Class Layers - IDA Organisation and Legal Structures

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Class Layers - IDA Organisation and Legal Structures

Post by ROBERT ALPE » Tue Apr 17, 2007 12:20 am

For those who review this Forum, this is number nine in a series of papers. While the proposer/writer is an IDA Officer, the contents are his notions/observations and are not necessarily those of the IDA or fellow IDA Officers.

If you wish to join into this discussion. please read and comment on Part One - Class Layers Forum, Part Two ASPIRATIONAL Class Layer, Part Three ENTHUSIASTIC Class Layer, Part Four AFFLUENT and PROFESSIONAL Class Layer and Part Five SWOT Analysis and Part Six - Time for Change, Part 7 - Where we agree topics before reading this paper, and Part Eight - PROFESSIONAL Class Layer Conclusions. And please feel free to post your responses to each paper on this Forum. Thank you!

Part Nine:

Class Layers - Appropriate IDA Organisation and Legal Structures.

In developing arguments for change, it became obvious that organisationally, the Dragon Class needs to restructure how it governs, what it is responsible for, how it is funded, what it spends its funds on, and every other priority they have, including it's own its charter!!

If we are to seriously debate the winds of change for the International Dragon Class, we need to take a good hard look at structures that confine or limit our ability to implement change.

We first need to look at the International Dragon Association [IDA] as a governing authority, particularly it's management parameters, governance objectives, terms of reference, funding methods [and options,] and external influences. We need to know if the IDA structures allow/encourage change, or are their legal, corporate and physical structures a major limitation to change? Can the IDA deliver change to the class were it required?

Simplistically, the IDA is influenced by 3 PRIMARY FORCES. Essentially, the IDA have three masters to satisfy, three distinct groups that it needs to answer to, namely: ISAF, The Rules of the IDA, and boat owners. Lets look closely at each:


Due to our membership, we are required to support the governance specified by the International Sailing Federation [ISAF]

The objects and aims of the International Sailing Federation, as the controlling authority of the sport of sailing in all its forms throughout the world, are:

(a) to act as and carry out the functions and duties of such authority;

(b) to promote the sport of sailing in all its branches regardless of race, religion, gender or political affiliation;

(c) to establish, supervise, interpret and amend the rules regulating sailboat racing and to adjudicate disputes and take any appropriate disciplinary action (including the imposition of appropriate penalties);

(d) to act as the supervising organisation for the sport of sailing, to grant and withdraw international or recognised status to or from classes of boats and to prescribe the relevant rules and measurement procedures;

(e) to act as the organising authority of the Olympic Sailing Regatta;

(f) to control, organise, conduct, license or sanction other championships, sailing events or activities;

(g) to examine, study, investigate, consider and report on all matters affecting the sport of sailing and any persons interested therein or associated therewith and to collect, analyse and distribute information, statistics, opinions and reports thereon;

(h) to represent and protect the interests of any member of the Federation;

(i) to convene, arrange, organise and hold regattas, races and competitions of all sorts, to create and stimulate interest in and publicise the sport of sailing, to convene, arrange, organise and hold exhibitions, shows, displays, meetings, seminars, conferences and discussions, and to provide prizes, bursaries, grants and awards for competitors and others;

(j) to provide administrative services of any sort whatsoever for any association, union, society, club, committee, body or person interested in or associated with sailing in any of its forms.

The IDA is a founding member of ISAF. It give us the The Racing Rules of Sailing without which Dragon Sailors, would not make it round a race course without major problems.

My sense is that there is little debate as to our collective desire to retain affiliation to ISAF. After all, the class withstood great pressure from the Olympic movement to implement major change, and continued to flourish. It has retained ISAF affiliation, accommodated its [some say] limitations and flourishes still! So ISAF membership may throw a road block or two along the way, but one could be hard pressed to determine they have limited the the growth of Dragon Class, inhibited Dragon Class innovation or been regressive about class change. In fact the opposite could be argued.

I would determine therefore, that ISAF affiliation is positive to our preferred position as a racing class, so while it is a 'master', it functions more like a 'mother', and where would we be without ones mother?

PRIMARY FORCE #2 - The IDA Charter, the Rules we operate under

The IDA Dragon Charter, or the RULES OF THE INTERNATIONAL DRAGON ASSOCIATION as Adopted 1961 (and amended 1993, 1997, 2001 and 2002) can reviewed on the IDA web site.

I acknowledge these Rules and their amendments have stood the class in good stead over a long period of time, but I am doubtful if they can take us into a future filled with change and ever increasing legal imposts. Notably, I am unsure they actually provide sufficient protection or opportunity for our current circumstance. The above Rules are somewhat static, rather than dynamic and respectful of future needs of the IDA. [I mean no disrespect to those well meaning persons who developed or added to the Rules over time.] But today we live in greater litigious times. Importantly, we have new and unforeseen opportunities that today's rules simply never foresaw! Such new and emerging issues [being managed by the IDA] mandate that modern legal and organisational structures are introduced!

I believe it is time to look at the Rules of the IDA; to rethink how it receives information, processes it, makes decisions, decimates information, attracts finances, spends them, employs resources, is legally structured, supports/monitors boat owners, boat builders, sail makers and spar builders.

To begin this process, I would propose a new Constitution or new IDA Rules. There are many appropriate Association Constitution models the IDA can review prior to presenting such change to an AGM. To begin this process, I would enlist the services of several past IDA Officers and at least one current Officer tasked to develop such a Constitution from a specific brief, for presentation to the current IDA Officer group and ultimately the IDA AGM.

Past IDA Management Committees have had to be inventive to accommodate circumstance! But if the IDA Rules foresaw, anticipated, or simply added flexibility to such circumstance, they would not need to find [perhaps] inappropriate solutions outside their Rules.

Let me identify areas of specific concern.

1) Take IDA Income Rules for example. They state income may come from:

a) Subscriptions charged annually to National Dragon Class Associations based on the number of registered Dragons in each National Association
b) The ISAF in the form of a percentage of building fees received from registered builders
c) The sale of IDA labels which must be attached to all sails measured after 1st January 1991
d) The sale of Class rules, drawings, newsletters, other publications and articles associated with the IDA.

• As of last March 1, 2006 the IDA collects income from the sale of Mast Labels.
• For the 75th Anniversary the IDA sought and received substantial Sponsorship moneys.
• The IDA has for many years now, sold advertising space in it's newsletters.

Technically, none of the above examples are covered by the IDA Rules. It could be argued that we should not have collected revenues from these activities as our Rules do not provide for such income streams.

But looking ahead, there are great opportunities for new income streams. For example, the IDA and the IDA AGM 'gift' a location to host World, and European Championships and the Gold Cup. Recently, the clubs hosting these events have received up to Euro 100,000 in funds from sponsorships, even before race fee and patronage contributions from boat owners, crew and their families are taken into account. Presently the IDA seeks not one single Dollar/Euro/Pound from these clubs even though they have many thousands of Pounds of direct costs in ensuring the regatta functions as per our Regatta Rules. In essence, our 'gift' is a windfall for these clubs. The IDA could, should and must charge these venues a fee covering their costs, plus a margin or reasonable profit on the benefit provided. One could even go so far as to suggest selected clubs are requested to 'tender' for a Gold Cup, or World Championship.

Bottom line here is simple, albeit this is only one example of many possible, there are real opportunities for the IDA to increase its income for the benefit of boat owners. And not at their cost or expense either.

2) And take the apportionment of votes at an IDA AGM for example. The Rules state voting is thus:

a) The accredited representatives of 5 National Associations shall form a quorum
b) Each Officer and National Association represented at the meeting have one vote. In the event of equality of votes the Chairman shall have a casting vote. Each representative of a National Association should not have more than one power of attorney (in writing) of a country not represented at the AGM.
c) The Secretaries of National Associations shall nominate in writing to the Secretary of IDA the person who shall represent them at a meeting.
d) No decision affecting the rules of the Association or recommendation for change in the Dragon rules may be taken unless there is a two-thirds voting majority. All other matters shall be decided by a straight vote.
e) No decision may be taken concerning the rules of the Class or the Association unless included on the agenda.
f) The agenda for general meetings shall be sent to each National Association one month before the date of the meeting.

This allows for Dragonia [an imaginary country with one registered Dragon] to have equal voting rights at the IDA Annual General Meeting as Germany, Britain or France who have hundreds. The absurdity of that situation is obvious, and while hypothetical, it is occurring under the current IDA Rules.

Surely it is fairer to give every National Association 1 vote as a core vote simply based on membership, and then additional votes based on a reasonable representation of their fleet size. This might mean Germany or Britain received 3 votes at the IDA AGM. Does this not more equitably represent their absolute mass [numbers] as a Dragon sailing nation, and the number of boat owners as well?

If this were the case, I am doubtful IDA AGM voting outcomes would change much. At least boat owners would be represented more fairly.

3) Then take the item in the 'Objects' of the IDA Association that states:

"To further the interests of the International Dragon Class in all countries where Dragons are sailed and to introduce the Class to new countries."

Dragons are sailed in the USA. When the Olympic movement included the International Dragon Class, it flourished, and grew to national proportions. Today Dragons are only found in limited locals, restored by those who love wood, and rarely raced in one design races due to limited organisation, small numbers, and diversity of location with the nation. If it weren't for passionate people like Mickey Lake et al, it may well be a 'country lost' to the Dragons.

The IDA is doing little more than morally supporting Mr. Lake's considerable efforts, not because it chooses to do nothing, but simply because it has limited expertise in market development and no directed financial substance to go after this opportunity. I acknowledge, the recently appointed IDA representative for the Classic Dragons has provided quality support to the USA Dragon Class to achieve affiliation to USSAIL. Non-the-less, this is a significant opportunity lost, because were the USA or North America Dragon Associations able to developed their fleets to the size of found in Germany, Britain, France or Russia, we would be talking about 100 MORE Dragons, and many NEW Dragons at that!

America is a wealthy country, and Canada also! So not to develop tactical and finance programs that exploit this opportunity is counter to the IDA Rule requirement. But the IDA cannot attempt this with great confidence as it does not have the funds, nor the constitution to gather the funds, to embark on a successful North American development strategy.

Boat-builders and sail-makers please take note; interested persons please note.

We are considering a Gold Cup to be held in Dubai where there are no Dragons, and only a remote chance of there ever being a permanent fleet! This may not cost the IDA anything but opportunity, the loss of which for a fledgling market like North America is considerable.

4) Finally under PRIMARY FACTOR #2, we should consider the technical requirement of the class.

Today our Rules state:

A Technical Committee shall be appointed by the Executive Committee and will be responsible for:

a) Considering all technical matters concerning Class rules.
b) Putting forward proposals for Class rule amendments.
c) Monitoring and supervising the work of the Class Chief Measurer (if appointed).
d) Arranging and monitoring measurement checks at the World and European Championships and the Gold Cup.
e) Monitoring the performance of Class measurers throughout the world with a view to ensuring that all Dragons comply strictly with the class rules.
f) Publicising as soon as possible any interpretations, permissions and rulings to all Officers of the Technical Committee, all National Dragon Associations and Licensed Builders.

Further the Technical Committee shall comprise a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 10 persons and shall not include anyone with a commercial interest in the class (e.g. boat-builders, sail makers) The Chairman shall be appointed by the Executive Committee. The Chairman may invite boat-builders, sail-makers, spar-makers and measurers to attend meetings of the Technical Committee Outer Circle.

... and the Chief Measurer

The IDA may appoint a Chief Measurer who will report to the Chairman of the Technical Committee and whose responsibilities may include: -

a) Overseeing class measurement throughout the world including liaison with all class measurers.
b) Monitoring the standard of registered builders throughout the world.
c) Attendance at World and European Championships and the Gold Cup in order to carry out measurement checks.
d) Advising the Technical Committee on matters regarding the Class rules. If no Chief Measurer is appointed the above matters are to be the responsibility of a "working group" of the Technical Committee.

It is my opinion that technically, the Dragons Class is exceedingly well served by its technical Officers and assuming the status quo, little change at the corporate level is required. But we ask a lot of those involved. We expect big things [and often,] from our technical officers who, are competent, dedicated VOLUNTEERS, giving up much of their leisure time for the class.

I suspect a strategic 'rethink' of our Technical arena/requirement would develop beneficial new directions, and increased compliance at a lesser personal cost to those involved.

The rethink may take the form of employing a full time Technical Officer to oversee productions from boat builders, spar makers, sail makers, and to ensure boat owner compliance at major regattas. That is ONE Technical Officer, responsible for ALL compliance. Obviously, this person would require assistance from local Dragon Association technical officers at regattas, but the very concept of an IDA paid, single, unbiased, and technically competent person being responsible for the class compliance, must be an improvement over the current situation. Moreover, a paid technical officer would be more accountable to the IDA [and in turn boat owners] than a group of well meaning volunteers. [And please, I make no negative comments on our exceedingly competent persons volunteering for technical duties in the class. Without them, we would be even worse off!]

And there is more ...

Over the years, one boat builder more than any other has been vocal in his support, and his criticism of IDA decisions, actions, in-actions and proposals. In my opinion Petticrows' Poul-Ricard Hoj Jenson has usually been fair in such support and criticism, and from my observations is a person to be respected and listened to. His views on almost everything Dragon have come from years of building, sailing, improving, selling and servicing Dragons across Great Britain and Europe. Notwithstanding he is Mr. Petticrows, I sense Poul-Ricard is a Dragon Sailor first and foremost, a friend to all Dragon sailors second, and third, a designer of improvements to our vessels. Lastly he is a Dragon Boat builder, Mr Petticrows. I am not being simplistic in this assessment!

There has been a view within the IDA that a boat builders position on issues are to the benefit of the Boat Builder first, and then to the Dragon Class at large. I would argue that anything that benefits the class, whether or not it benefits a boat builder, actually does benefit the class, and therefore should be given more credence than suspicion.

An example:- I understand Poul-Ricard argues that building 75 Dragons a year rather than 55, keeps the cost of new Dragons down. Should the IDA see this as a powerful argument for Petticrows business consolidation at the expense of smaller builders? One could conclude, yes! Or should they they see the argument for what it is for boat owners, [the IDA's primary constituents,] that of lesser prices for new Dragons.

We do know that were Petticrows to build 75 Dragons a year it would mean several smaller boat builders elsewhere would build fewer boats, and this could ultimately reduce the number of competitors Petticrows has in the Dragon Boat building business.

Conventional wisdom suggests healthy competition will lower prices, so one could argue that the opposite should also be the case. But it is also true that increased production will also lower costs, and with highly 'people process intense' industries like boat building, my professional knowledge supports the volume argument for lowering costs. The class would need to hold Poul-Ricard to account for his new Petticrows Dragon prices, and I am sure we [as a collective] would do so.

The IDA is required to technically oversee [support] all boat builders, but in my view they sometimes seem to take the position that greater support of the smaller or newer boat builders, somehow benefits competition, and such support, is to the benefit of the class.

Foolish I say! Let the chips [or new boat orders] fall where they may. Let the IDA not have a view about boat builders other than ensuring ALL Dragons, wherever they are made, are DRAGONS and fully comply with the requirements. Let ONLY the marketplace determine who is to be successful not withstanding every boat builder should be treated equally by the IDA, without exception or favour!

Success in any business is ultimately due to the support given by its customer base. If Petticrows, Royal Denships, Glas, or you the reader want to product 75 Dragons at the expense of any other, so be it, and the IDA should remain impartial and not judgemental about any particular outcomes.

The world of boat building, sail making and spar building is always advancing, but never more so than today. New technologies, new materials, with their inherent increased opportunities are presenting new possibilities, new racing classes and new businesses for these industries. The International Dragon is a success today, but there are no guarantees it will be in the future with the Dragon Class's 'incremental' approach to change [historically, and for the benefit of the class.] Without constant revision of what is possible for the International Dragon [and still remain faithful to our heritage] we run the very real risk of being left behind in technological developments. Is this wise?

Maybe! Maybe not! But the class does have options!

To be pro-active in understanding what is technologically possible, I would propose an IDA task a Panel or Panels of interested, qualified and responsible persons; including boat builders, sail makers, spar builders, technical officers of the International Dragon Class, materials engineers, naval architects and engineers and sailors who met 2-4 times each year, and report to the IDA every 6 months.

Their terms of reference should be so structured to ensure the class can reasonably contemplate all conclusions and still remain faithful to the core principals of a Dragon. But more importantly, these references must give hope and accommodations to the Class for the adoption of new technologies. Were a Panel to work for a year or more and simply be told, it is now not a Dragon if we accomodate your suggestions, is simply not reasonable, or fair on the services of Panel members and provides only discouragement. Contemplative change MUST be at the core of any IDA deliberations of Panel conclusions.

Were the IDA to go down this path, it would have to do so with a precise and documented road map. It is a road map for the contemplation of technical change. It need not guarantee change, but it must allow for all possibilities with an open mind, heart and reference.

PRIMARY FORCE # 3 - Boat Owners

The IDA is answerable to boat owner's [via their National Associations.]

I am a boat owner. As such, I am heard via my National Association. If my National Association does not representative me, I have no voice.

English is the language of the IDA. I speak English, my national tongue is English [Australian/New Zealand English anyway], my Australian Dragon Association is aggressive, and representative. I have witnessed that others are less so, which suggests they are either happy with how the class is managed, or are not comfortable/competent in suggesting/proposing change or raising issues for the IDA to consider at Annual General Meetings. I sense inappropriate or ineffective representation is often the situation for many boat owners.

The IDA is not in touch with boat owners directly, that is, the IDA is usually talking regularly with National Associations [and by circumstance only a selection of those,] and less often with the boat owner. This is not a fault of the IDA, rather it is a requirement of the IDA/National Association structure and the IDA Rules. The IDA is only required to represent the boat owner VIA their national association, not directly. I am not suggesting this should change, but perhaps the IDA communications could change and now specifically include the boat owner, and perhaps registered crew also.

The IDA Forum on the IDA's web site has been an attempt to achieve this, but as we have seen, while it is well reviewed by sailors, it is not so well contributed by them. This may be due to language, or the very human feeling of not wanting to make a fool of oneself, or perhaps it is the medium itself. This is a quandary, as I can never remember a time, when a sailor had nothing to say about almost everything!

I can only conclude, the IDA needs to open a dialogue directly with the boat owner/crew member in order to hear what they have to say and to speak directly with them. There should be open communications between the IDA or the Boat Owner!!

E-Mail systems are just made for this process, so why not begin a monthly eMail newsletter that provides for reader response, is informative and news worthy, contains useful information about the happenings in the IDA, upcoming regattas and events that influence the boat owner.

But this takes resources and finances that the IDA has in limited supply so the need for Constitutional review to accommodate such simple, yet important opportunities is necessary.

My next papers will be considerable less verbose, I promise. By its very nature, this subject is reasonably legalistic and technical, and therefore requires a complete statement.

Your comments on the above would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Robert Alpe

Mickey Lake
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Post by Mickey Lake » Tue Apr 17, 2007 3:41 am

That's a lot to digest. First, I want to thank Robert and the other officers of the IDA who HAVE been supportive of our efforts to get moving again in the US and with our friends in Canada. I do appreciate it. Moral support is far better than no support at all.

Now I am going to ramble a bit and I hope that you will forgive me that much. I have spent a great deal of time giving thought to much that Robert has mentioned in the above paper. How to bring about change in North America? Positive change? Believe me when I say that when my thoughts turn towards the Dragon class that I think of little else.

I have a lot of ideas but all of them depend on the class in Europe, or at the least the people involved in the class. The South American championship is a marvelous initiative. 80 boats! Wow. Though there may be more that I am not aware of, at present there is one South American Dragon sailing on the River Plate in Argentina (the Olympic boat from 1968, beautifully restored). The logistics of moving 80 boats from Europe to Uruguay must be tremendous, but I have a question: would the same company that is sponsoring this event, or perhaps the major shipping company that sponsored the 75th Anniversary regatta, consider underwriting the transport of used Dragons from the European continent or the UK to a major east coast port in the US or Canada? I can not tell you what a boost that would be for our prosepective owners, especially since the euro is pounding the North American currencies right now.

Would the major forces within the Dragon building world (Petticrows, Royal Denship, Nordic, North and Quantum, etc.) consider taking out an ad in 'Sailing World'? Consider entering a boat in one of the major North American boat shows? Have their promotional dvd's formatted for the North American market? Send someone over to put on a clinic at one of our regattas? Help us set up a website for the North American Dragons?

This is just my opinion, but I will say that we do not need an 80 boat regatta in the US or Canada right now. What we need is slow and steady growth that we can maintain. We need to make buying and importing a Dragon as easy as we can, and then we need to feel a part of the general Dragon community at large. Those of you who recieve my mailings know that this is what I try to do. A big part of the reason that I post here so often is very simply to remind people that we are here and that we are interested.

The Dragon class in the US is probably going to double it's membership in 2007, not because people have bought boats, but because we will have tracked down owners who have been around for years but have lost touch. I am hoping to reach the 50 boat mark in the US. I am not sure of how many boats Peter has in Canada right now. What I am hoping for, really hoping for, is to turn that corner and see two or three boats ordered from Europe in the next couple of years. There is interest. I am just waiting for it to turn into reality.

O.K., enough of all that for now. I have very little knowledge of legal issues and no viable opinion. Honestly I think that this class seems to be as well run as any I have been a member of. Of course everything can improve, but you would have to be an officer to really know the inner workings of finance and legal. I would liketo say that I am dissapointed in the number of representatives or proxies that you see at the AGM. I would hope that going forward from this year that at the very least the US will request a proxy and let our opinion be heard within the class.

We do seem to have a very fine technical commitee. I am not sure about the issue with Petticrows. Is there a question here of perhaps having only one approved builder? Many classes have only one regional builder, but I am not sure that anything will bring down the prices on Dragons except for a sustained drop in sales over a period of years. The boats are being built at a very high level of quality, and since I have been a member it would appear that the numbers are pretty consistant at about 50 hulls per year regardless of who is building them. It is a free market economy, yes?

Well, I said that I would ramble. One more thing, I agree completely with Robert that the class needs to touch every one of us. This forum is the best and only way that I know of to do that without having a full-time webmaster to continually update things and send out notices. I really wish that we had more people post here, and I have tried to encourage our North American sailors to do so. I know that the BDA and the Dutch Association have their own forums, but we need to try and connect with each other across the world and this forum can do that for us. I would like to invite all Dragon sailors to freely voice their opinions here. Your opinion does matter. We can all learn from one another, and by doing so we can forge friendships and a bond that hopefully will last as long as this wonderful class of boat that we all love so much.

Mickey Lake USA149
Last edited by Mickey Lake on Tue Apr 17, 2007 8:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
A disciple of the Norse God of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker.

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You rarely ramble Mickey.

Post by ROBERT ALPE » Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:16 am

Thanks for your considered comments, and yes, there was a lot to digest, so apologies are offered, but I did edit it down by about 50% from the first draft.

In Palma de Mallorca for the Princess Sofia, I met up with the Porta Rico lads from the Dragon MC 2, PUR3, namely Miguel A. Casellas-Lopez, Miguel A. Casellas-Sastre and Jose Menoyo.

We had an interesting discussion about Dragon Moulds and I said that there were 2 sets in Australia, one not in use at all, the other rarely used. I know one set is for sale, and I expect one of the Miguel's to contact me re the possibility of purchasing a set with a Dragon in the mould for importation into south America and ultimately, production in Argentina.

I suggest you contact these people as they may have some answers for you that combat the strong Euro and Pound while providing [almost] local production. I will send you the addresses of Jose Menoyo off-forum. His address is all I have.

May I suggest you propose a US development program to the Petticrows and Quantums of this world as you may be pleasantly surprised at their desire to participate in several of the ideas mentioned in your post.

Robert Alpe

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