The SOF was created in 1968 with 60 sailors from 12 nations competing on Finn and 5.5m. In the early 1970s, they were 240 sailors from 16 nations, most of them being Europeans. In the 1980s, overseas countries began to join the European circuit. In 2008, for the 40th SOF, 930 sailors competed in Hyères, on 690 boats representing 61 nations. One hundred and forty-five coach boats were registered, and the event was run by about 300 volunteers, including 15 International Judges and nine International Race Officers.
Initiated and still organized by sailors for other sailors, the SOF has convinced by its rigorous organization and the quality of the racing area. When ISAF decided to change the racing format of sailing at Olympic Games, in the early 1990s, with smaller fleets on shorter courses, the SOF was among the first events to experiment group systems with qualifying and final rounds. This was the beginning of trapezoid courses, replacing the former "Olympic triangle". The new organization needed to have a solid headquarter onshore with experienced PROs, able to coordinate racing on five or six racing areas simultaneously and looking for consistency of the race management. In 2002, Paralympic classes were included in Hyères programme, allowing disabled sailors to join Olympic sailors on the same venue, competing and celebrating sport at the same time.
2009 should start a new era for the SOF, with the ISAF Sailing World Cup label and the support of the city of Hyères extended to TPM (Toulon Provence Méditerranée), community of cities around Toulon.
The racing areas offers a wide range of wind conditions, with smooth sea breeze, sometimes Mistral, strong northerly with flat water, or easterly wind bringing big waves and rough sea. These changing conditions make the sport difficult but cannot be better for preparation of the teams.
During last 12 years, the press and communication system used in Hyères has improved a lot, becoming one of the major objectives for the organizing committee. Beside a press centre providing journalists with facilities as press room with telephone and internet connexions, boats, direct results…, the event has his own video production team. Editing is transmitted daily to TVs and Press agencies, and footage are provided free of charge to TV companies not present on the spot or to teams requesting it.
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The first ISAF Sailing World Cup is set to launch at the end of 2008 bringing a new annual series of sailing to the international sports calendar. The World Cup will be open to the sailing events chosen for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Competitions.
Incorporating existing major events, the series will kick off with Sail Melbourne, Australia in December 2008, followed by the Rolex Miami OCR, USA; the Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia MAPFRE, Palma, Spain; Semaine Olympique Francaise, Hyeres, France; the Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, the Netherlands; Kieler Woche, Germany; and Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, Weymouth, Great Britain.
You can find out more on the ISAF Sailing World Cup microsite at www.sailing.org/isafsailingworldcup.
For more details on sponsorship and advertising opportunities contact the ISAF Marketing and Media department at www.sailing.org/contactmarketing.