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World Sailing

International Sailing Federation - ISAF

Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
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[International Sailing Federation flag] image by Zoltan Horvath, 11 November 2013

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The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the world governing body for the sport of sailing.
The world governing body for the sport of sailing was created at the Yacht Club de France in Paris on October 14, 1907 in October 1907. It was initially known as the International Yacht Racing Union before the names was changed to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) on 5 August 1996.
The International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU) evolved from the need for racing sailors to have a uniform set of rules and measurement standard and there is now a system of rules and measurement that are used world-wide in all sailing events.
Before 1870 individual yacht clubs developed their own set of racing rules of which each was the sole arbiter in interpreting and applying them. While the popularity of racing against other clubs grew so did the confusion and frustration on the race course.
In Britain, there were several attempts to develop a uniform set of rules and the first meeting to develop such rules was the 'Yachting Congress' organized by the Royal Victoria Yacht Club on 1 June 1868. This congress was attended by 23 representatives from 14 clubs. Under the guidance of Captain Mackinnon, a sub-committee of the congress compiled a pamphlet of the existing rules on all the yacht clubs.
The Congress met again on 4 March 1869 when a draft of the racing rules were examined and adopted. However, when published in the yachting press it met with severe criticism and was abandoned.
The need for a coherent set of rules continued to grow. A number of associations were formed and their rules subsequently rejected. In 1881, when HRH Albert Edward, Prince of Wales was Commodore of the Royal Thames Yacht Club and the Royal Yacht Squadron, these two clubs joined the Yacht Racing Association (which changed its name in 1953 to become the Royal Yachting Association) along with the New Thames Yacht Club and developed a set of rules for British waters.
Again confusion arose over the different measurement standards that were being used in Europe, North America and Britain. Consequently, yachts from different countries could not compete on equal terms. Major Brooke Heckstall-Smith, secretary of the Yacht Racing Association, wrote to the Yacht Club de France expressing the need to devise an international rule of measurement for racing yachts that was acceptable to all European countries. As a result, an International Conference on Yacht Measurement was held in London in January and June 1906 and the 'Metre Rule' was developed and is still used today in the 12 Metre, 8 Metre, 6 Metre and other Metre boats. The attendees formed the International Yacht Racing Union and adopted a common code of yacht racing rules based on that of the YRA.
At that time the IYRU comprised of the yachting authorities of Austria-Hungary, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
In November 1929, representatives from the North American Yacht Racing Union (today known as US Sailing) actively took part in the discussions to ensure that the North American Yacht Racing Rules and the International Yacht Racing Rules were almost identically worded and that neither one would change their rules without first informing the other. In 1960 a totally universal code of racing rules was agreed and implemented.
ISAF currently consists of 137 member nations (Member National Authorities, MNAs) ( ) who are its principle members, and responsible for the decision making process that governs the sailing world.
There are currently 104 ISAF International, Recognized and Classic Yacht Classes ( ), ranging from the small Optimist Dinghy up to the largest, the 60ft Monohulls.
ISAF, from its outset, has worked towards a primary goal to ensure that as many people as possible go sailing.
Affiliated Members of the ISAF are:
- IFDS (International Association for Disabled Sailing)
- ORC (Offshore Racing Congress)
- World Sailing Speed Record Council
- International Radio Sailing Association
Esteban Rivera, 08 April 2012

International Sailing Federation has changed its name since November 14, 2015 to World Sailing. Source:

Since then, a new logo was unveiled ( so it is most likely that a new flag is in use, replacing the old one.
Esteban Rivera, 22 May 2018

Flag at the London 2012 Olympics

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012 [loc12]) provides recommendations for flag designs. Each international federation and international paralympics federation was sent an image of the flag, including the PMS shades, for their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may not be the official version of each flag, they are certainly what the international federation and international paralympics federation believed the flag to be.
Ian Sumner, 10 October 2012

Last year Ian Sumner made some scans from the flag manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012) which provides recommendations for flag designs of international sporting federations.
For International Sailing Federation - ISAF: PMS 281 blue.
Zoltan Horvath, 10 November 2013

The Flag

The current logo of ISAF is seen here. (Source: )
The flag (with current logo) is seen here and here. (Sources: and )
In 2007 the ISAF reached its centenary, producing several flags and a burgee:
- ISAF Centenary Flag (large): The ISAF Centenary flag is 1.8m wide by 0.9m white high (6ft by 3ft). It is white with the ISAF Centenary logo printed single-sided hemmed with rope at each end.
- ISAF Centenary Flag (small): The small ISAF Centenary flag is 0.9m wide by 0.6m white high (3ft by 2ft). It is white with the ISAF Centenary logo printed double-sided hemmed with a rope and toggle.
- ISAF Centenary Burgee: The ISAF Centenary burgee is 34cm wide by 20cm high (13inches by 8inches). It is white knitted polyester with the ISAF Centenary logo printed single sided and finished with hems and rope top and bottom.
The ISAF centenary logo is seen here.(Source: )
ISAF centenary flags being waved, can be found here:
- (set of pictures where the flag is seen)
Esteban Rivera, 08 April 2012

Vertical Flag

[International Sailing Federation flag]
image by Zoltan Horvath, 11 November 2013

Continental Member National Authorities

The ISAF has 137 member nations (Member National Authorities, MNAs)
The objects of Continental Members are set out in ISAF Regulation 2.34(c), as follows:
(i) the promotion of the sport of sailing in its area of influence;
(ii) the co-ordination, together with local member national authorities of the competition calendars to avoid clash of dates of  competitions;
(iii) the establishment of the basis for development and promotion of classes, `which are popular in its territorial area, though not recognized by ISAF;
(iv) the promotion of race officials' education and the encouragement of exchanges of race officials between countries in its area;
(v) the co-ordination of competition activities with the Member National Authorities and the regional sports organizations within their regions which are responsible for organizing sports events in their region.

On the Continental leves (some) MNA's are:
- PanAmerican Sailing Federation (official website) Burgee: n.d. , Logo. It comprises the North, Central and South American (Confederación Sudamericana de Vela) and its affiliated to the PASO / ODEPA  Its full members list is here.
- Federación Iberoamericana de Vela (official website) It comprises the Iberian Peninsula and South America Burgee: n.d. , Logo: Its full members list is here (map)
- Confederación Sudamericana de Vela (official website) (South America) Burgee: n.d. , Logo.It comprises 9 affiliated organizations representing the following Member National Authorities
- Argentina: (Federación Argentina de Yachting) (official website) Burgee: n.d. , Logo.
- Brasil: (Federaçao Brasileira de Vela e Motor) (official website) Burgee: n.d. , Logo, Flag.
- Chile: (Federacion Chilena de Navegación a Vela) (official website) Burgee: n.d. , Logo, Flag.
- Colombia: (Federacion Colombiana de Vela) (official website) Burgee, Logo.
- Ecuador: (Federacion Ecuatoriana de Yachting) (official website) Burgee, Logo.
- Paraguay: (Federación Paraguaya de Vela) (official website) Burgee: n.d. , Logo.
- Peru: (Federacion Peruana de Vela) (official website) Burgee , Logo (old): , Logo (new).
- Uruguay: (Yacht Club Uruguayo) (official website) Burgee , Logo:
- Venezuela: (Federacion Venezolana de Vela) (no official website) Burgee, Logo:
Esteban Rivera, 08 April 2012