A new ISAF?

We speak to ISAF Secretary General, Jerome Pels
In January this year the familiar figure of Jerome Pels was appointed as the ISAF’s new Secretary General, a position that is well known but often misunderstood. Being one of the most influential positions in our sport and with the all-important ISAF Annual Meeting kicking off imminently we felt it was time to find out more about the man. Pels himself has been involved in both sailing and the administration of our sport for many years. His father, Anders Pels was editor of a sailing magazine in the Netherlands. His father also imported four of the first six Lasers into the Netherlands and the Pels family essentially set up the Dutch Laser Class Association. Some years later, his father once again introduced a new class into the country in the form of the Optimist. One of the first of these went to Jerome Pels – the Lasers, he muses, had gone to his older brother, his sister, father and uncle. With this newest import, so the Pels were involved in the set-up of yet another Dutch class association. Being too small for a Laser, Pels went on to sail a Radial – or a Laser M, as it was then, with a slightly different rig. Professionally Pels was all set for a career in law after completing a degree in his chosen subject. However, between finishing his degree and finding an apprenticeship in a law firm, he got somewhat side tracked. “At that time I was doing a lot of youth coaching for the Dutch Sailing Federation,” he explains. “This was just after the 1988 Games in Seoul where the Dutch had some problems with the results. They asked me to go to the Flying Dutchman Worlds in Italy with some of the new FD sailors and be their coach.