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A Short History of World Sailing

The world governing body for the sport of sailing was created in Paris in October 1907. It was initially called the International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU) before the name was changed to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) on 5 August 1996. And later to World Sailing in 2015.

The IYRU evolved from the need for racing sailors to have a uniform set of rules and measurement standards Before 1870 individual yacht clubs developed their own set of racing rules of which each was the sole arbiter in interpreting and applying them. While the popularity of racing against other clubs grew so did the confusion and frustration on the race course.

In Britain, there were several attempts to develop a uniform set of rules and the first meeting to develop such rules was the 'Yachting Congress' organised by the Royal Victoria Yacht Club on 1 June 1868. This congress was attended by 23 representatives from 14 clubs. Under the guidance of Captain Mackinnon, a sub-committee of the congress compiled a pamphlet of the existing rules on all the yacht clubs.

The Congress met again on 4 March 1869 when a draft of the racing rules were examined and adopted. However, when published in the yachting press it met with severe criticism and was abandoned.

A number of associations were subsequently formed and their rules again rejected. In 1881, when HRH Albert Edward, Prince of Wales was Commodore of the Royal Thames Yacht Club and the Royal Yacht Squadron, the two clubs joined the Yacht Racing Association along with the New Thames Yacht Club and developed a set of rules for British waters.

There was still confusion over the different measurement standards that were being used in Europe, North America and Britain which meant yachts from different countries could not compete on equal terms. Major Brooke Heckstall-Smith, secretary of the Yacht Racing Association, wrote to the Yacht Club de France expressing the need to devise an international rule of measurement for racing yachts that was acceptable to all European countries. As a result, an International Conference on Yacht Measurement was held in London in January and June 1906 and the 'Metre Rule' was developed. The attendees formed the International Yacht Racing Union and adopted a common code of yacht racing rules based on that of the YRA. The rule is still used today in the 12 Metre, 8 Metre, 6 Metre and other Metre boats.

At that time the IYRU comprised of the yachting authorities of Austria-Hungary, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland and Belgium, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

In November 1929, representatives from the North American Yacht Racing Union actively took part in the discussions to ensure that the North American Yacht Racing Rules and the International Yacht Racing Rules were almost identically worded and that neither one would change their rules without first informing the other. In 1960 a totally universal code of racing rules was agreed and implemented.

From 1906 to 1946 a chairman was elected from time to time to orchestrate the annual meetings of the IYRU. In 1946, Sir Ralph Gore was elected the first President and since then the ISAF has seen five Presidents: Sir Peter Scott (GBR) 1955-69, Beppe Croce (ITA) 1969-86 Peter Tallberg (FIN) 1986-1994, Paul Henderson (CAN) 1994-2004, Göran Petersson (SWE) 2004-2012 and Carlo Croce (ITA) 2012 to present.

The International Sailing Federation is officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee as the governing authority for sailing world-wide. As such, ISAF is responsible for promotion of the sport internationally, managing sailing at the Olympic Games, developing the International Racing Rules and Regulations for all sailing competitions and the training of judges, umpires and other administrators, the development of the sport around the world, as well as representing sailors in all matters concerning the sport. The name change to the International Sailing Federation in 1996 came with the change to the name of the sport on the Olympic programme from Yachting to Sailing.

In order to promote the development of the sport the ISAF has established several events - including, but not limited to the ISAF Sailing World Championships and ISAF Sailing World Cup (for Olympic equipment), ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship, ISAF Team Racing World Championship, ISAF Match Racing World Championship, ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship, ISAF Nations Cup, as well as endorsing and grading the top international match racing and Olympic Class regattas, the results of which go towards sailors' world rankings, which are administered by ISAF.

ISAF currently consists of 139 member nations who are its principle members, and responsible for the decision making process that governs the sailing world.

There are currently over 100 ISAF International, Recognized and Classic Yacht Classes, ranging from the small Optimist Dinghy up to the largest, the 60ft Monohulls.

ISAF, from its outset, has worked towards a primary goal to ensure that as many people as possible go sailing.

In 2007 ISAF celebrated it's Centenary year by celebrating sailing. The ISAF members, sailing clubs, regatta organizers, sailors and fans were encouraged to organize activities to mark the Centenary with the 'Sail the World weekend' dedicated to getting as many people out on the water world-wide as possible. ISAF also launched the ISAF Sailing Hall of Fame in 2007 to acknowledge some of the sports greatest achievers.

ISAF changed to World Sailing at the end of 2015 as the federation continued to grow as an International Governing Body.

Officers & Officials of Honour

President Kim Andersen (DEN)
Presidents of Honour His Majesty King Harald V of Norway
His Majesty King Constantine
Vice-Presidents Jan Dawson (NZL)
Torben Grael (BRA)
Gary Jobson (USA)
Quanhai Li (CHN)
W. Scott Perry (URU)
Ana Sanchez del Campo Ferrer (ESP)
Nadine Stegenwalner (GER)
Yann Rocherieux (FRA) - Athletes' Rep
Presidents of Honour
1958 - 1991 His Majesty King Olav of Norway
1994 - His Majesty King Harold V of Norway
1994 - His Majesty King Constantine
From 1906 to 1946 a chairman was elected from time to time rather than a President. The first President was elected in 1946.
1946 - 1955 Ralph G Gore (GBR)
1955 - 1969 Peter Scott (GBR)
1969 - 1986 Beppe Croce (ITA)
1986 - 1994 Peter Tallberg (FIN)
1994 - 2004 Paul Henderson (CAN)
2004 - 2012 Göran Petersson (SWE)
2012 -2016 Carlo Croce (ITA)
2016 - Kim Andersen (DEN)
1955 - 1957 His Royal Highness Crown Prince Olav of Norway
1955 - 1964 Jon Loeff (NED)
1957 - 1973 Henry S. Morgan (USA)
1964 - 1969 Beppe Croce (ITA)
1970 - 1990 Jonathan Janson (GBR)
1973 - 1978 George R. Hinman (USA)
1976 - 1990 Andrei Kislov (RUS)
1978 - 1986 Henry H. Anderson, Jr (USA)
1978 - 1994 Paul Henderson (CAN)
1978 - 1986 Peter Tallberg (FIN)
1986 - 1994
1998 - 2008
2012 - 2016
George Andreadis (GRE)
1986 - 1994
1998 - 2004
James Schoonmaker (USA)
1986 - 1994 Peter D. Siemsen (BRA)
1990 - 1998 Robin Aisher (GBR)
1990 - 1994 Arturo Delgado (ESP)
1994 - 1998 Sadi Cloeys (BEL)
1994 - 1998 Jean Louis Monneron (FRA)
1994 - 2004 Göran Petersson (SWE)
1994 - 1998 Ser Miang Ng (SGP)
1998 - 2004 Hal Wagstaff (NZL)
1998 - 2008 Fernando Bolin (ESP)
1998 - 2008 David Kellett (AUS)
1998 - 2004 Nucci Novi Ceppellini (ITA)
2004 - 2008 Kenneth Ryan (IRL)
2004 - 2012 Fiona Barron (GBR)
2004 - 2012 David Irish (USA)
2004 - 2012 Teresa Lara (VEN)
2004 - 2012 Teo-Ping Low (SGP)
2008 - 2012 Tomasz Holc (POL)
2008 - 2016 Nazli Imre (TUR)
2008 - 2012 Alberto Predieri (ITA)
2008 - 2012 Eric Tulla (PUR)
2012 - 2016 Chris Atkins (GBR)
2012 - 2016 Adrienne Greenwood (NZL)
2012 - Gary Jobson (USA)
2012 - Quanhai Li (CHN)
2012 - W. Scott Perry (URU)
2016 - Jan Dawson (NZL)
2016 - Torben Grael (BRA)
2016 - Ana Sanchez del Campo Ferrer (ESP)
2016 - Nadine Stegenwalner (GER)

Current Board of Directors can be found here -

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