By Gary Anderson

November 16 - The IFDS has announced that it is to merge with the ISAF © IFDSThe International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and the International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS) have today announced plans to merge the two governing bodies as the ISAF Annual Conference at the Al Bandar Hotel in Muscat came to a close.

The IFDS held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) earlier today and its members fully backed the move, which was also the case during the ISAF Council meeting.

It is claimed that 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 merger is expected to be fully completed by November next year following a review of the necessary structural and regulation changes needed.

Earlier this year, IFDS President John Twomey told insidethegames that the two organisations had been involved in tentative discussions on a possible merger arguing that "a one-stop-shop" for sailors would benefit the sport.

At the time Twomey claimed the future of the IFDS was in doubt as a result of the legal costs it incurred following a legal battle with Britain's Royal Yachting Association (RYA).

The IFDS handed John Robertson, Stephen Thomas and Hannah Stodel a discretionary four-point penalty, costing them a bronze medal at London 2012, when bosun Simon Hiscocks cleaned the port side of the keel after being authorised to lift the boat out of the water to inspect some damage.

The RYA submitted an appeal to CAS in September last year but CAS upheld the IFDS' original decision.

In its ruling, CAS ordered the British Paralympic Association (BPA) to pay the full costs of the arbitration but that each party must pay its own legal fees and costs, which Twomey claimed threatened the existence of the governing body and suggested that a merger with the ISAF would erase any concerns.

Speaking after the announcement today, the Irishman welcomed the merger and said he was delighted with the outcome.

"We are delighted that both IFDS and ISAF unanimously agreed to form a merger," he said.

"At the IFDS Annual General Meeting our members gave full support and I was delighted to see the same from ISAF Council.

"The round of applause received from ISAF Council was incredibly touching and now the work can begin to align IFDS and ISAF, it's one we look forward to implementing."

IFDS and ISAF say the merger will better serve the needs and interests of sailors with disabilities © Getty ImagesIFDS and ISAF say the merger will better serve the needs and interests of sailors with disabilities ©Getty Images

As part of the new move, the expertise and specialisms of IFDS will be retained with a new IFDS Committee, included in the ISAF Annual Conference schedule, while the IFDS chairman will have a full voting seat on the ISAF Council.

The IFDS will retain responsibility for the Paralympic sailing competitions, including event and equipment selection, as well as the IFDS World Championships.

On the water, the Paralympic fleet will continue to be included in the ISAF Sailing World Cup series with entries currently being welcomed for Melbourne and Miami.

The Melbourne event is due to get underway on December 1 while the Miami meeting is scheduled to start on January 25 next year.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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