Sailing’s Governing Council

Sailing has always been an intriguing sport that arouses both the sailor and especially the audiences. Whether it’s in the form of yacht racing, dinghy racing, boat racing and kite surfing; the sport still keeps audiences in awe of what the sailors do with their boats. Like every other sport, international sailing is governed by the International Sailing federation (ISAF) which is purely recognized by the International Olympic Committee.

The ISAF which was formed in 1907 generally promotes the interests of the sport and represents members of the sport where necessary, they also engage in the licensing and controlling of sailing championship worldwide using a purely democratic executive committee of leaders from around the world. The ISAF council is made up of an executive committee of the President, Seven Vice Presidents and democratically nominated 28 representatives from regional groups in the Member National Authorities (MNA). The Executive council serves for fours years and then elections are conducted for new leaders.

The ISAF constitutes Affiliates, Continental sailing Associations, and National sailing Associations. Since sailing practically depends on the environment to fully function, the ISAF are charged with the task of defining and implementing rules to determine sailing competitions around the world that would not cause any damage to the environment. They also do this by creating awareness to their stakeholders about the rules of racing.

The Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) is used by the ISAF to govern the conduct of sailors around the world during Regatta’s. The RRS was composed of 91 rules until it was amended in 1997 to 15 major rules encompassing every professional sailor must know. These rules control how boats are driven in the water, principles of overlapping boats, rules of collision and entirely how to avoid them, boat interference during racing and then the RRS then proclaims sailboat racing as a self-regulated sport, though that really doesn’t mean you should sail your boats recklessly during racing competitions.

The ISAF are usually harsh with their rules as convicted sailors risk the penalty of retirement depending on how the rule was disobeyed, the option of retirement is usually considered by the Protest committee if the broken rule causes injury or damage that affects the entire competition. Like many other sports, the races are controlled with sound signals and changes in flags all financially governed by the ISAF though the federation basically consists of mostly volunteers from around the world.

The ISAF also give merit awards after competitions and give annual awards to deserving members and sailors in the federation. Some of the awards include the “ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award” which is currently held by James Spithill, Martine Grael, and Kahena Kunze. It is the most prestigious award a sailor can have and is awarded to male and female participants in the competition. Other awards include; The “ISAF Beppe Croce Trophy,” which is awarded to a member of the federation that has immensely contributed to its development. The “ISAF Hall of Fame” is used to award best sailors of all time in the competitions and the ISAF Gold and Silver medals for winners during competitions.

For more about ISAF, go here.