Battle begins for World Sailing President

Published on October 12th, 2020

Every four years, the position of World Sailing President is put to an election. Normally held during the organization’s annual conference, global challenges caused by the COVID-19 required the 2020 event to be held electronically from October 15 to November 1.

To ensure sufficient time for proper procedures, online voting began October 9 with the results of the election to be announced on November 1. David Owen of InsidetheGames explains the complexity of this vote:

A bitter Presidential election is under way at sailing’s governing body, with incumbent Kim Andersen under challenge from three rivals.

There was a time not so long ago when International Federation (IF) bosses seemed as secure in their jobs as Santa Claus or the Man in the Moon.

Those days are gone, certainly when it comes to World Sailing.

As you read this, the governing body’s Member National Authorities (MNAs) are voting in a Presidential election that sees incumbent Kim Andersen from Denmark battling for his post against no fewer than three opponents.

This comes just four years after the Dane unseated Italy’s Carlo Croce in a dramatic election by 52 votes to 46.

This made him, as an insidethegames colleague put it in 2017, “the first candidate to unseat an incumbent in the organization’s 110-year history.”

With World Sailing’s fragile finances left exposed by the COVID-19 crisis, I have detected a feeling that we may not have to wait quite as long for the second.

The candidate with the wind in his sails at present appears to be Gerardo Seeliger, a 73-year-old Spaniard who competed against Jacques Rogge, the former International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, in the Finn class at the 1972 Olympics in West Germany.

Seeliger is an admirer of another former IOC President, Juan Antonio Samaranch, a master politician whom he mentions a number of times during a relatively short conversation.

When I ask him how the governing body of a sport with so many seriously wealthy enthusiasts can be so stretched financially – the 2019 accounts showed a deficit of just over £2.5 million ($3.2 million/€2.75 million) and net assets at the end of the year down to just £1.84 million ($2.4 million/€2 million) – he is blunt.

“It is impossible to understand,” he says. “It is very poorly run. I think World Sailing has done a very poor job in promoting sailing in a commercial or interesting way.” Full report.

World Sailing Presidency candidates (clockwise from upper left): Kim Andersen, Quanhai Li, Gerardo Seeliger, Scott Perry. ©ITG

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