IFDS Reviewing Paralympic Boats

Hang on to your hats!!! The IFDS Equipment Evaluation Commission has once again been asked to evaluate equipment (One person, two person and three person boats used) for the Paralympic Sailing Competitions over the next several years. According to the announcement, “the immediate tasks ahead are to refine the evaluation process used in 2005 and 2006 and then implement that process to choose suitable equipment.”

Given the volume and well deserved criticism the Commission received of the “process” it used to select the SKUD 18 for the upcoming Paralympic games, I think it’s time for the Commission to scrap its previous method of selecting equipment and replace it with a new and public selection process that has at its foundation a quantifiable accounting of how decisions are made at each step of the selection process. Closed door meetings are not the answer. Its time for the IFDS time to develop a selection process in advance of the equipment reviews, collect public input from sailors with disabilities PRIOR to going forward with anything and involve IFDS members and sailors from beginning to end!

According to the announcement, “Individuals interested in assisting in the evaluation process for the Single-Person and Three-Person Keel boat events are requested to contact the IFDS Secretariat.” I say we accept their invitation and speak out for a more rational and public selection process.

For openers, I would suggest that before the IFDS again decides to force DSAs and individuals to buy into an largely untested and unavailable new one design class over designs that have been used in disabled sailing for many years and are widely available, they should stop and think about the consequences. If the IFDS wants to make the Paralympic experience accessible to as many disabled sailors as possible they should at least consider the benefit of using popular classes of boat whenever possible so that DSAs and individual are not forced to retool their fleets and so that their sailors can gain experience in sailing Paralympic class boats.

One last thing. Beware 2.4 Meter and Sonar sailors and DSA’s. They’re at it again.