‘New era’ for World Sailing after reform proposal approved

Large group of people raising hands and arms, cheering in celebration.

World Sailing has voted overwhelmingly, with a 93.85 per cent majority, to approve changes to its governance structure and modernise its constitution.

These changes are designed to enable the federation to be more efficient and increase transparency in line with the requirements of a modern global sporting body.

The vote to pass a new constitution and governance proposals, which was held at the AGM during the 2022 World Sailing Annual Conference in Abu Dhabi (22-29 October 2022), exceeded the 75 per cent required.

World Sailing’s board, council and committees will now begin the process of changing the structure and processes and establishing the additional elements stipulated in the new constitution. The changes will be fully implemented from the 2024 AGM.

“This is a decision which has united the World Sailing family and marks an important step in our journey,” says World Sailing president Quanhai Li. “I am very pleased that we have seized this opportunity to modernise the sport’s decision-making. As we have grown, and will continue to grow, we require a structure that is designed with the future in mind.

“I am grateful to the tireless efforts of the board, executive office and board governance sub-committee, chaired by World Sailing vice-president Philip Baum, and to the member national authorities for trusting us to lead the sport into a new era.”

Baum adds: “The new structure promotes collaboration and supports the richness of discussion by bringing more voices into the process at an early stage. We now have two years to prepare for integration and deliver the new structure. During this time, we will continue to listen and adapt to the needs of our members and ensure there is the flexibility required to be successful. This decision is a vote of confidence for our growing way of working together and our increasing capacity to collaborate for the benefit of the sport.”

“These changes will enable us to deliver a better service for our members, building on excellent work in the last two years to strengthen trust between World Sailing and our stakeholders inside and outside of the sport. The result of 93.8 per cent speaks volumes,” David Graham, World Sailing chief executive officer, concludes.

These are the changes, approved by the 2022 World Sailing Annual General Meeting, which will be fully implemented from the 2024 AGM:

  • General assembly
    The general assembly will meet once a year. It is the annual general meeting of the company, and it will continue to have the powers set out in the constitution and under Isle of Man law, as amended by the new proposals.
  • Council
    Council will be responsible for relevant decisions arising from the new submissions process and deciding World Sailing policy. It is expected to meet up to four times a year, at a minimum once in person. There will be an emphasis on council debating and deciding policy to give effect to World Sailing’s strategy.
  • Board
    The board will continue in a non-executive capacity providing oversight and monitoring of World Sailing activities, especially that of management. It will continue to comprise nine directors, including the president, seven elected directors and the chair of the Athletes’ Commission. There will be gender equality among the elected directors: the president will be elected first, and then the seven directors will be selected in a manner ensuring gender equality.
  • Chief executive officer
    The chief executive officer leads the staff and executive management team of World Sailing. The relationship between the chief executive officer and the board is governed by the Board Charter. The board may delegate its authority to make certain operational/management decisions to the chief executive officer and, through the CEO, to the staff.
  • Growth and Development Committee
    It is intended that an enhanced Regional Development Committee suitably resourced will focus on the growth of the sport across the globe but especially in emerging nations.
  • Specialist Sailing Committee
    A new Specialist Sailing Committee will promote greater co-operation between the sport’s major events (including World Sailing Special Events) such as the America’s Cup, SailGP, SSL Gold Cup, and other forms of top-level sailing. The group will provide expert input into the development of World Sailing’s strategy, particularly with regards to the promotion of the sport, as well as advise council on non-Olympic top-level events.
  • Committees and working groups
    All existing committees, sub-committees and commissions will be carried over into the new structure, albeit with a change of name and broadening of remit in some cases.
  • Integrity and disciplinary
    All existing committees, sub-committees and commissions will be carried over into the new structure, albeit with a change of name and broadening of remit in some cases.

Visit the World Sailing website for information on the background of World Sailing’s Governance Reform.

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