First off some definitions. IOC is the international Olympic committee. They make the rules governing the Olympic games. ISAF is the International Sailing Association of Federations. They govern the rules of the sport of sailing for all participating national sailing organizations and classes of boats. Each national sailing organization is set up essentially to develop Olympic competitors. In Canada this is CYA.
Now, the first decision that affects us as sailors is the IOC's criteria for a sport to remain part of the Olympics. Early last year the IOC updated its criteria to keep the Olympics relevant and interesting to all nations. My understanding of this extensive document is that In order for a sport to stay part of the Olympics they must: be accessible, affordable, played by the majority of countries in the world, and spectator friendly, and generate media interest and coverage. IOC also decided that sailing would be required to stay with the same number of medal events.
This raises some issues for sailing. We have some classes such as the Star boat that do not meet any of these requirements but are an Olympic class. (http://www.starclass.org/index.shtml). We also have several classes that only meet most of the requirements such as the Laser. Lasers as you know have an international following, are popular in many areas of the world, and are affordable when compared to other race boats.
Now we get to the ISAF decision that affects sailors. ISAF must keep sailing as an Olympic sport in order to justify its own existence. If there is less international sailing competition, there is less need for the ISAF. So the ISAF equipment committee wrote a recommendation in November that will make some major changes for the classes and formats that compete for medals in the Rio games in 2016. Here are some of the changes that were recomended in november and how they may effect local sailors. These changes are not official and will be voted on in the spring. I will detail these in part II.