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Scuttlebutt News:

Helping to explain the ISAF Council Olympic equipment vote

Dina Kowalyshyn
(November 20, 2008) Since 1999, American Dina Kowalyshyn has been assisting on committees for the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). Leading into the recently held ISAF Annual Meeting, which was determining the direction for the 2012 Olympics, Dina held a seat on the Equipment Committee, was the Chairman of the Women’s High Performance Evaluation Trials held in the Spring of 2007, and was appointed to the Women’s Match Racing Working Party. Her involvement helped shape the direction of the Women’s Olympic Two Person Dinghy and Match Racing events for 2012 (and beyond), and her comments shed some light on the process:

  • On why ISAF Committee appointment is worth the effort, even if the decisions do not all go your way:

  • Twice during the week I was ready to walk out and never return, and twice I was asked sincerely by US SAILING representatives to stay the course. It is extremely hard to sit through these debates, but if you do not, who will take your place? It has taken me nine years to get to a place where I can be effective at this level, internationally. It is really hard for people to understand the whole of ISAF when all they see is the voting results…just like government. So, you ask me why I am happy to be put forward by my country to work on ISAF committees. Because I think by being there I am making the situation better for women’s sailing in the US and in the world, regardless of the political maneuverings at ISAF. I was 50-50 this past meeting…not really that bad.

  • On how the ISAF Council disregards committee recommendations:

  • Countries (referred to as a Member National Authority or MNA) are represented on Council and their perspective is different than those of the committees. Many members of committees are put there for their expertise in that one area and often times their recommendations is topic driven, like the Equipment Committee backing the skiff by a large margin, but the Events Committee and the Women’s Committee votes on the subject were much closer, even though the skiff prevailed. In the past two years we have seen where very close votes in the expert committees have been overturned at Council by these different points of view. The 470/skiff vote was 19 to 16 at Council. The take away is that more work is needed but that its time is coming.

  • On the ISAF Council’s choice of the 470 over the 29er XX for Women’s 2012 Olympic Two Person Dinghy:

  • I think the vote to keep the 470 for the Women’s 2012 Olympic Two Person Dinghy shows that the development of women’s sailing worldwide was not ready for advancement. The US is ready, and so are countries like Denmark, Great Britain, and Canada. But many other nations could not continue to grow their women’s sailing without mirroring their men’s programs in the 470. And, many were just not in a position to walk away from their investments and planning since the high performance event was not selected in 2007.

  • On the International Support of the 29er XX for Women’s 2012 Olympic Two Person Dinghy:

  • I was excited that US SAILING endorsed the skiff and to see the skiff get as far as it did with the international community. The funding to continue skiff trials should come soon and the manufacturers of high performance small boats should be on notice that ISAF may be moving in this direction. Having equipment that is in the marketplace is a big decision point for ISAF and the manufacturer’s need to advance their products in the next 4 years to be positioned for selection. The only group who advanced from spring 2007 was the 29er XX, and that was part of the problem for selection. It is the only skiff being marketed directly to female sailors.

  • On the ISAF Council’s choice of the Elliott 6m for women’s match racing at the 2012 Olympics:

  • Women sailors were at great risk of match racing the Yngling, further reducing the number of US female sailors willing to sail at the Olympic level. Now, with the Elliott 6m, they have a boat that will be fun to sail, hard to sail well over the entire wind range for match racing. And, it is a boat that clubs can “USE” for youth keelboat training and match race development. Look at what the New Zealanders and Australians, who are coming through their country’s programs sailing this boat, are doing in the world of professional match racing and sailing! Here is an opportunity for clubs around the world to move their youth forward. I am trying to expand our US Junior Sailing to include more keelboat sailing. We have been doing this in Annapolis with the Chessie Junior Racing program using two J/105’s. Now, I hope to get a small fleet of Elliott’s…

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