IFCA and Women

drapeau france

Why didn’t women get an official world title at Sylt this summer? If IFCA was as an obscure entity as the Death Star to you, here’s a little catch-up on the dark universe of International Sailing. I didn’t have a clue until I took part in the IFCA (Volvo Surf Cup) Slalom world champ ^^

Who’s who?

ISAF logo ISAF = International Sailing Federation.

Meaning the big boss (Darth Vador) of more than a hundred sailing classes and setting the rules for the whole Sailing World. It has the ability to deliver official world titles worthy a pile of points and recognized by your country’s sailing federation. Sailing classes have to pay a rent to ISAF, which in return gallantly allow them to exist and organize their own world titles among other benefits. However, you can’t barge in overnight declaring you want to create the Windskating class. Nope.
If you want explanations on how to become an official class, please have a look at this captivating PDF.
Sorry I wasn’t really focused at this point of the discussion so I can’t summerize, my bad.

Eventually these two were created:

logo IFCAIFCA = International Funboard Class Association
Pays ISAF the basic fee and complies to its rules

logo PWAPWA = Professional Windsurfers Association
Pays ISAF bigger money to be able to do whatever it wants with ISAF rules. Why bother, let’s make it no rule. However PWA world titles are not official nor does it appear among the sailing classes. The organisation standards are much higher than the IFCA’s and it is categorized as a « special event » like the Volvo Ocean Race. Rebel Alliance of the sailing world?

Those precious world titles

Anyway. On an idle windless day we asked the IFCA guys about the women world title that was not awarded this year. Once a class is made official, it has the right deliver 4 world titles maximum. Why not 10?
When the limitations were less strict the number of world titles sored to more than 800, which was getting hard to handle. IFCA is part of the ISAF (big boss of the Death Star remember) which decides on the number of world titles. So the IFCA has only 4 world titles for waves, slalom and freestyle! This year they chose to award juniors, masters, senior slalom and youth freestyle. To earn a women world title we must be at least 30 competitors from 5 different countries and 2 continents. Only then can we be eligible for a title.

Just so you know, Grandmasters already applied for a world title. Time to do something?

Yes we can?

Maybe a women-only event is the solution but then we won’t benefit from as a good an organisation as we had in Sylt with the boys. Locations where the female competitors were most numerous are:
> France (Almanarre but they were not interested in hosting an event with prize money along with youth and masters with no prize money),
> Turkey (Lena Erdil tried to organize a women only event that was cancelled because of some paperworks crap, but the sponsors will probably follow her again in 2016.)
> Spain/Italy.

So if you have an idea for next year you are welcome!!! It relies on us! Knowing that we have to prove we can be 30 on the first year to have an effective world title the year after.

Note that in France, everything goes through a representative of the Fédération Française de Voile who will be the interlocutor of the IFCA and will grant approval. We do like hierarchy ^^

IFCA can improve

Logo eurocupConcerning the Eurocup, a tour currently not very attractive for women who sail with men and earn a prize money of 250€ for the first lady, the IFCA can do whatever they want so we can have a European title but they want to set a minimum of female competitors for every event otherwise the title won’t have value. I think 9 or 10 would do for instance. We have to submit the board members a request so that they can vote on it. However if the IFCA does not enforce stricter rules regarding delays of event confirmation/cancellation, I won’t even try. Three events (Silvaplana, Poland, Turkey) were cancelled this summer less than a month before happening, for me and probably other riders it’s a no go for next year. My boss is not that flexible when it comes to a week of vacations.

If only it could them to start windsurfing and take part in IFCA.

Unofficial = Nonexistant?

Communication about girls is an issue. Take the Sylt Volvo Surf Cup. I don’t know who was in charge but women’s com was… well… confusing. The top 10 male riders were mentionned on the flyers given out to people whereas not a single word on women was written. Maybe women registered too late to appear on the already printed flyers, here again the late entries could have been caused by uncertainties about the prize money and the title. Not a single trace also on the event highlights video. Nothing. A highlight just like Volvo’s logo?

Again not a mention in the WOW event summary! Does unofficial mean nonexistent? I went there to fight, not for the tan, I won a race, Lena Erdil who came all the way from Turkey won all the others. To me and everyone this event was rich and fullfilling and meaningful. Not something I’m fine with discarding. Leaving women aside won’t help bring them back; an unofficial result is still a result and it would be great to communicate on it as well.

It would be wrong to say we were forgotten all week long. Paradoxically there was some good com most of the time which is quite puzzling compared the above-mentionned issues. Room for improvement, that’s for sure!

Sylt's full official and unofficial podium! All of them so proud to be here :)
Sylt’s full official and unofficial podium! All of them so proud to be here 🙂 (Blue-pink? Come on guys)

Make change happen

The IFCA lacks a woman and a man representives. What’s the job about?
First of all about volunteering! You will be in charge of communication (managing all female content for the website), locating organizers for women only events and guide them through the process of setting up the event, of course with the help of the IFCA. I am positive it will help solving a few things!

The IFCA is open to change and will do what it can to enhance the situation. Its members paid attention to what we said at Sylt, so will they pay attention to what you have to say.

To end on something hugely positive: in France the number of girls on RRD120 went from 15 to 30 at the National Youth Championship this year!!! The new generation is coming and WORTH FIGHTING FOR 🙂

Bruno De Wannemaeker (IFCA Mr President), Ruben Petrisie (communication for IFCA), ISAF

If anything’s incorrect, please comment and I will make it right! Peace

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