Quanhai Li of China replaced Kim Andersen of Denmark as President of World Sailing when the result of the vote was revealed on Sunday 1 November.
The unseating of the incumbent World Sailng President, Kim Andersen, was not a great surprise – to the media anyway – but the result was not as definitive as might have been expected from reports during the election campaigning.
Indeed, the first round of voting by the National Member Authorities (NMA) gave Andersen a 14-vote majority over Quanhai Li (53 to 39) with the other candidates, Gerardo Seeliger (ESP) on 21 and Scott Perry (URU) 15 votes.
This forced a second, run-off vote between Kim Andersen and Quanhai Li, which went in Li’s favour by 68 votes to 60. Li thus picking up 29 votes and Andersen just seven from the extra available votes.
So, despite the dire financial situation of the International Federation during Andersen’s tenure and his reported ethics rule breaches (which he denies), almost half of the NMA still voted for him to remain in post.
Just eight votes of the 128 NMA members driving the change of President of the International Sailing Federation.
The World Sailing President and the seven Vice-Presidents are elected by National Member Authorities, that is a countries national sailing authority.
In the UK that is the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) who make their selections via an internal committee.
To date it is not known whom the RYA selected for their Presidential and Vice -President votes.
The newly appointed Board of Directors will serve a four-year term up until the 2024 General Assembly.
On the final day of World Sailing’s Virtual General Assembly, David Graham, World Sailing CEO, told the Assembly that the body’s office space was “on the market”, but as of yet there were no offers.
The move from the long-time offices in Southampton, to the vastly more expensive offices in London, has been a major point of contention throughout the election campaign, and together with poor sponsorship levels added to World Sailing’s recent poor financial position.
During the election campaign, the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post reported that Li had the financial backing of Chinese mega property developer Evergrande, which promised to offer US$10 million (£7.6 million) as a sponsorship fee if the China mainlander won the election.
It remains to be seen in what form any ‘sponsorship’ is delivered, bearing in mind the earlier ‘sponsorship’ that World Sailing received from Gazprom, the Russian natural gas giant in 2015, during the WS presidency of Carlo Croce.
That five-year sponsorship deal was abruptly terminated after two years following difficult times for Gazprom in some of their other sponsorship dealings.
David Graham, World Sailing CEO, commented,
“I warmly welcome Mr Quanhai Li as President of World Sailing; it is a great advantage having already served for eight years on the Board. Our new President is joined by a very strong set of Vice-Presidents who have a wealth of experience as former Council and Committee members.”
“The future of World Sailing is in very capable hands and I look forward to working with our new Board. World Sailing’s elected Board work incredibly hard and I take this opportunity to thank the outgoing members for their huge efforts over their term.”
And so ends another World Sailing General Assembly, a virtual one this time of course, but with normal service to be resumed in 2021 when Abu Dhabi will host the Annual Conference and AGM from 20-31 October . . . Covid restrictions permitting.