International Sailing Federation

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International Sailing Federation
Sport Sailing
Official website
Year of formation 14 October 1907
Former names International Yacht Racing Union
Membership size 120+
Other affiliation(s)
Patron King Harald V of Norway
Constantine II of Greece
President Carlo Croce
Vice presidents
  • Nazli Imre
  • Georg Andreadis
  • Chris Atkins
  • Adrienne Greenwood
  • Gary Jobson
  • Qunhai Li
  • Scot Perry
Secretary General Peter Sowrey
Head of Technical and Offshore Jason Smithwick
Head of Competitions Alastair Fox
Competitions manager Antonio de la Madrid
Training Manager Dan Jaspers
Number of staff Approx. 20
Sponsors Rolex
Continental Association

The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) is recognized by the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) as the world governing body for the sport of sailing.

ISAF officially announced it's rebranded name and federation logo as 'World Sailing - A Sport for Life in mid-December 2015. The four main aims of the rebrand are: more transparency, better communication, stronger governance and greater accountability.

Sailing is a very diverse sport. Competitive s]ailing takes place using a wide variety of boats including windsurfers, dinghies, multihulls, Paralympic-class keelboats, keelboats (see also sailing yachts), three disciplines of kiterace and radio controlled sail boats. Furthermore, there are different disciplines such as fleet racing, match racing, team racing and Offshore & Oceanic Racing, Para World Sailing and Cruising. Speed records are managed by World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC), an independent body recognised by ISAF.


The International Yacht Racing Union, IYRU, was formed in 1904, when Major Brooke Heckstall-Smith AINA, then Secretary of the Yacht Racing Association (now the Royal Yachting Association) wrote to the Yacht Club de France, pointing out the desirability of holding a conference for the purpose of devising an International Rule of Measurement for Racing Yachts acceptable to all European Countries. As a result, an International Conference of Yacht Measurement was held in London in January and June 1906, at which the Metre Rule was developed. This group went on to adopt a formal Constitution after a meeting at the Yacht Club de France in Paris on 14 October 1907 so this is seen as the formation date of the International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU). A more detailed history is available on the ISAF website.[1] On 5 August 1996, the IYRU changed its name to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).[2]

Para Sailing History

In 1996 sailing was included in the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games program as a demonstration event. It became a full medal sport at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. Para Sailing is among the Paralympic Games sports in which athletes with a physical disability compete together.

ISAF merged with International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS) in November 2014, and re-formed as ISAF Disabled Sailing - ″The creation of a single governing body for Member National Authorities (MNAs) and sailors will better serve the needs and interests of sailors with disabilities, and provide consistency within the sport, from relationships with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to technical support and operational efficiencies.″

The IFDS Foundation was dissolved during the 2015 ISAF Annual Conference in Sanya, China. The Disabled Sailing Committee then rebranded as the Para World Sailing Committee.

Sailing Disciplines

  • Fleet Racing - The commonest form of competitive sailing involving boats racing around a course.
  • Match Racing - Two identical boats race against each other. This is one-on-one duel requires strategy and tactics. The first to cross the finish line wins.
  • Team Racing - Two teams each of three boats compete against each other. Fast paced racing depends on excellent boat handling skills and rapid tactical decision making.
  • Offshore/Oceanic - Any offshore race over 800 miles, including races around the world.
  • Para World Sailing - Responsible for disabled sailing worldwide. Sailing is a versatile sport that can accommodate many types of disability. Almost any boat can be sailed though some are more suitable than others.
  • Cruising - Can be a coastal day sail or a longer distance international journeys, it is the most commonly enjoyed sailing discipline.

Rules and Regulations

ISAF is now most familiar to sailors for defining the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS), the international standard used to define competition rules and the framework within which racing is conducted.

Para sailing regattas for para sailors likewise follow the ISAF rulebook with a minor change: A 1-turn penalty and adapted seating, mobility modifications (like servo-assist devices for the severely disabled sailors) depending on need. Strict classification requirements are enforced in the Paralympic Games for fair competition in Paralympic-class keelboats.

The key documents under control of ISAF are:


National Members

Like all sports federations, ISAF is composed of "Member National Authorities" (MNA's) from over 120 countries all of who have the right to make submissions to determine ISAF's policies.[3]

Persons with a physical impairment who are interested to learn to sail are encouraged to locate their national World Sailing Member National Authority (MNA), Disabled Sports Organization or visit the local sailing club, as World Sailing seeks to integrate the differently abled into the sport.

Class Associations

The federation recognizes over 80 classes which are each entitled to hold world championships See

Affiliated Members


Sailing and the Olympics

ISAF is responsible for administration of the Olympic Sailing Regatta. Sailing (called yachting in the early years) has been a mainstay of the modern summer Olympic games since 1896, omitted only from the 1904 summer games in St. Louis.[8][9]

To help encourage high level international competition in the Classes used for the Olympic Games, ISAF arrange the following events:

Sailing in the Paralympic Games

Para World Sailing is responsible for disabled sailing worldwide. It is administered through the World Sailing Secretariat in Southampton, UK and the Para World Sailing Committee.

Sailing is open to athletes with physical impairment. The classification system is based on: hand function, stability, mobility and vision. Athletes compete in three events, which are non-gender specified: single-person keelboats, 2-person keelboats and 3-person keelboats.

ISAF Classes World championships

Each ISAF classes is entitled to hold a world championship

ISAF Initiated World Championships and events

The following World Championships are held:[10]

ISAF Recognised World championships

ISAF Special Events



From 1906 to 1946 a chairman was elected from time to time to orchestrate the annual meetings.

Vice President

Vice presidents have been elected since 1955.

  • 1998 - 2008 David Kellett
  • 2004 - 2012 David Irish
  • 2004 - 2012 Teresa Lara
  • 2004 - 2012 Teo Ping Low
  • 2008 - 2012 Alberto Predieri
  • 2008 - 2012 Eric Tulla
  • 2008 - 2012 Tomasz Holc
  • 2008 - Present Nazli Imre
  • 2012 - Present Georg Andreadis
  • 2012 - Present Chris Atkins
  • 2012 - Present Adrienne Greenwood
  • 2008 - Present Gary Jobson
  • 2008 - Present Qunhai Li
  • 2008 - Present Scot Perry

Presidents of Honour

Race officials

There are four types of race officials used to conduct sailing events recognised by ISAF as follows:

Official Awards

The International Sailing Federation hold the following awards together with service medals.

ISAF World Sailor of the Year

The main annual award the "ISAF World Sailor of the Year" that is sponsored by ROLEX in the following categories:

  • Male World Sailor of the Year
  • Female World Sailor of the Year

When a crew of 1, 2 or 3 people is nominated, the awarded is presented to the entire crew. When larger crews win the award, normally only the skipper is recognised.

ISAF Hall of Fame

On Monday 5 November 2007 in Estoril, Portugal, the International Sailing Federation announced the first six inductees for the ISAF Sailing Hall of Fame it is unclear at present when the next awards will be but the original intent was every 4 years. Present inductees are:

ISAF Beppe Croce

The Beppe Croce Trophy is presented to an individual who has made an outstanding voluntary contribution to the sport of sailing. The roll of honour is an impressive one, including multiple Olympic medallists, rules gurus and designers, and all have dedicated an outstanding amount of time to the sport of sailing. Recipients are presented with a replica trophy.

See also


  1. [1], ISAF website history page
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  10. ISAF Events

External links