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World Sailing Council has voted to adopt new eligibility rules for transgender athletes at the federation’s 2024 Mid Year Meeting.

The Transgender Participation Policy will apply to all World Sailing events – including World Sailing Championships, the Youth Sailing World Championships, and the world or continental championships of the Olympic Classes – and the Olympic Games, including qualifying competitions, and will come into effect from January 1st, 2025.

It was developed following a consultation process including a survey of World Sailing stakeholders and the establishment of a working group made up of representatives from national federations, World Sailing Classes, the World Sailing Medical Commission, and athletes who are transgender female, cisgender female, and non-binary.

In addition, World Sailing sought medical expertise from other international federations including World Athletics and the International Cycling Union (UCI).

Under the new policy, transgender female athletes will only be permitted to participate in the female category of an event, or as a female athlete in the mixed category of an event, if:

they have not undergone male puberty;

they are also able to demonstrate that the concentration of testosterone in their blood has been less than 2.5 nanamoles per litre (nmol/L) continuously for a period of at least 12 months prior to the first event in which they wish to compete.

In addition, transgender female athletes must maintain testosterone in their blood below 2.5 nmol/L at all times.

Transgender male athletes will be permitted to compete in the male category of an event, or as a male in the mixed category of an event, if they provide a written and signed declaration that their gender identity is male.

Non-binary athletes who have been through male puberty and are seeking to compete in the female category of an event, or as a female in a mixed event, must meet the same criteria established for transgender female athletes. Non-binary athletes who have been through male puberty or commenced hormone treatment will be able to compete in the male category of an event, or as a male in a mixed event.

The full policy can be read here.

David Graham, World Sailing CEO, said: “I want to thank the working group, everyone who responded to our stakeholder survey on this topic and the experts we consulted from other sports. I would also like the Board and Council for approving this decision. Sport’s understanding of this complex area of regulation continues to develop and this policy will remain under a watching brief with our Medical Commission.

“We want everyone to feel welcomed and accepted in sailing and we have carefully tried to balance inclusion and fairness.

“But the priority of World Sailing in formulating this policy has been to ensure fair competition at the elite level, where no participant has an unfair or disproportionate advantage over the rest. And, in particular, we have to uphold fairness and integrity in the female and mixed categories of competition.

“I know this news will disappoint some people. However, I hope everyone in our sport will recognise that our responsibility as the international federation was to weigh the available evidence, consider all views, but then to make decisions in the best interests of sailing.”

World Sailing Council also received reports from the President, Chief Executive and the audit committee.

The report from the Events Committee noted that 66 Member National Authorities (MNAs) will send athletes to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, an increase on the Tokyo Games, with 96 MNAs in total participating in the qualifying process.

A recommendation from the Equipment Committee to establish a working party to review sail size in the iQFOiL windsurfer class for the next Olympic cycle was approved by Council.

World Sailing’s adoption of a new governance structure in November this year was progressed further as Council unanimously approved the next phase of the Governance Reform documentation.

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World Sailing, the global governing body for the sport of sailing, has confirmed the appointment of an independent World Sailing Election Panel to oversee the 2024 Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections.

The panel, comprising four independent legal and regulatory professionals, is tasked with ensuring the election process is transparent, fair and adheres to the guidelines stipulated in the World Sailing Constitution.

The four appointees were confirmed in November at the 2023 World Sailing Annual Conference in Malaga, Spain.

  • Margot Foster OLY (Chair) – Former lawyer with extensive governance experience in sport, Chair of World Athletics Election Oversight Panel, Vice President of Motorsport Australia, and 1984 Olympic medallist in rowing for Australia.
  • Phil Cotton – Auditor with board level experience in public practice, sport, education and the voluntary sector, Chair of the World Sailing Audit Committee
  • Niels Lindholm – Compliance & Risk Officer for World Athletics, and member of expert panels with the United Nations, the International Paralympic Committee, the World Badminton Federation, and the Fédération Française d'Athlétisme.
  • Jon Napier – Lawyer and member of the World Athletics Election Oversight Panel, also serving on the legal consultative group for the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, the World Sailing Governance Reform Working Party, and World Sailing Racing Rules Committee.

David Graham, World Sailing CEO, said, “The appointment of an independent World Sailing Election Panel is part of World Sailing’s commitment to good governance. This independent panel brings a strong range of expertise and will be in place to ensure robust and transparent processes in the 2024 elections.

“The four individuals all bring extensive experience in risk and oversight positions within sport and the corporate world, and instil confidence that the highest standards will be maintained.”

The World Sailing Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections will be held in-person at the 2024 World Sailing Annual Conference, scheduled for 4-9 November 2024.

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World Sailing, the world governing body of the sport, has announced Belfast Lough's Chris Lindsay as an International Judge and Umpire for the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Competition.

Lindsay, who also officiated at Tokyo 2020, is the only Irish appointment in an announcement that sees a 50-50 gender split in key positions.

The names of the Race Officials who have been appointed for the 59 International Technical Officials from 33 nations are spread across the Technical Delegates, Race Management Team, International Jury, Technical Committee, Event Disciplinary Investigating Officer and Chief Medical Officer.

Ricardo Navarro from Brazil and World Sailing’s Alexandra Rickham will lead the International Race Official team as Technical Delegates to ensure a fair competition and level playing field for the 330 athletes racing across the ten Olympic Events.

Spain’s Ana Sanchez Del Campo will chair the International Jury, with Estonia's Andrus Poksi as Vice Chair. They will make up a 26-person International Jury who will ensure the Racing Rules of Sailing are properly applied to ensure fair competition.

Full list of appointments here

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Sailing’s highest achievers were honoured at a glittering World Sailing Awards ceremony in Málaga. The 2023 Rolex World Sailor of the Year awards were presented to Tom Slingsby and Kirsten Neuschäfer, in a contest decided by an expert panel and a public vote. Slingsby was separated from his nearest competitor by fewer than 20 votes.

The Magenta Project won the 11th Hour Racing Sustainability Award. The AC40 was named Boat of the Year, 11th Hour Racing won Team of the Year, Dick Rose was presented with the Beppe Croce Trophy and the Andrew Simpson Foundation won the President’s Development Award.

Tom Slingsby was named male 2023 Rolex World Sailor of the Year for the third time at the World Sailing Awards 2023 after guiding his Australia SailGP to a third consecutive title, ensuring he is still the only skipper to have won the SailGP trophy. He is also skipper of American Magic, who will seek success in the America's Cup next year.

Slingsby said: “I’m super humbled to be in this position. Previously when I’ve won this award, it’s been after a Laser world title or a Moth world title but this time it was purely sailing with teams.

“American Magic have had a rough journey so far in their America’s Cup campaign but it feels like we’re really turning a chapter and there are really exciting things to come.

“And then with the Australian SailGP team, these are some of my oldest and best friends in the world and I’m so fortunate to go sailing with them and I’d be nothing without those guys behind me.”

South African Kirsten Neuschäfer was named female 2023 Rolex World Sailor of the Year after writing her name into the history books by becoming the first woman to finish first in the solo Golden Globe Race, a journey around the world reliant on no modern technology. She also came to the rescue of a fellow sailor during the course of the event.

Due to other commitments, Neuschäfer was unable to attend the ceremony but in a video message, she said: “It’s such an incredible honour to be a nominee among such amazing, acclaimed and iconic sailors, but to win this award, to be given this recognition by such an esteemed panel of judges and by the public means so, so much to me. Thank-you to everyone who has believed in me and cheered me on.”

The Magenta Project won the World Sailing 11th Hour Racing Sustainability Award. A global leader in female empowerment in sailing, The Magenta Project’s nine-month mentoring programme has helped 150 women accelerate their progress into their chosen sailing field over the last four years.  

11th Hour Racing was named Team of the Year after winning The Ocean Race, and the AC40 won Boat of the Year.

Dick Rose received the Beppe Croce Trophy for his dedication to the Racing Rules of Sailing which has spanned over thirty years.

The President’s Development Award went to the Andrew Simpson Foundation. The foundation, started in memory of Olympic gold medal winner and America’s Cup winner Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson MBE who tragically passed away in 2013 aged just 26. The foundation strives to transform lives through sailing and has worked for over a decade to build a connected, accessible and inclusive community of sailors globally - increasing access to opportunities through our charitable sailing programs, sailing centres and partners.

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The Spanish city of Málaga will host the 2023 World Sailing Annual Conference, bringing together delegates from around the world.

A six-person Irish delegation will represent Irish interests among over 300 delegates when the meeting convenes from 13-18 November 2023 to review and discuss World Sailing’s strategy for the coming year and beyond, making and ratifying key decisions that will impact sailing at every level, from elite professionals to recreational sailors.

Delegates include sailors, event organisers, Member National Authorities (MNAs), committee members, Class Associations, boat manufacturers, athletes and representatives from World Sailing’s partners.

Paddy Boyd, Fiona Bolger, Con Murphy, Michael O’Connor, Chris Lindsay and new Irish Sailing Association CEO Tim Bourke will attend for Ireland.

Decisions made during the week will impact every level of the sport, from elite competition to grassroots. Before the Conference, World Sailing received 189 submissions proposing changes to World Sailing's regulations, policies and rules. Committees, MNAs, Class Associations and the Board of Directors were all eligible to propose the submissions before the Annual Conference.

World Sailing’s Council will meet on 15 and 18 November to approve, reject or defer the recommendations and proposals from the Committees and will ratify proposals at the Annual General Meeting on 18 November, the final meeting of the Annual Conference.

David Graham, CEO of World Sailing, said, “As we look ahead to a very important year for the sport of sailing, I am delighted to be able to welcome delegates to the wonderful city of Málaga for the 2023 World Sailing Annual Conference.

“This is a great opportunity for the community to come together, share suggestions to improve the sport, reflect upon our successes and where we can improve, and speak openly about the opportunities and challenges facing the sport we all love.

“With the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and the 37th America’s Cup on the horizon next year, the Youth Sailing World Championships still to come this year, and events around the world showcasing the diversity of sailing, this year’s Annual Conference takes on extra significance, and I look forward to a week of fruitful discussions with representatives from across the sport.”

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World Sailing is looking for a host for its next World Sailing Championships t be held between Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games.

The World body is inviting bids for the massive event following the 2023 edition in The Hague.

The seventh World Sailing Championships – between the Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games – will bring a new opportunity for potential event hosts to bid for a split event, according to World Sailing.

In a move aimed at opening up the World Sailing Championships to more Member National Authorities and more cities/regions, potential hosts can bid for one of two sessions of the event.

The first World Sailing Championships were first held in Cadiz in 2003 and have been staged in every Olympic cycle since. As well as being an amazing event in their own right, they are also the main qualifying tournament for the Olympic Games.

The 2023 edition in The Netherlands attracted around 1200 athletes from 80 countries this summer, and a global broadcast audience of millions watched them. This year’s event was also the first edition to include Para events.

David Graham, World Sailing's Chief Executive Officer, said: “World Sailing is committed to growing the sport on every continent. The seventh edition will be the first time the event has been offered to two hosts, creating an opportunity for more of our Member National Authorities to host sailing’s greatest championships.

“The World Sailing Championships are unique. Only the very best in the world will be there, and no other event in sailing combines all of our Olympic classes with four Para events. The medals are shared equally between men and women and, because of the greater athlete numbers, the level of competition is higher than it is for the Olympic Games.

“As we saw with the 2023 event in The Hague, hosting the World Sailing Championships creates a superb platform to promote a city or region to a global audience while also providing a Member National Authority with an unmatched opportunity to develop sailing in their country.”

Further details on hosting the seventh Sailing World Championships can be obtained by downloading the bid document from the World Sailing website or by emailing [email protected].

The deadline for expressions of interest to host the seventh Sailing World Championships is 30 November, 2023 with final bids required by 30 March, 2024. A final decision will be made by the World Sailing Board in May 2024.

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Sailing coaches at the ILCA 4 Youth World Championships in Volos, Greece, have been hailed as heroes after they saved over 130 people from wildfires.

The coaches witnessed the scene from across the water as racing concluded and quickly sprang into action.

They grabbed bottles of drinking water and headed for the nearby village to evacuate residents and local native wildlife from the beach after fires blocked all exits from the area on the mainland.

The ILCA 4 Youth World Championships coaches in Volos, Greece witnessed the wildfire scene from across the water as racing concluded and quickly sprang into actionThe ILCA 4 Youth World Championships coaches in Volos, Greece witnessed the wildfire scene from across the water as racing concluded and quickly sprang into action

The coaches then travelled the 10 miles across the bay to Nea Anchialos, Magnesia, at full speed.

Around 60 boats saved more than 130 people from the beach and returned them to Volos.

The rescue has been praised by Andrus Poksi, Field Operations Officer at the International Laser Class Association, who said, “The selfless and quick reaction of the coaches was inspiring to see. The contribution of the coaches to help the local people shows that sailing is a sport where teamwork and camaraderie shine through in even the most challenging circumstances.”

An aerial firefighting aircraft at the scene of a wildfire close to the ILCA 4 Youth World Championships in Volos, GreeceAn aerial firefighting aircraft at the scene of a wildfire close to the ILCA 4 Youth World Championships in Volos, Greece

The city of Volos is now considered to be the safest place in the area, and all sailors and coaches are unharmed.

Ireland is represented at the 440 boat boys and girls championships by 21 youth sailors. Entry list here.

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Following the Mid-Year Meeting of the World Sailing Council, the World Sailing Board has met to consider the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in response to guidance for International Federations from the International Olympic Committee.

All Council Members attending the Mid-Year Meeting as elected representatives of World Sailing’s Member National Authorities were given the opportunity to offer their region’s view. Although there was no formal vote, there was very clear majority support for maintaining World Sailing’s current position in relation to the return to international competition for athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus.

After considering all views expressed in the meeting by World Sailing Council Members, the Board has agreed on the following:

The Board continues to support the IOC’s guidance and the Fundamental Principles of Olympism in the Olympic Charter; and equally, the key principles of non-discrimination of athletes, and the separation of sport and politics highlighted by both the IOC Executive Board and ASOIF Council. The Board recognises that the Fundamental Principles of Olympism inform the IOC’s recommendation to allow the return of Russian and Belarusian competitors as individual neutral athletes.

Given the timing of the return is a matter for the International Federations, the Board’s decision remains consistent: April 2024 is the targeted opportunity for sailors with a Russian or Belarusian passport to return to international competition as neutrals.

With regards to Olympic qualification, the Semaine Olympique Française (SOF), is an event at this time and presents opportunities for sailors with a Russian or Belarusian passport to compete as individual neutrals in qualifying for Paris 2024.

World Sailing says it remains 'wholly committed to supporting Ukraine’s sailing community through what continues to be an unimaginably difficult time'.

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World Sailing has issued a statement welcoming the new guidance from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board, recommending the Conditions of Participation for individual athletes and support personnel with a Russian or Belarusian passport in international sports competitions organised by International Federations and international sports events organisers.

The World Sailing Board convened this week to consider the new guidance, which places any decision at the sole discretion of International Federations. The Board supports the Fundamental Principles of Olympism in the Olympic Charter and recognises that the principles guide the IOC’s recommendation to allow the return of Russian and Belarusian competitors as independent neutral athletes.

Noting that the IOC Executive Board have not yet considered the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the Olympic Games at Paris 2024, the Board's current view is that in regard to Olympic qualification events, the Semaine Olympique Française (SOF) in April 2024 represents the targeted opportunity for any potential readmission to Olympic qualification events. SOF is a major regatta in the Paris 2024 qualifying process, more details of which can be found here.

Given the broad diversity of sailing and given the strong views held by World Sailing’s Member National Authorities, the Board’s position is that the wider decision on the return to international sailing events will be made in consultation with the World Sailing Council at the Mid-Year Meeting, to be held on 18th of May, 2023. Following the Council meeting, the Board intend to make a decision, subject to World Sailing’s policies and regulations.

World Sailing remains wholly committed to supporting Ukraine’s sailing community through what continues to be an unimaginably difficult time.

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World Sailing has announced that the host venue of the 2023 Youth Sailing World Championships will be the coastal resort town of Armação dos Búzios in Brazil, while the 2024 edition is being planned for Italy’s Lake Garda.

The 2023 Youth Sailing Worlds will take place from 8-16 December within Rasa Beach Bay, from Praia Rasa in the west of the bay to Praia dos Ossos at the eastern end.

World Sailing president Quanhai Li said: “As we look ahead to the 52nd and 53rd editions of the Youth Sailing World Championships, we are extremely proud to share one of World Sailing’s most important events with two locations steeped in sailing history.

“The commitment of both organising committees, national sailing federations and local partners to the sailors, sailing, and World Sailing’s vision for sustainability, equality and inclusion are great foundations for truly memorable events over the next two years.“”

David Graham, World Sailing’s chief executive added: “The Youth World Championships are always a highlight of the sailing calendar and I’m delighted the youth worlds committee have selected two impressive locations. We look forward to ensuring the respective organising committees deliver successful events.”

‘This event opens the door to our future goal of hosting a World Sailing Championship here in Brazil’

Known as a popular vacation destination, Búzios is located 137km east of Rio de Janeiro and boasts 23 beaches within a calm, natural horseshoe bay with ideal sailing conditions courtesy of annual trade winds from northeast to east and between 10-18 knots.

The race village will be located at several sites in Búzios including the planned community of Aretê Buzios, which is capable of providing on-site facilities for sailors, coaches, equipment and visitors, and the Iate Clube Armação de Búzios (ICAB), venue of the 2009 edition.

The Organising Committee will be led by Marco Aurelio de Sá Ribeiro, president of the Brazilian Sailing Federation, and comprise leading sailors with support from the Brazilian Navy.

“I think the great legacy is to inspire young Brazilians to sail more and to continue sailing, in addition to keeping the boats in the country, doubling the size of youth sailing in Brazil,” the president said. “Another goal is to consolidate the training centre in Búzios as a reference location for teams from all over the world. This event opens the door to our future goal of hosting a World Sailing Championship here in Brazil.”

The Notice of Race for the 2023 Youth Sailing World Championships will be published in February.

‘It is a huge honour to have the chance to organise the Youth Sailing World Championship for the first time in Italy’

Meanwhile, Alto Lago di Garda is being lined up as the site of the 2024 Youth Sailing World Championships from 13-20 July 2024.

Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and borders the regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige. Blessed with inspiring scenery, clean waters and constant winds — known as Peler and Ora, coming from the north in the morning and the south in the afternoon — it is a great venue for sailing and windsurfing.

In a new concept, it has been agreed subject to contract, that World Sailing will work with several Italian clubs located on the lake, each with a wealth of tournament experience, including Fraglia della Vela Riva, Lega Navale Italiana Riva del Garda, Circolo Vela Arco, Circolo Surf Torbole, Circolo Vela Torbole, Fraglia Vela Malcesine.

Francesco Ettorre, president of the Italian Sailing Federation said: “For me and the entire Italian Sailing Federation, it is a huge honour to have the chance to organise the Youth Sailing World Championship for the first time in Italy. It represents an international recognition for the work carried out so far.

“For this opportunity, I wish to thank first of all, World Sailing president Quanhai Li; Minister for Sport and Youth, Andrea Abodi; the Italian National Olympic Committee and president Giovanni Malagò; and the Sport e Salute’s president Vito Cozzoli. I also want to thank all the clubs who make up the organising committee because it is only thanks to them that it is possible to succeed in bringing such high value events to Italy.”

Published in Youth Sailing
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