Puerto Rico will host the 2011 International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Annual Conference in San Juan at the Caribe Hilton Hotel from November 3-13.
This is the first time in ISAF's history that the annual conference and Member National Association (MNA) Annual Assembly has been held on American soil.
Puerto Rico was chosen as the host country in May 2010. They competed with many other countries, including Australia, Chinese Taipei and Denmark. The selected country must have the backing of their sailing federation, and their government and propose suitable venue hotels and facilities for the event. The ISAF staff conducted a site visit to negotiate with the venue hotels and assess the presentation. The ability of the host venue and its sailing federation is evaluated on its ability to welcome attendees to the annual conference.
This major accomplishment was possible due to the efforts of attorney Eric Tulla, who is currently one of ISAF's Vice Presidents and a past President of the Puerto Rico Sailing Federation. Tulla has held various voluntary positions at ISAF over the last 25 years, since becoming an international judge in 1986.
On November 12 2010, during the 2010 ISAF Annual Conference in Greece, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and the Puerto Rico delegation held a cocktail party to get everyone excited about the 2011 conference. Eric Tulla and wife Suzanne invited everyone to 'come and enjoy the beauty of our island' and described some of the delights of Puerto Rico.
"With blue skies, turquoise seas and Puerto Rico's rich and colorful culture, it is sure to be a fantastic venue for the conference," Tuller said. He added that those planning to go to the conference should book early as it is the prime tourist season in Puerto Rico.
The reaction from the ISAF council and those attending the party certainly seem to suggest that Puerto Rico was a popular choice, with someone commenting 'never before have I heard an announcement for the conference venue be received with whoops and cheers'.
The 2011 conference will bring together over 1,000 people from all over the world. Many of the delegates will be visiting Puerto Rico for the first time.
Dr. Raúl Rios-Mollineda, President of the Puerto Rico Sailing Federation, recently signed over 400 invitations, sending them out to delegates and representatives worldwide. Over 80 countries have already confirmed their attendance.
This year's participants include King Constantine II of Greece, and his wife, Queen Anna-Maria. There is a possibility that King Constantine's nephew, Crown Prince Fredrick of Denmark, may also attend.
The Puerto Rico Sailing Federation will host a beach party at the Hilton hotel on November 6, with a minimum of 400 attendees. In addition, they are planning a match racing competition in San Juan Bay, where some of the world's top sailors will compete. Other events include a Paso Fino exhibition and a pre-conference charter cruise through Culebra and Vieques.
During the conference the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards will be announced. This is the highest award a sailor can receive in recognition of outstanding achievements in the world of sailing. The awards are presented every November to one male and one female sailor.
Suzanne La Placette, Dr. Raul Rios, and Dr. Mercedes De Choudens, President and Secretary of the Puerto Rico Sailing Federation, make up the planning team for this year's event. And the team is looking for volunteers.
The planning team needs people to help secure sponsorship for several of the important functions: to assist during the annual meeting at the Caribe Hilton; to greet the executive committee at the airport and to assist at all the events including the sailing.
To volunteer your services for this year's ISAF conference, please contact Mercedes De Choudens at [email protected] or Suzanne La Placette at [email protected] or contact the Puerto Rico Sailing Federation through their web site: www.sailingpur.org
Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend. There are no registration fees but those wishing to observe the meetings must register in advance on the ISAF website: www.sailing.org/2011-conference.php
Captain Tony Miró is a life-long sailor, photographer and web developer who currently lives in Puerto Rico with his family, where they sail aboard their Hunter 376 Â¡Nada Mas! He runs sailboatspecs.com, caribesailingadventures.com and tonymiro.com.