ISAF CONFERENCE REPORTS NOVEMBER 2000.
CHOICE OF EQUIPMENT FOR WINDSURFING DISCIPLINE. ATHENS 2004.


Dear Friends,

Four years ago, a debate started on how we could reinvigorate competition windsurfing worldwide. Out of it came the Formula Windsurfing Class and we started to campaign for the 2004 Olympics. That campaign culminated at the Edinburgh Conference of ISAF, this week. Here are the high lights of that week as it affected us.

OLYMPIC BOARD WORKING PARTY Chaired by Rich Jeffries.USA. They were charged 12 months ago with reviewing the two contenders, FW and IMCO. IBSA and IMCO were asked to provide information and Rich asked if he could attend both FW and IMCO championships. IMCO invited him to attend one in Argentina, IBSA did not invite him. No detailed reports of the FW championships were presented to the Working Party.

SATURDAY 4th NOVEMBER

The Council of ISAF were circulated with an e mail from the board of Boards and More, owners of the board brands, Mistral, F2, and Fanatic. It stated that the company 'Supported a switch to FW for the Olympics' . They went into detail on how this should be done. They also stated that they would produce the Mistral One Design as long as it was Olympic.

The one and only working party meeting was called for Saturday. The original idea was only to produce an agreed report, but WSC chairman, Aaron Botzer, asked them to also vote on which board should be selected. Only two members of the six attended. No IBSA or IFCA officials were on the committee, but it did include the IMCO chairman. Written votes, I gather, were received and the committee voted 4 to 2 for IMCO.

The International Classes Committee met in the afternoon and Luc Rogiers was re- elected to represent the ICC on the Windsurfing Committee.

SUNDAY 5th NOVEMBER

The Windsurfing Committee (WSC), chaired by Aaron Botzer, ISR, met.

Working Party hard copy report was given to committee during the morning session. Only the working party chairman had read it. They only had the lunch break to look at it.

Early in the afternoon session, the submissions/bids from IBSA and IMCO were considered and voted on without detailed discussion although the committee was well ahead of schedule and not short of time. Donald Sutherland endeavoured to start a discussion. Felipe Bellini wanted a delay of the decision. Luc Rogiers and Walter Mielke were the only other members of the 16 strong committee who have real Funboarding experience. The IBSA and IMCO were never shown the report or asked to comment on it. We were only told afterwards that the IMCO bid contradicted statements about FW in the IBSA bid.

The issue of Mistral unpaid building fees was raised. The company had paid nothing for two and a half years. Many observers wondered how an Olympic Class could get into such a situation. The vote was a forgone conclusion

Voting demonstrated clearly to all that the committee is totally polarised between Mistral and Formula Windsurfing/Funboarding camps. No other ISAF Committee has this type of problem. As Formula Windsurfing members were always outnumbered two to one and the committee chairman also voted for imco, the result was foregone and known almost a year ago when the IMCO yearbook was printed and the new members of the various IMCOI committees were known.

The WSC were fully aware of the statement by Boards and More , but the chairman did not see fit to debate it.

The Mistral brand representative, Ivor Hopkins explained that the new company had reserved a sum of money for the 1999/2000 building fees but no payment has been made despite his frequent requests to the company to do so.

Our Funboard Class rules are approved. Maximum board width..1005mm. Footstraps maybe moved but the number not increased.

TUESDAY 7th NOVEMBER

Events Committee, chaired by Neils Erhardt, DEN, which studies the recommendation of lower committees and then makes recommendations about all the Olympic boats and boards, met.

WSC chairman, Aaron Botzer, presents the committee's vote result with the added comment that there appeared to be a problem over payments and there maybe technical and/or legal problems.

The Boards and More statement supporting Formula Windsurfing, was then circulated to the committee.

The debate opened up and soon, Boards and More legal representative, Dieter Neupert, steps up to explain manufacturers position. They support a switch to Formula Windsurfing but will continue making Mistral One Design board as long as it is Olympic.(and not a day longer?!)

Jerome Pels of ISAF, explains that they have sent Boards and More invoices/reminders and the debt is on the councils list of bad debts.

Arve Sundheim, the ISAF Secretary General reads out part of fax just received from Boards and More concerning payments and renegotiation of contract.

Committee votes 10 to 9 in favour of IMCO for the 2004 Olympics.

WEDNESDAY 8th NOVEMBER

The Sailing Committee meets, under the chairmanship of Cliff Norbury, GBR.

Aaron Botzer announces wsc decision. Donald Sutherland, sitting beside him, explains deficiencies of working party, including fact that three of the 6 members were directly connected with imco and its events organisation while only Donald had any connection with Formula Windsurfing, and that was not an association or organisation connection.

Aaron contradicted everything Donald stated and it was very evident to everyone that the WSC is split. Cliff Norbury stated that as the working party report contains more contradictions than evidence, and one of the bids attacks the facts stated in the other, the committee needed more information before it can make a recommendation.

Cliff explains that this is not a simple decision between two classes. Because Olympic boardsailing has only one class, the decision pre-decides who can participate with a chance of winning a medal , by their weight and height.

When one committee member said Formula Windsurfing was new, Cliff almost reprimanded him, saying 'he should have done some homework' and Formula Windsurfing had been around for years in its Funboard Class format, and it was not the fault of the Formula Windsurfing promoters that ISAF did not have sufficient information as they (IFCA/IBSA/PWA) had been in contact with ISAF for two years.

Cliff's finally suggested that the decision should be delayed until after an evaluation and a report to the mid year council meeting.

The Committee accepts his recommendation without a vote.

THURSDAY 9TH NOVEMBER

The ISAF Council meets,

This is the decision making body of ISAF. 37 members, representing 120 countries, vote while the ISAF Executive can only sit, comment and prey!

The ISAF Accounts are reviewed. The TV rights from the Olympics are $4.4 million. We also learn that the total income from Funboard building fees and PWA advertising fees to ISAF amount to about 20% of what ISAF receives from all its many Classes.

At the beginning of the meeting, there was considerable manoeuvring by the Israeli and Spanish delegates to change the executive's suggested way the meeting would be progressed. Electronic secret voting was introduced for the first time., as recommended by the IOC. This at least gives a chance for a mandated delegate to vote according to his or her own conscience rather than as instructed by his national authority. To the amusement of the audience, it took 20 minutes and much practice before the council members got the hang of it, as they practised voting for a coca or Pepsi cola, bru-iron or tonic (with gin). Much to our surprise, the Pepsi won the vote!

The first item was the 2004 Olympic regatta. First they agreed not to adhere to some of last year's decisions, clearing the decks for change. Such items as to match race or not to match race and how many keelboats or dinghy classes could be accommodated in the Olympic Regatta. The IOC have warned ISAF that the number of classes(disciplines) may be reduced from 11 to 10 and number of competitors may be reduced from 400 to 380 as part of the IOC program of cutting down. They want to reduce the number of competitors from 11,000 to 10,000. I assume they want to make room for another 1000 media men!

Having decided that, it was time to deal with the choice of Classes starting with Windsurfing. As you know, it was a straight choice of FW or IMCO. Our friends soon revealed themselves, as one by one they asked ISAF to move Windsurfing forward. The Council members from the Dominican Republic, The Netherlands, the Nordic group, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and USA were on our side. On the other hand we had the all powerful and dominating Eurosaf group against any change until 2005. Argentina, France, Spain, and Israel were the most active opponents. The Germans wavered. How they voted we shall never know. The Argentinian delegate actually said that there was no FW racing in his country. We have visited Buenos Airies, where he lives, twice and visited several clubs where 100 competitors over the last twelve months have taken part in some 50 races. The problem is that the FW/Funboarding group are not affiliated to the National Authority and therefore officially, simply do not exist! There is a lesson for all Funboarding national associations to learn there. You may see a windsurfer on the beach, but if he is not accredited to an MNA, he is not part of their statistics.

There was a move, strongly recommended by Sailing Committee chairman, Cliff Norbury, that the decision be delayed until the FW facts presented and challenged by IMCO could be checked. Aaron Botzer, Windsurfing Committee stated that his working party had 'worked for a year' before making their recommendation. Cliff Norbury stated that the Windsurfing Committee were biased due to their composition. It needed a 'relaxation' of the ISAF regulations to delay the decision to May. If it were agreed, other classes, and the ladies committee would be asking for the same treatment.

The Council voted by a considerable majority to make the decision immediately and the vote was taken. We all held our breath and crossed our fingers as we stared at the screen.

IMCO 22 FW 15. No abstentions.

FRIDAY 10th NOVEMBER

The Council Meeting continues and the reports of other committees are reviewed. When they got back to the Sailing Committee, the Israeli Council member asks Cliff Norbury to apologise for his remarks about the make up of the Windsurfing Committee and the way it operated. Cliff gave his apologies for any offence anyone may have suffered, saying that his only intention was to point out a problem. He asked the Council if he could make a study of the composition of the WSC and report back to Council. President Henderson agreed and the meeting went on to other business.

AFTER THOUGHTS

We fought a hard and always honest battle over the last 2 years, which is more than can be said of IMCO. We had to change ISAF's whole view of Olympic one design into a much more flexible multi manufacturer, multi design Class. We had to also persuade them that short boards were better than long boards. It was never the simple battle that other Classes have had in the past, namely which One Design is better suited than another for the next Olympics. Conservatism won the day. But we have gained considerably through the campaign.

  1. We have created a new Class which has had far more course racing than any other windsurfing Class in the last 12 months. We know that IMCO as a national racing class is all but dead.

  2. The Funboard Class has elected to use the same rules in its course racing from 2001 onwards, which means that shortboard racing will increase very significantly.

  3. Major national authorities such as the FFV and the RYA have started or will be shortly be starting large youth training programs on shortboards. The smaller MNA's will be left behind if they too do not start the switch to short boarding.

  4. IBSA, IFCA and the PWA have learned to work very closely together.

  5. Everyone is now aware that Formula Windsurfing is the moving force in our sport.

  6. We have made many new friends. Don Sutherland, retiring Windsurf Committee vice-chairman and chairman of the FW Campaign Committee gets our undying thanks for the work he did for us. There are those within the centre of ISAF who gave everything they could and will be remembered, as will those in the MNA's who gave us their support.

  7. On the otherhand IMCO and ISAF are going to have to live with a manufacturer who has indicated that he does not want to build the board, who does not pay building fees readily and wants to renegotiate the ISAF contract. Not a very good start to the next four years.

2001 PROJECTS

  1. The formation and running of the IWA is the first priority.
  2. Agree and establish a new ISAF recognised short board youth class like the FFV Fun Kids which is up and running.
  3. Re-establish good relations with IMCO.
  4. Prepare the 2008 campaign.
Finally, some personal notes. This has been a long crusade which actually started in 1996. I hope my personal disappointment has not coloured this report. FW is a worldwide success and that is wonderful. This was an exciting conference. I did not sleep at all during the last two nights. During every lunch break and evening function, one kept one's eyes out for 'movers and shakers', those who have votes, to talk to (lobby), to explain our cause. We attended about five functions. I was the only non-Scotsman to dress in a kilt and sporran for the evening of Scottish dancingit did get a lot of laughs and the women wanted to know what a Sporran was!!! The men wanted to know what I was wearing, if anything, underneath!! ISAF President, Canadian Paul Henderson has a Scottish background and together with Donald Sutherland, they too 'wore the kilt'. Finally, the conference was an excuse for me to buy a couple of new suits so Sheila will have a smart man to escort her in the next year. ..

And that is Windsurfing!!!!?????

Steven at IFCA. 11th November 2000.




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