Quanhai Li: Embracing the responsibility
Published on November 4th, 2020
Dear Vice-Presidents, Council Members, friends and all sailing colleagues,
Thank you all for attending this meeting. After a short celebration, we are all back and ready for work as we are about to start the first meeting in our new term and we will work together for the next 1,500 days.
I, as a new President, welcome all of you to this meeting. Once again, I congratulate all the Vice-Presidents and all Council members who were elected.
To the many volunteers who have worked on the Council, Committees and Working Parties who are retiring from World Sailing, you have the sincere gratitude of those in the sailing world for your countless hours of dedication to our sport. You have made such a major contribution to our sport; thank you.
In this new Council, you are all experts with rich knowledge and experience. You are capable and willing to contribute your time and wisdom to the future development of sailing. Therefore, I am pleased to be able to work with you all.
The result of the MNAs (Member National Authorities) voting in the election is a vote of trust, confidence, and an important expectation. I think this trust is more of a responsibility.
Our responsibility is to put our sailors first, provide them with more direct services, and enable more young people to participate in sailing.
Our responsibility is to work with all MNAs, relying on our classes, our clubs, our sailing schools and regional federations to make sailing more popular.
We will establish a closer relationship with the International Olympic Committee, strive for more support from the IOC, and ask for guidance on the development of Olympic competition.
Our responsibility is to continue to encourage participation in Para Sailing and strive to return to the Paralympic Games.
We should also aim at encouraging more women to participate in sailing.
In the course of my candidacy, a lot of people have been asking me why I’m running for the position in such a difficult time. What is your plan? What is your main job if you win the election?
First of all, our most important responsibility is to solve the enormous financial situation that World Sailing is facing. We look forward to the Olympic Games next year in Tokyo as scheduled. Otherwise, World Sailing will be in a challenging time.
We must effectively manage finances, control unreasonable expenses, increase revenue, and ensure a balance of income and expenditure.
We have to find the causes of this economic crisis and come up with solutions to make sure that we can operate safely in the future.
I am confident in all our power to change the current situation. Please give us time to ensure we solve the current financial situation, but also to lay a platform for the future.
Secondly, we should protect the interests of each member and provide more direct support and services for the development of each region.
During this election, I learnt more about South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Central and South Eastern Europe, parts of Asia, and some island countries in the Pacific region, especially their practical difficulties. The question is, what can we do? What can World Sailing give to support their needs?
World Sailing will establish close ties with regional federations and MNAs.
The third is to continue to enhance the value of sailing.
We have more than 100 Class Associations, with different types of boats. We have Olympic Events and more non-Olympic Events. We provide wide choices for other groups of people.
The clubs provide a variety of training programs. Member National Authorities have different plans to develop sailing in their region.
We have hundreds of different competitions each year. Some are local competitions, while some are very famous worldwide recognized events. We will work closely with the IOC, with the classes, with the local organizers, with our partners, and most importantly with the media. This is an essential foundation for us to enhance the values of World Sailing.
Fourth, we will strengthen strategic planning and operational management, to establish a strong and efficient governance operation system, and improve the quality and efficiency of our work, as well as increase transparency.
However, right now, as a good start, we will first establish a new working system in the short term. This system includes online work for our staff, our Board, Council and Committee members.
We will also prepare and have the first Board meeting soon. We want to have a balanced allocation of work for Board members, and will conduct a careful study on the new Committees.
Then we will get in touch with the International Olympic Committee very shortly. In December, the IOC will discuss the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Competition Equipment and Events. We will listen to their opinions and suggestions for the Tokyo Olympics next year. This information will be fed back to you and our MNAs as soon as possible.
At the same time, we will study the financial report and all commercial contracts, to find the reason why we are at risk and propose a solution.
Of course, most importantly, we have to keep up the routine work of the year, including competition management, legal services and publicity.
Since we, the Board have had no conversations before this meeting, what I talked with you all about is only my vision. Any important decision will have to go through you.
In the next four years, we have many challenges. World Sailing needs your support.
Everyone says that we are in the same boat now, each of us has a position on this boat, and our goal is the same. I very much agree with this. Next year we will be sailing upwind, I hope everyone can sail this boat with team spirit. Don’t knock the boat, protect your teammates. Any behavior that affects the safety of the boat and the reputation of World Sailing should be prohibited and should be condemned. We do not want to capsize this boat.
The board will delegate the decision-making of major issues to the Council and the MNAs. Together, we will make the World Sailing boat stronger, safer, and faster.
Finally, I would like to thank our CEO David Graham, Jon Napier, Kendall Harris, Alastair Fox, Raksha Patel, Daniel Smith, and all of the World Sailing staff. In the current extremely difficult situation, you have all worked very hard to maintain the safe and smooth operation of various tasks. Your work in the past two weeks has been excellent. You are a knowledgeable, capable, and experienced team. World Sailing needs you for future work.
And now, I hope that you all have a good rest; you do not have to worry about your new President, and you do not have to worry about your job.
Lastly, I would like to take this chance to express my gratitude to the first President and colleagues I have worked with. Carlo Croce, Board Members, Council Members, and Committee Members; it was an unforgettable memory.
Let us work together to defend against the pandemic, protect ourselves, protect our family, and protect our sailors.
I would also like to express my gratitude to my colleagues and friends who have worked with me in the last four years.
First, thanks to Jan Dawson, Ana [Sanchez] and Nadine [Stegenwalner], three talented individuals, for your experience and ability in your respective roles in World Sailing. I was delighted to work with you. Kim [Andersen] works very hard, and Yann still shows his passion. Torben [Grael] is full of wisdom and Gary [Jobson] and Scott [Perry], we have worked together for eight years, and I am very happy to have worked with you. You have given me a lot, and I have received a lot of wisdom from you.
I sincerely hope that you all can continue to provide support and help for World Sailing.
I wish everyone a healthy and happy life, and I look forward to working for you.
NOTE: Above photo is of Quanhai Li at the 2016 Annual Conference.