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2014 ISAF Annual Conference, ISAF President's Report

ISAF President Carlo Croce delivered the President's Report to ISAF Council at the 2014 ISAF Annual Conference in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Your Majesty, Members Of Council.

I apologise for reading my speech but it is necessary for the simultaneous translation service that we provide. I hate reading. I prefer talking ‘live’ but had to accept. Also I had to follow this by order from GENERALISSIMO Helen Fry and to her we send a big kiss from us all.

I am very pleased to see you here in Palma, the Annual Conference that marks the Mid-Term of the current Executive’s tenure. We shall be making a full report to you later in the meeting but I would again like to compliment my fellow Executive Members on their extraordinary commitment to ISAF. How lucky I am to have them.

We have asked the Committee Chair to review and update their Goals and Priorities for the Executive to study at our meeting in February 2015. I know we will see that much has been achieved in their areas and I am pleased with the progress the Executive has made so far but we have more to do!

After more than 17 years with ISAF our CEO, Jerome Pels, has decided to pursue other professional challenges. Jerome has had the foresight and leadership to steer ISAF through many challenges and will be missed by the President, Members of the Executive Committee, his colleagues in the ISAF Secretariat and greater worldwide sailing community. I am sure you will join me in wishing Jerome much success with his new professional challenges. He is a very nice person.

Also I want to thank all our staff. It has been a demanding period for the ISAF Office. I have appreciated your support.

As you know one of my main aims was to secure sponsorship for ISAF and I am happy to say we have made good progress with potentially two organisations very interested in becoming an ISAF sponsor. Hopefully very soon we will be able to formally announce at least one of them.

These negotiations take time and patience but I hope you agree it has been worthwhile. Our new partners are both highly reputable organizations and their valuable sponsorship will enable ISAF to add another dimension in raising the profile of our sport. Sailing has a wonderful arena and we have been able to show integrity and credibility now we must ensure we can demonstrate to our new partners a positive return on their investment. We will need to create an internal commitment to this organization, and to our existing sponsors, and show we can offer them a great platform to showcase their brands. We now need to build up this team.

To me communication is a priority one now and clear communication needs to be relevant, timely, accurate and easy to understand and this will be essential for our sponsors, our members and our sailors. Communication is also an important tool in achieving productivity and maintaining strong working relationships at all levels of our organization. We have started to address this problem with the monthly ‘Update from the ISAF Secretariat’ and Gary has prepared an extensive paper on our future communications plans. We need to have a communication system in place that is constantly evolving by using new technology and information delivery systems. At the mid-point of this term of office the Executive has a responsibility to improve our communication methods and infrastructure. As you know and as we have seen after Weymouth the IOC is most conscious of this issue.

Most of the concerns I have been hearing about whilst I have been here in Palma come down to poor communication or misinformation.

I repeat – improvement in internal and external communications is now my first goal and close connected to everything I have just said.

The Executive has withdrawn submission 025-14. The practice and procedures of Sailor Classification have been thoroughly debated in recent weeks. We are grateful for the very helpful feedback ISAF has received from many race organizers, classes and yacht clubs. The Sailor Classification Commission has proposed several very important improvements to the system that will be implemented over the next year. We will review these upgrades frequently. The main points that were worrying us have been overcome therefore it has been very useful for ISAF to have caused so much interest. We find the final solutions proposed most satisfying. We have always said that ISAF does not want to be seen as the Police or the tax office – goal achieved.

I have travelled extensively representing ISAF this year receiving a warm welcome everywhere. One area I am determined to improve is our branding at events. I attended a regatta which only had one small ISAF flag – another with virtually no ISAF branding at all. This has to change. ISAF needs to have a strong presence at our events – even at high profile events. Work is underway to create a ‘House of ISAF’ which will be located in a prominent area in each of our venues and the Executive are currently reviewing an ISAF Protocol for Branding - I will report back on developments next year.

As I have previously mentioned, the success of the World Cup is essential for the sport. Much work has been done in this area and after your approval of the new concept we will have our inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup final in Abu Dhabi. This also marks the first time ISAF has been directly involved in the implementation of an event and this must be the template for the major ISAF events in the future. This particular aspect is a major change for us for now we really own and build an event first hand; this is the product we can sell to sponsors and the media. You might remember this was our first goal.

The Final will bring the best sailors to Abu Dhabi and we will have more than 260 athletes which is quite an achievement for an event that didn’t exist five months ago. This regatta will introduce new concepts to our game – the 3 minute countdown, communications via radio to the athletes and Kiteboarding. I would like to thank our group which has been working on this but also the Adu Dabi Tourism Office and all their staff. A big thank you also to Aboullah and his excellency Sheik Khaled

After a bid process for the two European Sailing World Cup events Weymouth and Hyères were selected. Work has already begun on securing an Asian venue and I am confident the new vision for the Sailing World Cup will be fulfilled.

To me 2017 is the year when, if everything works well the Sailing World Cup will be up to what we expect.

We will have reports from Walter Boddener regarding the test event in Rio and from Nazli and Quanhai about the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games but I hear that both venues were very impressive and the events a success.

The 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships delivered fleet racing across all Olympic Classes against the spectacular back drop of the City of Santander. The final numbers of broadcasters that took live coverage from this event showed a staggering increase from the previous ISAF World Championships in Perth. We are talking of 23 broadcasters which according to Gary is a respectable number. On the water competitors enjoyed a variety of weather conditions that tested both light and heavy weather and I am certain that this event has left Santander with a legacy that will be appreciated by sailors long into the future. We all know there have been a few problems but we have seen how complex this event has become because of the huge numbers of teams and boats.

The recent sad events involving the yacht ‘Cheeki Rafiki’ highlight the need for good offshore safety and training and ISAF has been involved in the investigation and recommendations arising from that incident. We are all very much aware that a dynamic environment like the sea can make things go from bad to worse and it is essential to be comprehensively trained and prepared. In March this year, ISAF Offshore Personal Safety Course Providers from 14 MNAs came together in the UK for a three day training workshop to exchange ideas and develop the training and safety courses. The Guide to Offshore Personal Safety book has also been translated into Chinese and French.

The reorganization of our structure is slowly evolving and you will see a Submission from the Executive Committee on a proposal for the role of Affiliate Continental Members within our organization. A number of other submissions were also received from multiple MNAs concerning the issue, and we have had constructive discussions with representatives of the Associations themselves here in Palma. We have agreed a way forward so a full consultation process can begin with the aim of making a detailed submission for you to consider at the 2015 Annual Conference – just as we did for the merger of IFDS and ISAF.

Also and most importantly I would like to thank His Majesty for his contribution to all our discussions. We have managed to stop him falling asleep which is a great result. I do not know if this is due to His Majesty being worried about our ideas or because he simply got really involved. Thank you very much from all of us on the Executive Committee.

I would now like to invite my fellow Executive Members to give you all a brief update on developments and the work they have been doing in their areas.

To stay up-to-date with the ISAF Annual Conference, a live blog will be available from Saturday 1 November through to Saturday 8 November here

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