1996 FISA Ordinary Congress
Report from Congress:
reported by Rachel Quarrell, including some discussion arising from the press 
conference held after the Congress.  

The FISA Congress 1996 took place at Strathclyde World Rowing 
Championships 1996 on the fourth day of racing.

At the meeting were discussed various items which are to be raised 
at the 1997 Extraordinary FISA Congress in Sydney in December.  

Re-structure of FISA.  Various committees are to be merged to allow 
more efficient use of the personnel available.  One press point was
that if the publicity /marketing branches of FISA are to be merged,
it should be ensured that facilities for the press were still up to 
standard (as they have often not been this year).

Equipment Proposals.  Many ideas have been discussed with boatbuilders,
with the International Federation for Yachting, and by the Council.  One
which seems to be worth proposing is that the minimum weight of boats 
should be increased by about 10 percent.  This would reduce the costs 
of materials and therefore equipment, and increase durability.  There is
also the possibility of introducing different minimum weights for lwt
and hwt boats.  Suggestions which seem to be impracticable include the
introduction of a standardised boat design, and use of standardised boats 
provided at regattas (wrong weights for nearly every crew).  Many other 
suggestions are simply impractical to administer with the FISA staff 
available, or would cause extra expense to host national federations.  

World Champs programme changes.  The aims are to reduce the cost for host
federations, reduce the cost for teams, reduce cost for organising committees,
ensure that all events have a large and representative size of entry, and make 
the programme of events simpler to understand and shorter to cover, to attract
more media and TV coverage.  The latter would increase sponsorship 
Intentions to be proposed to the Extraordinary congress would leave these 
Men's 1x, 2x, 4x, 2-, 4-, 8+.
Women's 1x, 2x, 4x, 2- and 8+.
Men's Lwt's 1x, 2x, 4x, 2- and 4-.
Women's Lwt's 1x, 2x and 4x.
Denis Oswald stressed that there had been a great deal of discussion within 
the Council before settling on these proposals.  Points to take into account 
include how easily coaches can organise programmes (eg women's lwts all sculling
is easier than having a token sweep event), classes must be competitive (so 
single sculls are a good idea), and popularity at the last few Worlds (eg lwt 
men's eights could go).  He wants the Worlds programme to move closer to the 
Olympics (marketing reasons again, and standardisation of crews across events).
EFFECT IMMEDIATELY IN 1997.  National Federations have until 5th December 1996 
to send in their own proposals and individuals can write to FISA (snail only) by 
October 15th, 1996.  

Rules of Racing:  a) Lightweight averaging.
The Sport Medicine Commission of FISA has proposed the elimination of an 
average weight for lwt crews.  A maximum individual weight instead should 
make each rower responsible for managing their own weight, and reduce the 
need for rowers to reduce suddenly to help out others in their crew or due 
to a substitution.  Denny Oswald himself is pretty neutral about this.

Rules of Racing:  b) Opposite sex coxing.
There have been several requests from National Federations to remove the 
rule prohibiting female coxswains from coxing male crews and vice-versa.  
This will be proposed/discussed in Sydney.  Oswald is quite in favour.

Allocation of World Championships.  The Council will institute (and publish 
details of) a much more thorough and exacting procedure for choosing WC 
venues.  The proposal is that the Council itself should allocate all venues
in future, to improve the overall standard of facilities and to include the 
marketing opportunities in the reasons for choosing a venue (ie it should
be publicised around the host country more).  Basic permanent facilities are
needed except where the host country has pretty unlimited resources, to avoid
the hosts having to spend half their budget building changing facilities etc.
Examples - Tampere did not have acceptable media facilities and other 
countries have had very limited local interest.  There will be more FISA 
involvement in those regattas which include the World Cup, which may improve 
venue standard.  Since national delegates do not always take all these factors
into account, hence the decision to take over this function in Council.

Advertising Rules.  After discussion with top sports marketing firms and some 
National Federations, it is proposed that the rules on advertising should be 
relaxed to allow a better and more professional marketing package to be 
presented to potential sponsors.  FISA is in favour of this and it should be 
possible to encourage more sponsorship of regattas.

Various points were made at the press conference following this Congress.

Denis Oswald is in favour of the qualification regatta system for the Olympics
since he feels that it allows the top crews from various continents to get to 
the Games even if they are not the fastest in the world.  

More countries were interested in competing in the Olympics as a result of 
the introduction of Lwt events:  63 in Atlanta as opposed to 46 in Banyoles 
(Barcelona 1992).  

FISA feels that the lwt events in Atlanta were excellent and showed good 
racing:  introduction of them was a positive step.

There are no known positive rowing drugs tests from Atlanta:  Oswald says 
that this can be taken as final:  the results were slow to come through.

If you have points to make to FISA you should put them in writing. However, brief enquiries about factual matters (as opposed to discussion) can be addressed to the FISA email account: fisa@ping.ch.