In Part 1, Kim discussed many of the changes within World Sailing and the decisions being made for the Olympics events. In Part 2, the conversation drifted toward the broadcast of the Olympic events, and this final segment focuses on a new strategy for the Olympic events during each quadrennial.
World Sailing launched the World Cup Series in 2008, but it has struggled to find its place in the schedule which has impacted participation. What is the future of the World Cup Series?
You are completely right, it hasn’t worked, so we will be discussing the new strategy at the Mid-Year Meeting. The event structure is one part and then the schedule of calendar is another part, and we want to mandate the schedule of calendar.
With all the events and classes, everybody agrees if we are not controlling the schedule of the calendar, with what is happening in the northern hemisphere, southern hemisphere, etc. then we’ll never get it right. That’s why this strategy plan going forward has the element of the structure and it has the element of the calendar, and the calendar is actually the leading part. If you don’t get the schedule right, you will never get the other part right.
The World Cup Series had good intentions in providing quality and consistency for competition, and for World Sailing to help heighten the profile of sailing, but the addition of events on top of the existing schedule did not work. Additionally, some of the events were not located well and were expensive to attend, which was not helpful to the nations and sailors.
So yes, World Sailing made some mistakes, which is why the World Cup Series did not succeed as intended.
The good news is we recognise this, and will use these lessons to move forward. The Event Strategy Working Party Report which is to be discussed at the Mid-Year Meeting, focuses not on World Sailing creating events, but rather World Sailing working with the existing critical events to develop a new event strategy for 2021-2028.
The one event we do want to hold on to is the World Cup Final to be held once a year, with the format to replicate the Olympics, and ideally at or near the upcoming Olympic venue. The intent is to give great value to national teams and create interest in sailing leading to the Games.
By doing this strategy we can be supportive yet focus on the requirements for sailors while adding value for all World Sailing stakeholders. By coordinating a smarter schedule we can build participation in the sport, develop universality, and promote the world’s top sailors while setting standards for broadcasting, media, tracking, and technology services.
These events are not inexpensive to host, and too often we have been inventing a new event and inserting it into a calendar which hasn’t got a place for this new event, which then cannibalises other events. Then we bring in our media support, which is the most expensive element, and because we haven’t maximised participation, we fail to fully promote our athletes.
So the goal is to have an event schedule that works for everybody. It is not a simple issue when you have so many nations around the world, and one design class organisations that have their own regions of activity, but we have to synchronise it to maximise the opportunity that sailing has in being an Olympic sport.