Paul Henderson – World Sailing Must Lead Sailing Back Into Paralympics

Large Skud

Nov 6, 2016

Toronto’s Paul Henderson, former President of ISAF/World Sailing, is one of the nominees for the Presidency of World Sailing, which falls vacant this November. He sets out his views on the situation regarding the reinstatement of Sailing into the Paralympics:

As some of you know I have a physically challenged son who has done quite well.

I gave both a Martin 16 and a 2.4m to the Toronto Waterfront Disabled Sailing Club.

The 2.4m was named the ‘PopeMobile’. The Martin 16 was named ‘Freedom’ in honour of what Paralympian Paul Callahan
replied when I asked at a Shake-a-Leg Regatta in San Diego why he sailed he tersely responded ‘Freedom’.

So the deletion of Sailing from TOKYO2020 Paralympic Games hit home very acutely.

I have checked today (Friday Oct 21) with the senior officials of the Paralympics as to what happened with the dropping of Sailing from the 2020 paralympics.

The problem did not occur under the current World Sailing administration but happened when the Sailing Paralympics were under the separate IFDS Committee who were in disarray over internal governance problems. The sailors lost out.

Paralympics tried everything they could to get Sailing to report properly but that did not happen.

It is interesting that the two sports that were dropped from the TOKYO2020 Paralympics were Rugby 7’s and Sailing which have some similar involvements with their own World bodies.

I asked if there was any way that Sailing could get back in for TOKYO2020 and the answer was firmly ‘NO’!

They also said that World Sailing has now taken over the Paralympics after this debacle and are working to get reinstated for 2024.

As appears to be the way of the now governance the Executive hired the UK Vero Communications to lobby the Paralympics to get Sailing back in for 2024. (To see a report from Inside the Games on this approach dated June 1, 2015 click here

I do not believe you hire outside Public Relation consultants to deal with these Sailing issues.

World Sailing’s mandate is to be the governing body of the sport of Sailing in all its forms.

A major survey that World Sailing must undertake is to get the MNA’s and Classes to list the number of physically challenged sailors who sail in open events. Sailing is an inclusive sport and this participation statistic is one that the Paralympics (IPC) consider when making their decisions.

Many physically challenged sailors sail actively in all sailing events. (As do women, thank God!)

Last year I went to the induction of Skip Doyle into the Buffalo NY, USA, Sports Hall of Fame.

Skip was a top level 6 Metre and Dragon Sailor who was being inducted. Even though he is now in a wheelchair, due to childhood polio, he refused to accept the honour if they said he was disabled. He was a ‘Sailor’ Full Stop.

Sailing must get back into the Paralympics and never should have been dropped.

World Sailing must use all their resources and political leverage to ensure this happens.

Paul Henderson
A Sailor, Nominee World Sailing Presidency


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