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World Sailing Presidential Newsletter: July 2019

by Kim Andersen, President World Sailing 31 Jul 07:00 BST
Kim Andersen President, World Sailing and IOC President Thomas Bach © World Sailing

I hope you are all enjoying the summer and some good sailing.

In early July I had the pleasure of meeting with the IOC President Thomas Bach to follow up on issues discussed at the IOC session and the ongoing process of developing our sport. The theme from the session "Change or be Changed" means so much, but at the same time we are faced with keeping the history, tradition and legacy of our sports intact.

The importance of attracting youth, improving gender balance and attracting a greater audience are definitely some of the driving forces in a constant evolution. It was a pleasure having time to update the President about our sport.

Increasingly, many articles in the sailing media worldwide are about the dilemmas, the developments and how to attract youth and create a more gender-equal sport; in short, how to stay relevant as a sport.

Accommodating new disciplines, embracing developments in technology and attracting youth should be a catalyst for change. Sailing has always been a diverse sport, so let's use it to develop sailing around the world, attract more young people to our sport and work on gender balance.

We cannot do this by having a one-size-fits-all approach. Some principles can be applied in common which is also reflected in these articles - for example, youth want to learn more than just Sailing, they expect to learn and gain a deeper understanding, more than being "just" instructed. They are together more with friends in mixed groups, so rethinking the approach and strengthening mixed sailing at entry level is one of the principles to look at. We have fantastic classes, like the Opti, giving youth the experience of racing. Let's strengthen the recruitment for our strong classes by focusing efforts at entry level.

Women in Sailing Survey

A lot of initiatives are ongoing worldwide to strengthen gender equality, and you may have heard that The World Sailing Trust is running a global strategic review on Women in Sailing and is welcoming views from across the world via an international survey available in four languages (French, Spanish, Portuguese and English).

So far, we have gathered around 3,000 responses, and we would love to hear more from male and female sailors from all of our member nations around the world. Please share the link below with your local and regional networks to enhance our reach. The more global responses we get, the better able we will be to make recommendations which will support our varied sailing community across the world.

There is more information about the strategic review and the link to the survey on the World Sailing Trust's website here.

Please take part - your voice really matters!

Events Update

The Sailing season in the northern hemisphere is peaking, with many regattas and championships happening every week; one being the 2019 Optimist World Championship, which attracted more than 250 sailors aged 11 to 15 years old from 65 nations, beating the previous record.

I had the pleasure of meeting Italy's Marco Gradoni in Venice last year as a double Opti World Champion - and he did it again, winning for the third time and making history for the Optimist Class in the process. It will be very difficult to beat that record - what a great talent! When asked about what's next he said: "I have sailed in the Optimists for several years and now I would like to move on," adding he hoped to venture into faster WASZP foiling.

I was in Gdynia earlier this month at the Opening Ceremony of The Hempel Youth Sailing World Championships 2019. It was a hugely successful event, with 409 young sailors from 66 nations taking part. The Youth Sailing World Championships were first held in Sweden in 1971, with 16 nations competing - shows just how far this long-running regatta has come!

Gdynia has a long regatta history, and is perfect for big multi-class regattas, as well as being a National Training Centre for Federations. As a venue it really showcased youth sailing at its very best. My thanks and congratulations go to the Polish Yachting Association, and especially to the young local organising team and the many young race officials showing the sailors some of the many pathways within our sport. Thanks for the great memories and a fantastic event. The 2020 edition of the event will take place in December in Salvador, Brazil.

You can read more about the Hempel Youth Sailing World Championships 2019 here.

Sailing the Charal in Lorient, France

Having sailed at many regattas on the French Mediterranean coast, I have also had the pleasure of racing in Brest, Douarnenez and La Rochelle on the west coast.

Some of my sailing friends told me I needed to visit Lorient. I was not sure what to expect, knowing only that this is the launching base for some of the iconic offshore races and the round-the-world race, the Vendée Globe. Sailing has many iconic places around the world with great histories and tradition, but Lorient has really established its position over a relatively short period of 10-12 years.

It's not only a perfect sailing spot but major parts of the sailing industry are available here, with everything from boatbuilders, rig builders, sailmakers and marine engineering in general and some of the leading specialists in the world. So what made this Sailing Mecca develop in such a relatively short period?

The facilities were available (on a former marine base) and the regional government saw the potential in building a new Sailing Mecca on the west coast of France, at the same time making a strong link between the school system and being educated in sailing. They did not only develop a Sailing City, but a whole region.

I had the pleasure of going sailing with the Charal Imoca 60 with Jérémie Beyou and his team.As a traditional sailor this looks as little like a sailing boat as a Formula 1 racer to a normal sports car! To sail it and see it perform in gusts on foils give you the feeling of racing an FD, but this is a 60-foot hi-tech machine and it handles perfectly the speeds I tried - up to 20 knots in a medium breeze.

It's amazing how far the technology has developed in our sport these last years - sailing was always very diverse but the latest technology shows new ways of racing and showcasing our sport. With all these fantastic "racing machines" here in Lorient, it's also very clear why in France the offshore sailors are known more widely than many Olympic sailors, when it's the other way around in most other parts of the world.

Coming ashore after a day on the water, we were greeted by families on the mooring looking at all these fascinating round-the-world boats, and kids running up to get a signature from our skipper, one of the many offshore heroes. I am pretty sure most kids here are starting to have the dream of Sailing and probably around the world. In sailing we should attract new sailors by using our diversity and all the positive values we share within our sailing community worldwide and with nature.

Pan American Games

Looking ahead, the coming weeks sees one of the biggest continental championships taking place, The PanAm Games in Paracas, Peru. It's really encouraging that Sailing has the third highest number of nations participating amongst all of the sports at the 2019 Games, only surpassed by Swimming and Athletics.

The Continental Games worldwide are important and need to have a strong engagement to secure the best possible sports presentation, and for sailors to compete in Sailing and Para sailing in relevant classes, not necessarily only focusing on Olympic classes or disciplines.

The PanAm Games are one of the absolute top multi-sports Games with:

41 nations
6,700 athletes
413 medal events
39 sports
31 sports on the programme of Tokyo 2020
61 disciplines
17 competition days
12,000 volunteers

Please feel free to reach out to me either via , www.facebook.com/KimAndersenSailing, or twitter.com/KimAndersen. As always, I am happy to hear from you.

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