Wednesday, July 20, 2005

New ISAF Pres Goran States Populist Mission

I'm taking a break midweek from Newport Bucket narrative to discuss this Sailing World interview with the new ISAF (International Sailing Federation) president, Goran Petersson, of Sweden. Goran took over from former president Paul Henderson in the fall of 2004. Paul had been president for 10 years and, according to the article, his leadership was characterized by aggressive use of the media on sailing issues. In contrast, Goran has been much quieter and so Sailing World went knocking at his door. The resulting Q&A is, in my humble opinion, heartening in that the man is ocused on the most essential issue of all, increasing grass roots participation in sailing. It may seem strange to write about participation opposite a post about my day aboard a multi-million $$ mega sailing yacht in Newport…but rich people will always have their toys and while it’s fun to have a chance to play on one of them, the reality is that a sport where only the wealthy can participate is not much fun at all. Take a look at polo for a real life example. The future of sailing depends on making the sport accessible, enjoyable and generally welcoming to as broad a segment as possible – including a generation of youths coming of age in a world overflowing with distraction.

"The biggest challenge to our sport is participation. We are not only in competition with all other sports, but also with a lot of other activities. We have to make the sport attractive to young people—and older people—and we have to make it accessible, affordable, and exciting." - Goran Petersson

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