PtG Article 07.05.2019

World sailing set for governance reforms

World Sailing has laid forward a proposal for a root-and-branch governance reform of the federation that includes simplifying decision-making processes, making more room for athlete voices and securing more independence for enforcement committees.

After more than a year of discussion and consultation, World Sailing’s Governance Commission has prepared and presented its proposal for a ‘wholesale governance reform’ of the international sailing body.

The detailed proposal includes notable changes within a number of structural areas in the federation and if approved, the proposal is meant to simplify decision-making in the federation and make processes more transparent as well as increase the engagement ant and participation of members.

The proposed reforms will also improve gender balance on the boards and heighten sailors’ voices and presence in the decision-making. Efforts to secure the independence of those committees charged with enforcing sanctions is also among the reform proposals.

The reform is considered a step in the move to modernise and grow the sport, says World Sailing’s president, Kim Andersen, in a press release.

"There are many aspects of our current structure that are impeding our ability to realise our vision and to grow the sport. If we are to deliver our vision, we need to refresh the foundations of World Sailing. To make better decisions for our future, we need strong and robust foundations in our governance structures and decision-making processes,” Andersen says.

He also acknowledges that expectations and pressure, both from in- and outside sport, have played a part in the federations’ efforts to embark on the reform process.

"As a member of the wider global sports movement, there are also increasing expectations from our key stakeholders to maintain high standards of governance, integrity and conduct - including the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee, partners, suppliers and governments. We must refresh our foundations and implement measures to live up to these expectations.”

The Governance Commission is independently headed by Maria Clarke, a sports lawyer, who says that the current proposal has been developed through thorough consultation with sailing stakeholders, and the result is a product meant to be further discussed.

"This Proposal is not for voting on at this time but is documented to enable further discussion, feedback and deliberations. It contains the principles and concepts which the Governance Commission and the Board consider will best achieve the objectives of the reform,” Clarke says. "No proposal will be acceptable to everyone. However, it is a starting point from which World Sailing can evolve and develop into the future."

Next step in the process is to review feedback on the current proposal and elaborate it into a final recommendation. The World Sailing Board will then assess it and if approved it will form the basis of a new constitution which could be up for vote at the federation’s General Meeting in November this year.

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