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games in August, 2014.

Whilst many sailors competing at the Youth Worlds aspire to reach the Olympic Games, only a few make it straight out of youth sailing. Uruguay's Dolores Moreira broke that mould and qualified her nation to Rio 2016 this year following her silver medal at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, a regional qualification regatta for South and North America.

The Uruguayan has had a remarkable 18 months. Moving out of the Laser 4.7 she finished tenth at the 2014 Youth Worlds before heading to the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China where she placed ninth. Nanjing was plagued with light winds but when the breeze came in on the final day Moreira stormed her way to a convincing victory in the final race.

She narrowly missed out on Olympic qualification at the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships but bounced back in July to book her Rio 2016 spot. A month later, she took second at the Laser Radial Youth World and is heading to Langkawi looking to deliver.

Of the top ten placed sailors from 2014, only Moreira and Poland's Magdalena Kwasna return to the event. Kwasna completed the 2015 Laser Radial Youth Worlds podium behind Erdi and Moreira and will certainly be in the mix in Malaysia.

The Laser Radial Girls fleet also features a number of Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympians. Bronze medallist Jarian Brandes from Peru will be joined by Algeria's Nouha El Alia Akil, Cecilia Wollman (BER), Florence Allan (CAY), Kelly Gonzalez (CHI), Louise Cervera (FRA), Hanna Brant (GBR), Paige Clarke (ISV), Paula Pelayo (MEX) and Caroline Rosmo (NOR).

The Laser Radial Boys fleet is set to be the biggest fleet in the history of the Youth Worlds with 69 sailors registered to participate.

Of the 2014 top 20, there are just four returnees. Alistair Young (AUS), Benjamin Wempe (NED), Oskari Muhonen (FIN) and Francisco Guaragna Rigonat (ARG) finished fifth, ninth, 17th and 20th respectively in Tavira, Portugal and each sailor will be gunning for an improvement in position as well as the podium.

Silver medallist at the 2015 Laser Radial Youth Worlds, Gianmarco Planchestainer (ITA) will be hotly fancied for a podium finish as will bronze medallist Nic Baird (USA). Baird is the son of the famous American match racer Ed Baird. Ed holds an America's Cup victory as skipper and three World Sailing Match Racing World titles to his name. In addition he was crowned 2007 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year. Big shoes for the young Nic to fill but the Youth Worlds is where heroes are born and with a role model in his father, the journey to greatness could begin in Langkawi for Nic.

Bernie Chin of Singapore is the only other top ten sailor from the 2015 Laser Radial Youth Worlds fleet heading to Langkawi. Chin knows what it takes to be successful following victory at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games so it will be all to play for.

Joining Chin from the Youth Olympic Games is Paul de Souza (BAH), Pablo Bertran (CAY), Clemente Seguel (CHI), Joshua Ioane (COK), Ahmad Zainuddin (INA), Asri Azman (MAS) and Teariki Numa (PNG).

The Laser Radial Boys and Girls fleets also feature a number of sailors who are heading to the Youth Worlds thanks to their participation at the Youth Worlds Emerging Nations Program clinics. Sailors from the following nations have received support to develop their skills as well as attend the Youth Worlds:

Americas
Antigua, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Ecuador, US Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, Trinidad and Tobago

Africa
Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Mozambique, Seychelles, Tanzania

Asia
Chinese Taipei, Pakistan, Kuwait, Sri Lanka

Europe
Czech Republic, Cyprus, Slovakia, Latvia, Hungary

Oceania
Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Vanuatu

Published in Youth Sailing

Recently appointed International Sailing Federation (ISAF) CEO Peter Sowrey is to depart the post this week. It is the latest in a series of high level departures from the world's governing body for sailing.

An ISAF spokeswoman told Afloat.ie this evening that Sowrey is set to to 'pursue other challenges' after only six months in the job

It is the latest in a string of high profile ISAF departures. John Craig, Head of the Sailing World Cup, left on September 1st, while Training and Development Manager, Dan Jaspers, departed last month.

The spokeswoman said there were 'no current plans to find a replacement'.

Sowrey, former Managing Director of Business Process Outsourcing and Sales for Accenture, took up the post on July 1st 2015. At the time, ISAF said “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”

While it is not clear why the world governing body and its CEO have parted ways, insiders suggested to Afloat.ie the 'magnitude of the task' was not appreciated fully by both sides. 

In February, a job advertisement for the role said 'the CEO will provide strategic leadership to ISAF and its staff and ensure the provision of a timely, first class service to the ISAF membership to ensure the needs of its members are treated as paramount'.

Last night ISAF made the following announcement on its website:

ISAF Announces Resignation of CEO Peter Sowrey

The Executive Committee of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) regret to announce the resignation of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Sowrey of ISAF.

Although brief, Peter has worked diligently during the five-months tenure as CEO and has now decided to pursue other challenges suited to his background.

The Executive Committee wishes Peter luck for the future.

 

Published in World Sailing

A two day meeting of the ISAF Council followed by the Annual General Meeting drew the 2015 Annual Conference to a close in Sanya, China at the weekend.

More than 500 delegates met on the Chinese island of Hainan from 7 - 14 November to make the decisions that will shape the future of sailing into the new year. The meeting of ISAF Council, the final decision making body of ISAF, voted on the recommendations made by the ISAF committees throughout the week.

ISAF President Carlo Croce delivered his report to ISAF Council on 13 November touching on the spirit within the current ISAF Executive Committee as well as the goals of the federation. The report is available to view on the ISAF website here www.sailing.org/news/41430.php

Three new members were welcomed into ISAF. The Nicaragua Federation of Sailing and St Vincent and the Grenadines Sailing Association were welcomed as full members of ISAF with the Anguilla Sailing Association becoming an associate member.

The Montserrat Yachting Association resigned as an ISAF associate member.

The Match Racing Committee was reformed into a Sub-committee that will report into the Events Committee. The Youth Worlds Sub-committee were changed to the Youth Events Sub-committee.

The Windsurfing and Kiteboarding Committee and the Empirical Handicap Sub-committee were discontinued.

The Regional Games and Development & Youth Committee were combined into a single Development and Regions Committee with a Regional Games Sub-committee created. The ISAF Sail Rankings and Match Racing Rankings Sub-committees were changed into Working Parties.

Finally, the Disabled Sailing Committee's name change to the Para World Sailing Committee was approved.

The Nacra 15 was selected as the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships multihull for the 2016 event and onwards. It was also confirmed that the five events for the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games will be the Boy's and Girl's Windsurfing, Boy's and Girl's Kiteboarding and a Mixed Multihull event. The Techno 293+ was confirmed as the windsurfing equipment and the Nacra 15 for the Mixed Multihull. The Kiteboarding equipment is to be confirmed.

Class applications came from Kiteboards, Dinghies, Foiling Catamarans and Around the World Race yachts. The RS Aero, Far East 28R, Volvo 65, IKA Twin Tip Freestyle, IKA Kite Foil and Nacra F20 Carbon were approved by ISAF Council and will now be subject to signing a contract. The M32 Class application was deferred to the 2016 Mid-Year Meeting.

The next ISAF meeting will be the Mid-Year Meeting in Milan, Italy next May with the 2016 Annual Conference taking place in a European destination to be confirmed from 5 - 13 November 2016.

Published in World Sailing
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