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IOD Class Wins World Sailing Acceptance

posted Jan 30, 2017, 7:33 AM by IOD-WCA Webmaster   [ updated May 22, 2017, 8:51 AM ]
At the 2016 Annual Conference of World Sailing in Barcelona, a 39-0 vote of the Board sealed the re-acceptance of the IOD Class at World Sailing.

As many of you know, the International Class, celebrates 80 years of continuous active boat racing in 2017 and predates World Sailing by many years, World Sailing being the successor to International Sailing Federation (ISAF), itself the successor the International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU). In any event, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, ISAF began to try to control the moniker “World Championships”. Today, there are about 150 different sailing World Champions. The sailing fraternity has been criticized for this explosion of superiority, as it seems like overkill when one considers baseball has only one per year and football (not American Football) has one every 4 years.

When confronted with the possibility of sanctions against IOD sailors who competed in our Worlds and then aimed for the Olympics, the class leaders worked with Star sailor and ISAF Board member Ding Schoonmaker who succeeded in persuading ISAF to grant the IOD status as a ‘Classic Class’. As such, we could host a World Championship as we have nearly every year since 1959 without fear of reprisals. This lasted until about 2013 when ISAF changes the rules, eliminated the Classic Classes and demanded adherence to stringent requirements on numbers of boats sailing in a Worlds that the IOD Class could not meet on a regular basis. There were other issues in the IOD-ISAF relationship and it was determined to part company.

Two years later discussions began with World Sailing VP Gary Jobson who sails IODs regularly. Gary said he believed that the IOD should have the honor and status of World Sailing membership and agreed to help us succeed if we thought it could work for us. At Gary’s suggestion, we opened discussions with
Dina Kowalyshyn, Vice Chair of the World Sailing Equipment Committee. It is the Equipment Committee that must first vote favorably on any class application before the World Sailing Board can consider it for approval. With Dina, a small team discussed the application process, the requirement for membership, the benefits for glass growth of being recognized by World sailing, and a number of ways to comply with the World Sailing rules for classes. Several new strategies for complying with the minimum entries for a World Championship also came to light. As the Executive Committee learned more, it became clear that the benefits could outweigh the costs. We would have a better ability to grow and maintain the class as a member of World Sailing than as an outsider. In the spring of 2016 it was agreed to proceed with an application. The Formal Application is posted on the member only site for your reading pleasure: WS Application.

The filing of the application with World Sailing commenced several discussions about the numbers of active IOD Sailors around the world. With the strong efforts of Secretary Roy Weedon, the lists were compiled, notarized and submitted. While the WCA had historically focused on the fleets, there are many of our beautiful boats owned and sailed outside the scope of the registered fleets. Even our limited knowledge of these owners proved important in working with World Sailing. For example, members of the
Equipment Committee were advised if we knew of boats in their country even if there is not an organized fleet there. This gave them each a personal reason to support the IOD sailors in their country by supporting our application.

Dina strongly suggested that an officer of the WCA travel to the World Sailing Annual Conference to support and defend our application. President Rugg agreed to take on this responsibility at no cost to the class, and attended the conference in Barcelona in November 2016. At the conference, a subcommittee of the class rules committee reviewed our class rules. Fortunately, two of the 3 members of the sub-committee were known to the President from other sailing organization activities and met with the President to discuss certain changes that would clarify the rules and make them better fit the World Sailing class rules template. These changes were discussed with our technical committee chairman and the President was able to confirm agreement to the scope of changes at the conference.

The process for the US Delegation to the conference was instructive. Two conference calls were held prior to the start of the meeting, and the members of the US delegation met early each morning to discuss the overall US strategy for the conference, each individual delegates objectives, and progress on a day-to-day basis. This process provided a large group of lobbyists who worked the halls and committee rooms to support our application. The President was also able to support several objectives of other delegates.

At the formal meeting of the Equipment Committee, the President presented a short review of the application and how the IOD Class and World Sailing could have a mutually beneficial association. The Equipment Committee was impressed with our superlative management of the transition from wood to fiberglass that has prevented obsolescence or lack of competitiveness of our elder boats. They also found our championship events with host club provided boats an important way to engage more sailors in higher-level international competition at an affordable cost. Several members of the committee spoke about their personal knowledge and respect for our class, including Kim Anderson, then Chairman of the Equipment Committee and now the newly elected President of World Sailing.

At the end of the conference, the World Sailing Board met for two days to vote on a very long list of submissions for changes to sailing administration, rules and regulations, including the re-election of Gary Jobson as Vice President of World Sailing. This was an important issue for the US delegation. The final vote on the IOD Class application approved unanimously.

Going forward we will have a partner in World Sailing in keeping our constitution and rules up to date with best practices. The IODWAC will be better able to support each of our fleets with the underpinning of rules that promote fairness at both the fleet level and at our championships and other events. Based on our World Sailing status, we can now better support our builders and the IODs owners that are in locations distant from a recognized fleet. We will have a responsibility to work with World Sailing as a partner, and to maintain communications on changes and updates to our constitution and rules. We will also report the attendance and other information on our World Championships, and work with World Sailing to assist every fleet in hosting world class events.

Jan 2017