Posts Tagged ‘ISAF’
My first long trip since becoming a father was an eye-opening one for me in many ways. I learned that it takes about 15 days before family Facetime chats fall off and the missing really begins. I learned that Sailing Anarchy can be a force for positive change. I learned that driving non-stop from Barcelona to Amsterdam alone costs a fortune in tolls, fuel, and misery. But mostly, I enjoyed being back in the thick of it for three extremely important events for the sport I love. I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped make the trip possible, and I encourage you to check out informative pieces I did with each of the four sponsors during the trip:
Musto’s head of marketing and the Figaro sailor who reps them in France chatted with me about their new offerings and just how much of the Vendee fleet wears HPX in this video from METS.
Torqeedo Marketing Director Georg Roben gave some candid answers about the company and products that have netted two of the prestigious “Most Innovative Product” awards in the past five years at the METS show in this video.
As usual, Doyle Sails NZ owner Mike Sanderson was funny and interesting in this live chat about the Hugo Boss sails, superyacht sail technology, and the future of the Volvo Ocean Race, while Bruce Schwab explained what Ocean Planet Energy’s slick battery, regulator, and charging solutions do for ocean racers in this interview.
Enjoy them, and stay tuned for the next big thing. Got something your company thinks needs some coverage? Let me know.
A Hazy, Crazy Vendee
A special invitation to be aboard one of just a handful of support RIBs permitted inside the 2016 Vendee Globe starting area gave me a great view to one of the most special single days in all of sailing; a day where our humble sport sees crowds that make the World Cup look small. As it turned out, the start itself wasn’t even in the top ten most interesting things about V-Day, and my view inside the commentary box four years ago was quite a bit better than being aboard a photo RIB shooting the 2016 start. It’s a start that barely matters at all for the race itself.
What I didn’t experience four years ago was the single most intense crowd moment our sport has; when each skipper comes ’round the corner, entering the famous LSD Canal to the roar of an estimated 200,000 fans lining the shores. Fortunately, my spot with the Boss photographer allowed me to be just a few meters away from this action, and the 18-minute video above is my attempt to get you as close as I could to the unique emotional surge unlocked by that final trip through the fairway.
I’ve been asked by many people whether the Vendee and IMOCA will ever really grip the attention of anyone outside of France and the niche yachting community, and I remind people that there’s plenty of precedent for it. When Mike Plant dominated solo racing (and indeed in the early days of the Open 60) the Vendee was international. When Ellen was one of the UK’s best-known athletes, the Vendee was international. And now that Alex Thomson has a real chance to win and with the help of Open Sports Management and the IMOCA Class, the Vendee is pulling in decent international numbers. But it’s all probably not enough to transform the event into a truly world-wide phenomenon, and that’s entirely because of the shortsightedness of the French organizers of the race itself.
You see, the non-French world just doesn’t matter much to the region of Vendee, or to the paymasters behind the communications strategy of the race, and where they do make an effort, it is specifically pointed at a UK audience. The English portion of the VG web work – mostly translated news stories and voiced videos – are a shadow of the French language content. The live dockout show and start were commentated by a fully English team. And the live call-in shows and ‘vacations’ are hosted by Andi Robertson, who, through no fault of his own, is basically impossible to understand for anyone South of the Midlands (including the sailors he talks to on the phone). Even the video distribution is distinctly French and distinctly annoying, with organizers always pushing views towards the awful DailyMotion over Youtube, Facebook, or Vimeo. We’re confident that the organizers don’t know any better – nor do they seem to care – and unless Thomson wins and sets up a massive cross-channel rivalry, or another Ellen or Mike Plant comes along, things will most likely continue along on their continually growing, largely Francophone path. Why change now?
The biggest wildcard for the internationalization of the Vendee Globe comes from outside the race, and we hear Mark Turner, the Keith Mills/OSM contingent, and a number of different designers and builders are hard at work to determine the feasibility of the ‘Joint Strike” foiling IMOCA/Volvo Ocean Race 68-foot concept for the 2019 Vendee/2020 VOR. With OSM getting somewhat lukewarm worldwide buy-in of the Ocean Masters Series concept since its inception, the combined power of OSM, Boss, and the Volvo could really tip the international balance of IMOCA racing. You won’t have to wait long to find out where that one’s going, and we’re on the edge of our seats along with everyone else who loves ocean racing.
Finally, I want to heartily recommend a trip to West France for anyone who loves sailing, and if you can go during a Vendee start or even one of the finishes, you’ll not be disappointed. There’s nothing even remotely like it.
Joseph deMaistre (no, not Thomas Jefferson) wrote “every nation gets the government it deserves” back in 1811, and little did I know when I scheduled my trip to Barcelona that I’d be struggling more with the ramifications of this quote at home than on the ground at the World Sailing AGM and election. I watched in shock at 6 AM in a tiny AirBnB apartment as the US Election results rolled in, and there was almost as much discussion of the Donald at the AGM as there was of Carlo Croce, Kim Andersen, and Paul Henderson, with the US attendees trying valiantly to assuage the fears and worries of the rest of the delegates. More on that below…
As many of you know, Sailing Anarchy led the world in coverage of the avalanche of ISAF’s public problems over the past four years, and we weren’t bashful in laying it all at the feet of the man in charge. Carlo Croce may not be a bad person and he undoubtedly loves the sport, but as a leader, he was an embodiment of the opaque, conflicted, unaccountable governance that invariably ends in major problems. We don’t need to go into the full list of ISAF’s planning, contracting, and communications fuckups over the past four years again, but when we learned that he had real challengers for his second term, we jumped at the opportunity to help them get the word out to the wider sailing community. And you know what? You guys helped send Croce back to Italy in defeat.
According to numerous sources amongst the delegates, the flood of calls, emails, and comments you sent to your National Governing Body and our continual shining of the spotlight of shame on World Sailing’s missteps in Rio and Russia helped to unseat an incumbent ISAF/WS/IYRU President for the first time in history. Strong public statements from the other candidates (most notably, in our two podcasts with them), a well-organized plan from the Danish challenger, and Croce’s complete unwillingness to engage anyone in public doomed the Italian, and when I hit the road for Amsterdam on the Monday morning, I left confident that World Sailing is headed in the right direction for the next four years, even if America is not.
As an ISAF AGM virgin, I found the conference quite effective compared to similar conferences I’ve attended in other disciplines. Sure, doing work in big committees as ISAF does is massively inefficient, but that’s how volunteer representative governance works. Much of the various committees’ time was spent on inane arguments and old men who like to hear themselves talk, but lots of business actually happened; handicap racing, offshore rules, media strategy, match racing, Olympic formats and equipment – all saw well-found presentations and solid progress towards more modern, transparent, and creative approaches to success.
The theme of the conference itself was a different story. Called “Our Sustainable Future,” it was a fairly brazen attempt to position sailboat racing as the ‘go-to sport’ for major corporations looking for a ‘green’ sports sponsorship partner. While we at SA believe environmental awareness and conservation to be inextricably tied to sailing, World Sailing’s attempt to do so was clumsy and hypocritical. Case in point: The final AGM was a busy affair, with hundreds of delegates and staff and hundreds more observers, and the first thing I noticed when stepping into the room was a booklet on every single seat that touted ‘sailors and nature’. It wasn’t an agenda or anything with important information in it, it was a big pile of trash masquerading as a promotional brochure. Another chunk of obvious bullshit came from a staff executive’s attempt to justify the only major ‘environmental’ sponsor of the entire World Sailing portfolio – Gazprom – by explaining that even dirty companies need a green sports partner.
Call us crazy, but to us, allying our ‘clean’ sport with the single biggest polluter in the entire world and a company almost inseparable from Vladimir Putin and his international adventurism isn’t the best start to sustainability. It’s probably better to establish a reputation for environmental awareness and conservation and pick up some sponsors who are actually walking the walk before positioning World Sailing as an image-launderer for every coal, gas, and oil company in the world. Otherwise, we’re just whores. You can watch the full Sustainability Forum as recorded live here.
As an American, one of the most shocking exchanges of the week occurred before the delegates voted on the next two years of AGM venues; the 2017 meeting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and the following year in Sarasota. Florida. I’ll direct you to the starting point of the actual discussion as filmed live by World Sailing TV here (it goes on for about 20 minutes), and for those of you with short attention spans, consider this: In just a few days, the world went from a place where the USA was safe and prosperous and Mexico a dangerous, drug-ridden cartel state to exactly the opposite: Nearly a third of the delegates chose not to support a meeting in America, while just 6 delegates voted against Mexico.
For all its faults, World Sailing TV did a real service to the world’s sailors by live streaming much of the conference to the world. Nearly no one watched them, but it’s early days and we think the precedent was well worth it. You can check out all the WS live streams here.
The Show of Shows
Compared to the first two stops, the Marine Equipment Trade Show was far less important and far more fun. For one, it’s in Amsterdam, which never sucks. For another, it’s the single most important show for the sport, and hundreds of friends were there to laugh, drink, and carouse with. It was an uplifting show as well – the industry is pumping right now, and even if most of the really interesting innovations are targeted squarely at the big dollars super- and megayacht markets, at least there’s money to keep our favorite companies going. In any event, anyone involved in the business of sailing – even small companies – really should add the METS to their calendar over any other show. There’s just nowhere in the world where you can connect with more people inside every aspect of sailing than here.
After the number of updates I did in Amsterdam there is little need to recap the full show; if you love the sport and innovations, you’ll probably already have watched the videos (all streamed live from the floor of the RAI with one from Holland Composites). If not, I encourage you to head over to the SA Facebook page and have a look at our overall Best In Show, one of the biggest safety innovations we’ve seen in a while from a brilliant 20-something year old kid, and about a dozen more really interesting product videos from the show floor.
And don’t forget the Sailing Anarchy Podcast.
December 10th, 2016 by admin
The MUSTO + Torqeedo “Cleanin’ Up Europe” report moves from sunny Barcelona to grey, misty Amsterdam, but not before a short chat with the newly elected World Sailing President Kim Andersen from Denmark. Andersen took the top spot in the sport away from an incumbent for the first time in the history of the organization, though considering the litany of missteps from the previous board, it’s not a huge surprise. The Dane’s mantra has been about transparency, equality, and the growth of sailing – not just the growth of Olympic Sailing and revenue streams.
We’ll have plenty more on the interesting developments that came out of the 2016 World Sailing Conference, and trust us – despite the general, all-talk/no-action nature of conferences, plenty of shit went down and plenty of it was good. In the meantime, we’ll be using Facebook Live for the next two days to bring you the latest and greatest kit from the METS show in dreary Holland. Keep an eye on the page as interviews and product spotlights pop up in our video feed.
Big congrats to Torqeedo for winning their second DAME award in four years! And a big thanks to them and MUSTO for presenting all of our Vendee, ISAF World Council, and METS coverage this month. Also thanks to Ocean Planet Energy and Doyle Sails NZ for their support of our coverage.
November 16th, 2016 by admin
The World Sailing (ISAF) Annual Conference wraps up today, with the all-important Presidential and vice-presidential election scheduled for some time around lunch. We’ll have an article summarizing the conference when it’s all over, and you can watch it all unfold yourself during the General Assembly meeting, streaming above.
For Clean’s final take on the whole thing, watch the Facebook Live chat he did this morning. Candidate Paul “Pope” Henderson’s final pre-election update is here. Danish candidate Kim Andersen’s last talk with us is here.
Incumbent President Carlo Croce doesn’t do communication.
November 13th, 2016 by admin
While the world mopes around in a Trumped-up daze, we remind you that there’s another election coming up on Sunday – one you can do something about. Our 2016 World Sailing Annual Conference coverage ain’t worth a shit if you guys don’t care about the sport’s future. We’re here to provide you with on-the-ground info so you can engage with the executives in your MNA and advocate that they do what’s good for the sport – not what’s good for them, and while we’ll get into more about what’s actually happening at this conference in a few days, governance is what matters right now.
Every MNA has reps on the ground – for our US readers, both USS Exec. Dir. Jack Gierhardt and Pres. Bruce Burton are here. If you don’t know how they are going to vote, get in touch with them and find out. Just two more days to go, and if your representatives haven’t listened to challenger Kim Andersen or Paul Henderson’s podcasts on governance and the future of ISAF, they are not doing their jobs. Listen yourself, and in case you’ve forgotten just why we are so down on Carlo Croce, here’s a (partial) list of what happened on his watch:
1) Malaysia discriminates against Jewish children at ISAF Youth Worlds (known issue from 2011, nothing done until outrage peaks)/Oman discriminates against Israeli windsurfers/Abu Dhabi discriminates against Israeli sailors
2) Millions spent defending multiple litigation for human rights and employment violations (America’s Cup)
3) Third “Disciplinary Code” in three years (thanks to litigation and arbitration)
4) Third CEO in two years
5) Complete mishandling of Rio disease/filth publicity and media shitstorm
6) First ‘sustainability partner’ named as Gazprom, 3-year blackout on all information regarding millions in sponsorship income (until a week ago)
7) ISAF claims control over kiteboarding and starts war with IFKO (against backdrop of russian mob connection allegations)
8) Sailing World Cup fails to attract audience for four straight years
9) Sailing booted from the Paralympics
10) kiteboarding added to Olympics, then removed from Olympics days later.
11) President’s conflicts of interests (Italian sailing federation president, yacht club president) create appearance of impropriety
Both challengers for the World Sailing presidency provided long, honest interviews with us (see links above) about their plans for the future of the governing body of the sport, but current President Carlo Croce didn’t even bother to respond to our request for an interview; in fact, Croce has never answered questions from the media or sat for a press conference other than some bullshit prepared statements read over a video conference call and a few photo opps. The World Sailing President is so terrified of speaking that even after listening to both podcasts, he couldn’t bring himself to do it; instead, he prepared a detailed document to address some of the issues brought up by the other nominees, firing it off to all the MNAs and calling the other two candidates liars while lamenting the “misinformation perpetuated by certain individuals and the media.”
Croce also promises that he sets “the highest standards of transparency and integrity in the way that we operate as an International Federation”, never even recognizing the irony that only now – at the end of his four year term and with his feet to the fire – does he address the Gazprom money and the IKA/IFKO mess that we, and numerous other interested parties – have been asking about for years. “Highest standards,” indeed.
The document itself is worth reading as a lesson in selective denial, but we note how sneaky some of it is; in response to claims from many parties that World Sailing has had for several years a secret ‘slush fund’ for corporate money in Switzerland, Croce writes that it doesn’t even exist. “The process to establish the Swiss Foundation commenced in April 2016. The Foundation is still not formally established (20/10/16) as it has not yet been approved by the Survey for International Foundations in Switzerland. Until that authorisation is issued the foundation does not yet exist. So according to Croce, it takes more than half a year to set up a charitable foundation in Switzerland…never mind that we’ve seen an email from W. Scott Perry back in September (one of the directors of ISAF and the guy who made the Gazprom deal) where he wrote “The Swiss Foundation which was established at the behest of Gazprom has 6 directors…none of them are paid in any way. I am one of those directors.” Integrity, indeed (and for more on this issue, see the Associated Press story here).
So is it a slush fund? Croce says that the “purpose of the Foundation is to raise funds from corporate donors to support the development of sailing” but assures us that “there is no formal relationship and none is planned between WS and the Foundation”. So who will be on the board of the new Foundation? Out of 7 directors, 5 are currently vice presidents or presidents of World Sailing. No formal relationship, indeed.
But at least there’s no sketchy Gazprom control of these slush funds, right? Nope. “There is no relationship between the Foundation and Gazprom other than a former Executive of Gazprom (Valery Gulev) is one of the Directors of the Foundation.” Transparency, indeed.
He even tries to address concerns that Gazprom’s connection to World Sailing may harm some of the many relationships between sailing and truly ‘green’ companies with this posed question on Page 7: “What are the Gazprom marketing rights?” One problem: the document contains no answer to this question. Transparent? Definitely not. Competent?
Read the full Croce document here.
- Tags: andersen, Carlo Croce, election, gazprom, henderson, IFKO, IKA, ISAF, president, world sailing
November 10th, 2016 by admin
Easily one of the most influential people in all of sailing over the past decade and a half, Mark Turner has done it all. A naval officer turned Mini racer, Turner jumped into the management side of yacht racing with his wildly successful running of Ellen Macarthur’s campaigns – and he’s never looked back. The creator of modern “Stadium Sailing” and innovator of sailing events in dozens of countries, Mark moves into the top spot in the world’s most widely followed ocean race against a fast-changing landscape in boat technology and event marketing, and he shared a full 1h40 with Mr. Clean at the Vendee Globe this past Friday to talk about it.
The boys got into some of the most important issues touching sailing, and Turner’s characteristic bluntness is refreshing as hell. Wanna get into the groundbreaking new rules to integrate more women into the VOR? we got that. Or the deadline for the decision on the next Volvo Ocean Race boat and the possible boat choices? It’s in that chat. Or maybe you’re looking for info on the $1M refit of the existing VO65s or the new AIS rules and incentives to pull a flier? Click “PLAY”. Want to know exactly what’s wrong with ISAF and why Turner leaked an internal marketing document a few weeks back? Listen. What about emerging nations, the loss of Abu Dhabi as a sponsor, and how the recent Omani and Chinese offshore tragedies have effected those new sailing countries? Give us an hour and forty. And like all conversations with Mark, if you want to understand more about the commercial end of event and sponsor management, this guy knows it ALL.
Enjoy, and a big thanks to MUSTO and Torqeedo for presenting all of our Vendee, ISAF World Council, and METS coverage this month. Also thanks to Bruce Schwab and Ocean Planet Energy for their support of our coverage.
- Tags: carbon, extreme, imoca, ISAF, M32, mark turner, podcast, Vendee Globe, volvo ocean race, world sailing
November 5th, 2016 by admin
After the EU issued its potentially groundbreaking opinion on the anti-competitive nature of certain sporting rules last month we knew there’d be a shakeup, and the first shots have just been fired across ISAF World Sailing’s bows. The International Federation of Kitesports Organizations sent this letter to World Sailing, putting them on notice that their attempted monopolization of kiteboarding shouldn’t stand. With World Sailing’s AGM coming up next week and the all-important election to see if current President Carlo Croce will be allowed to continue his reign, this bombshell puts even more pressure on the MNA members to get with the times and elect someone who understands the ‘good ol’ boys’ days are over. Here’s the letter:
This Warning Letter is to inform WS that if it does not refrain from taking any decisions or voting concerning the Sport Kitesurfing/Kiteboarding on water at the next WS AGM in November/Barcelona and act in order to maintain the Kiteboarding status quo, we will unfortunately have to apply for a court order to ensure and preserve the IFKO governance rights on Kitesurfing/Kiteboarding on water sport.
This written warning is issued because, at first sight, WS has no legitimacy to govern the Sport of Kiteboarding on water (commonly known as Kitesurfing) demonstrated in the following evidences: a) WS by Constitution, denomination and aims is the governing body of the sport Sailing; b) IFKO is the only international federation in the world with the denomination, nature, object and objectives by constitution as governing body of all Kitesports; c) WS recognises “IKA” as the “class association” however there is no evidence or transparent proof of the existence of the legal registration of this entity as an “association” with this denomination since 2008.
Your failure to refrain from taking any decisions or voting concerning the Sport Kitesurfing/Kiteboarding on water at next WS AGM in November/Barcelona negatively impacts IFKO work and authority as governing body of the sport Kitesurfing. It demonstrates the intention of duplication of governance already taken by IFKO, disrespects the legal object and objectives of IFKO and directly damages the proper world organisation of the Kitesurfing sport.
This WS intention of usurpation of IFKO governance rights on Kitesurfing sport problem is not the first time. You have been informed and warned on four other occasions (by letter: 07/01/2016, 10/02/2016, 18/03/2016, 14/10/2016) to respect the IFKO existence, nature, object and objectives.
IFKO, as it is under SportAccord Membership application procedure, asked SportAccord and AIMS to set up and mediate a meeting between IFKO and WS Delegations which had a positive answer. We hope you will promptly accept the meeting request in a good will to achieve understanding in this “rivalry issue” on the Kitesurfing governance in good faith and reasonable grounds.
November 3rd, 2016 by admin
The second of three candidates for World Sailing President sat down with us on Friday to explain why he is running for the sport’s top position, and he seems like as solid a choice as anyone. An engineer and executive who perhaps lacks some of the fire of Henderson (and if you missed that podcast, it’s worth a listen), Kim Andersen is as Danish as they come despite having spend many years living in Australia and Germany. The longtime Olympic class and now Dragon sailor wants fairness, equality, transparency and solid management for the sport he loves, and he’s got sensible plans on how to repair the damage done to the sport over the past few years.
Both Andersen and Henderson have a mountain to climb; no incumbent has ever been beaten for the ISAF/IYRU/World Sailing presidency, and Carlo Croce has very powerful friends: As the Commodore of the most powerful Yacht Club in Italy and the President of Italy’s MNA, Croce has the ability to influence the voting MNA’s in many ways not subject to public scrutiny
If Croce doesn’t win after the first ballot (the winning candidate must get >50% to win), things get interesting and the horse trading really begins; either Henderson or Andersen will get axed, throwing their support to the other, with the final two candidates taking whatever time they have to drum up support for their bid. They’re technically not allowed to promise anyone positions, posts, jobs, events, etc in exchange for their vote, but from what we’ve heard, it happens every election.
We gave current President Carlo Croce over a week to respond to our requests for the final interview to round out this series, but other than being told the message was passed on to him, we’ve heard precisely nothing. We’re not saying that Croce has anything to hide, but two of the three candidates have chosen to air their platforms and answer all our questions in a very open manner, and if transparency in our sport is important to you and your countrymen and you care about the future of our sport, get in touch with the president or director of your MNA and let them know what you think. Perhaps more importantly in a long game like this, make sure you are ready to vote your national MNA bosses out at their next election if they make it clear they don’t care.
October 17th, 2016 by admin
It must suck to win an Olympic gold medal in your fifties and find out you’re not even ranked in the the top ten in your class! This screenshot comes from Santiago Lange’s current, official World Sailing Rankings for the Nacra 17 – apparently, the Princess Sofia is worth 100 points, but the Olympics is worth nothing at all. Unless it’s yet another in the endless parade of World Sailing fuckups?
Title shout to the Chocolate Factory and to the late, great Gene Wilder.
October 14th, 2016 by admin
Spurred on by sailors around the world to help save sailing from itself, the former 10-year president of ISAF has thrown his hat back into the ring to become President of World Sailing during the November election in Barcelona. A two-time Olympic sailor himself, Paul “The Pope” Henderson has strong, clear ideas about where ISAF needs to go in order to regain its reputation, its value, and its relevance to the sport. Paul and Clean go deep in the first of our special World Sailing election coverage; an hour and a half of stories and discussion from Henderson’s experiences over a long lifetime inside the sport; from the infamous 1972 Munich Olympics to his quest to uncover what’s really been going on at ISAF for the past few years to the origin of his nickname, the man is a natural storyteller and he deftly makes his case for where sailing has gone wrong and where it needs to go for the future. He also drops a few bombs, so don’t miss it.
Learn who’s running for the ISAF election here, and click this map to find out who to call in your own National Governing Body to ask who they’re voting for in November. Check back here on the Front Page for our second presidential candidate’s interview coming this weekend after we speak to Denmark’s Kim Andersen. Subscribe to the SA Podcast here.
October 13th, 2016 by admin
Despite the title, we’re not talking about the most entertaining and frightening US presidential election ever (and the first-ever time any presidential candidate said “Grab them by the pussy”). For the sport of sailing, there’s a much more important election coming up in less than a month. While you probably don’t get to vote for it, your MNA does, so give them a call or drop them an email and let them know what you, their member, thinks of whatever position they hold.
We’re doing our part to find out whether any of the three presidential candidates has a real plan to fix the dismal position ISAF finds itself in after years of bizarre and opaque decisions and increasingly centralized power, and that means you have a chance to make your thoughts known, too. So get over to the World Sailing Strategic Positioning thread and add your questions for candidates Kim Andersen, Paul Henderson, and Carlo Croce, and we’ll put those questions to them when we interview them this week. The first interview is Monday and Andersen and Henderson have already agreed to talk to us over Skype; whether or not we get Croce aboard, we’ll publish it all next Monday in another SA Podcast.
October 9th, 2016 by admin