Give us the lead we need Reynolds tells sailing chiefs


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The Independent Online

A strong call to the world governing body of sailing and its national authorities to take more control and give more direction to racing programmes has been made in Barcelona by Ed Reynolds, American boss of the Quantum racing team.

“Everybody is trying desperately to find what is the solution at the top level,” he said, adding that he was not sure that the bodies responsible were geared up and competent enough to do the job.

As two British teams, Niklas Zennström’s Rán and Tony Buckingham’s Ngoni, ended the second day of the Trofeo Conde de Godo leading their classes, Zennström the TP52s and Buckingham’s skipper Kevin Sproul the Soto 40s, the paucity of leadership was all too apparent.

The TP European circuit was left out on a limb with the collapse of the Audi Medcup series, so Reynolds, Zennström, and Argentina’s Alberto Roemmers, representing Italy, adopted what Reynolds describes as a North American sports model, where the franchise clubs, in this case individual yachts, own stock in the central governing body or league. “Individually we want to beat each other, but collectively we want to have the perfect organisation,” he explains.

Part of the problem, as Reynolds sees it, is that a game which encompasses everything from pottering around the local pond to singlehanded ocean racing, the America’s Cup, the Volvo Race and the Olympic Games has poorly defined destinations and pathways to them.

Helping to redefine top level European competition is Lars Böcking, boss of the Valencia-based sports marketing company Jacaranda. He is convinced about the continuing viability of the TP52s but is unsure that yachting’s administrators, whom he sees, at the top level, often being too far removed from the game, being capable of providing the right structures from grand prix to cadet programmes. Nevertheless, he would like to see them put themselves in a position to do the job.

The International Sailing Federation will elect a new president at its annual general meeting in Dublin in November knowing that it has upset many people by what is seen as confused and muddled thinking when it dropped windsurfing from the Olympic Games schedule and instead chose kitesurfing.

Top candidate for the job is Australia’s Dave Kellett, though the usual political manoeuvring is rampant in the e-mail corridors of manipulation, and he faces challenges from Puerto Rico and, at the moment timidly, Italy.  Kellett is known to have very firm views about the role of a central administration. Unfortunately, the rank and file cannot vote for him or them.