By Pietro Fantoni
Speaking with other Snipe sailors, the general impression is that the Board does not want to make an effort to reinstate and revitalize the Women’s Worlds.
The topic was presented by Kathleen Tocke on SnipeToday, who introduced the Women’s Worlds Petition, which was signed by many women in Talamone and then had the support of many others in many countries.
The Board of Governors has seven members and, as in any collective body, not everyone thinks the same way. I absolutely support the Women’s Worlds Petition. And I believe that other members of the Board also share my opinion.
Let me summarize the issue:
Fact #1: Current ISAF standards for a world championship have not been met for several years
The Women’s Worlds Championship “Roy Yamaguchi” Memorial Trophy has been held every two years in even numbered years, since 1994. Unfortunately, since 2004 the event has not reached the standards required by ISAF to be called a world championship (at least 30 boats, 5 countries and 2 continents. North and South America are considered 2 continents).
SCIRA received a letter from ISAF stating that we were not meeting the minimum requirements to have a Women’s Worlds and had not done so for several years.
The consequences are: “If a Class has failed to meet this requirement for two of their last three World Championships, it may only call its next such event a World Championship and award World Champion titles if the participation levels at the event meet the requirement”.
There are several proposals submitted to ISAF for consideration at their November conference to be more flexible on the Women’s and Junior regulations. SCIRA will support these proposals through the International Classes Committee meeting, which is where we get a vote at ISAF.
Fact #2: A Mixed Worlds couldn’t replace a Women’s Worlds
There are (two) proposals to SCIRA for a Mixed World Championship. There is a strong belief (among the sailors, and perhaps even within the Board) that the Mixed Worlds would replace the Women’s Worlds.
However, in my opinion, there is a misunderstanding here. Reading carefully, the ISAF regulation 25.2.5 allows the following World Championships in addition to the Snipe World Championship (Open Worlds): a Women’s Worlds; a Youth Worlds; and a further World Championship on the basis of gender, age or discipline. So a mixed Worlds couldn’t replace the Women’s or Junior Worlds.
Why should we make a big effort to support the Women’s Worlds?
First of all because the women are asking for it: “The Women’s Worlds is a special regatta, that most women participate in because it is fun. It has a very different feeling than mixed regattas. Special friendships are made and we can race with our female friends on the same boat … the Women’s Championship and women’s sailing is an area of growth for the Class, must be promoted and organized properly. The Snipe Class is one of the only classes where women can sail together at an affordable cost.”
Detractors could reply: if the Women’s Worlds has not reached the numbers required by ISAF, it means that the women’s movement in the Snipe Class is not strong.
This is not true! The reason why the championship was not valid (for ISAF) in the last editions depends essentially on two factors: the dates and (in some cases) the location. According to ISAF requirements, the last valid Women’s Worlds (at least 30 boats, 5 countries and 2 continents) was held in Oslo in July 2004. All the following championship (2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014) were held in late September or in November.
I want to repeat what it is written in the Women’s Petition:
– the dates for the Women’s Worlds Championship be held during a period that maximizes participation (ie. Summer vacations in Northern or Southern Hemisphere, Easter or mid-July).
– The location must be appealing for women sailors and a women’s regatta: a) easy to travel to venue and transport boats – near major international airport; b) located near a large fleet to help reduce costs of charter boats and housing.
The Board has the duty to consider these requests when they vote on a bid. If the only bid received does not consider these requests (especially dates) SCIRA will attempt to request the organizer to consider more appropriate dates for the championship. The best scenario would be for the concerned women to enlist and encourage clubs in attractive locations and dates to bid for the championship. The Women’s Committee (responsible for recruitment of the regatta dates /venues, can review and forward their preference of bids to the Board for final consideration, promote the Championship, invite women from within the class and from other classes) is a good idea and I personally will support the proposal that will be submitted.
I am sure that the Class can have again a successful Women’s Worlds. The petition is an excellent starting point for work in this direction.