Message from Bill Allen
By Bill Allen, ISCYRA President
Nov 30, 2004, 08:06
I am very pleased and honored to be assuming the role of President of the Star Class.
On behalf of all Star sailors, I would like to thank Riccardo Simoneschi for having done an excellent job as president over the past 7 years. He has worked very hard and with significant expense to keep the class in the Olympics and further our position as leaders in international sailing, at a time when the political landscape was difficult. At the recent ISAF conference, I was extremely impressed with the respect the class receives from sailors from all over the world.
I have sailed the Star for over 40 years, starting as a 12 year old, 130 pound crew for my father (where was the weight limit when I needed it?). Over that time, I have developed a love for the Star boat and a deep appreciation for the class and it’s tradition. I have been fortunate to have competed against the top sailors in the class over 5 decades, and the list reads like a who’s who of sailing.
But the true strength of the class has always been the weekend sailors in our Fleets and Districts. We have over 2600 active and Life members, and only a handful are competing for World Championships and Olympic berths. The vast majority sail the boat simply because it is so much fun to sail, and because of the wonderful people encountered at weekend and national events. We must continue to stress these benefits.
Over the years, the Star Class has in fact been about the only class that has been sailed by both top level Olympic aspirants, and the weekend warriors. This has caused occasional conflicts within our class but I believe it is precisely this broad appeal that is our greatest strength.
As the top level of sailing becomes more professional, and more money is at stake, the task of remaining a class for the weekend guy and a class for the Olympics has become more challenging. Requests for coordination with National and International Organizations have increased, and no doubt will continue to do so. If we are to remain participants at the top level, we will occasionally have to consider compromise with these groups in some of our scheduling and race administration aspects. We have done this by supporting the ISAF combined World Championships in Cadiz in 2003, and have committed to supporting the 2007 event in Cascais, Portugal. I note that these are the only events where we have had to modify our Class rules; this would seem to be a reasonable compromise to remain in the Olympics.
I am firmly committed to maintaining and enhancing the enjoyment of the sport by our weekend sailors, and the class’ status as an Olympic participant and leader in world sailing. I believe we can continue to effectively pursue both of these goals, without adversely affecting either group.
In my view, the main responsibilities of the Class Administration and officers are to:
1) Effectively administer class affairs, based on ISCYRA rules.
2) Insure that major championships and events are run at a high standard.
3) Communicate effectively with members regarding class news and activities.
4) Promote the Star Class in the national and international arena.
All of the class officers are committed to each of these objectives, and stand ready to support any local efforts to promote Star Sailing.
At the international level, our class has never been stronger. However, one of the major challenges facing us is how to grow grass roots Star sailing. Many fleets have been diminishing in recent years; and while the Central Office and Class officers can assist local efforts, it is primarily up to the Fleets and Districts to find ways to increase participation in their areas.
I encourage everyone to express your opinions and be active in determining the class direction. I would only hope that we all focus on those issues that significantly affect our own enjoyment of the sport. Arguments for principles alone have their place in the courts, but in a worldwide recreational activity, where differing viewpoints must be respected, we are better served by adopting a spirit of compromise.
Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts and concerns. I look forward to serving the class and sport that have provided me with so much fun over the years.
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