International Radio Sailing

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The ISAF-RSD and the IOM class are facing a period of significant change as ISAF has asked the RSD to propose how radio sailing could be fully integrated in the ISAF structure like other disciplines of sailing.  I thought it might be useful to have some notes on what is at stake.  RSD has just published its consultative document on its Web site.  Let your DM have your comments.

ISAF controls sailing on this planet.  Not every sailing organisation is affiliated to ISAF, or follows its model, of course.  The prime example in radio sailing is the Naviga organisation, based in Austria, and with a significant presence in Europe, eastern Europe particularly.

The first and most important question facing the IOM class association and the Division Members of RSD is what the future of international radio sailing might look like.  There are two options:  continue under the ISAF umbrella, or go independent again.  The ISAF umbrella provides a number of benefits which, to a greater or lesser degree, would be lost if radio sailing went its independent way.  The Racing Rules of Sailing come immediately to mind, followed by authorisation to hold World  championships.  If the IOM class stays under the ISAF umbrella, it is authorised to call itself "International", it can have "World Champions", it can use the IOM Class Rules, it can race according to Appendix E of the RRS, and so on.  If the IOM class beaks away from ISAF, none of these things are available to it.

Under the ISAF umbrella, competitive sailing involves two major components -- rules, guidelines, support, and training for race management and administration, and rules for the equipment used, the boats.  Currently both components are handled for International radio sailing by the RSD, and so the second question is how they should be handled in the future.  This split between race management on the one hand and classes on the other is a very significant one.  It goes some way to explaining why the current structure of RSD is not ideal to represent classes and their owners, since it is oriented towards the "other side", the side of international radio sailing management.

We might expect that the rules, guidelines, support, and training for international race management and administration are handled within ISAF itself, presumably involving persons experienced in radio sailing and its international dimension, while the rules for the International classes are handled by Class Associations, in our case the IOM ICA.

ISAF is currently probably not prepared to set up an International Radio Sailing Committee since it in fact wishes to actually reduce its existing committees in number as they have become very costly to administer and support.  It is therefore likely that radio sailing equipment issues would be assigned to one of the existing boat committees - for example the keelboat committee - while the RRS Appendix E issues would be handled by the Racing Rules Committee.  ISAF would then ensure that these two committees, plus other committees which would deal with radio sailing issues, would have members with specialist knowledge about radio sailing.

There are other options at the International level.   If the ISAF route is chosen all ISAF radio sailing classes have to be administrated by ICAs. A possibility is that the ISAF-RSD could become a multi-class association that would look after some or all of the existing radio sailing classes.

The third question is what happens at national level.  On the classes side, given that there will be international class associations for individual classes, or an international multi-class association, it is natural to imagine that national class association(s) will look after class issues at national level.  DMs could become multi-class associations affiliated to their MNA, or they could become a section, group, or committee within their MNA.  These possible configurations already exist in current DMs.  More significantly, DMs will probably have to re-organise themselves over time in order to separate these two roles, with part of the DM affiliating or joining their MNA, and part affiliating with the ICA for the classes it wished to represent as a NCA.

On the race management side, the diagram illustrates the possibility that the existing national authority for sailing authorises a "radio sailing committee" or similar to look after national management of radio sailing.  All of the RSD Division Members are already so authorised, and presumably this arrangement would continue.  A potential difficulty with a DM which also acts as the IOM national class association can be accommodated during a transitional period if it is recognised by the IOM ICA as the equivalent of the IOM NCA.

This is the emerging overall picture, annotated with the major tasks and responsibilities for each body.


2011 Lester Gilbert