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Celebrating a renowned sailing alum

Published on December 19th, 2022

There is a building at San Diego Yacht Club named after Malin Burnham, and you don’t have to drive far from the club to find others. In his book Community Before Self, he speaks of the importance of giving, and is now being honored for his commitment toward enhancing others.

The Stanford University sailing team has received substantial support from a small group of donors who came together to help the program and honor one of the Stanford sailing program’s greats, Malin Burnham, ’49. Augie Dale will be the inaugural Malin Burnham Assistant Sailing Coach.

Robert Brown, ’90, MS ’91, and Scott Sellers, ’94, MS ’94, both alumni of the sailing program, spearheaded the effort to create this endowment and celebrate a renowned sailing alum.

“We are grateful to the donors and alumni who came together to support the sailing program with this gift,” said Bernard Muir, the Jaquish & Kenninger Director of Athletics. “It is exciting to see such deep community support for Stanford Sailing and to honor a notable alum who helped shape the program.”

In 1945, before beginning his collegiate career on The Farm, Burnham was the youngest sailor to ever win the Star World Championship, at age 17. After graduation, Burnham took part in the America’s Cup as helmsman in 1977 and remained closely connected to the Stanford Sailing community, competing in The Big Sail as skipper on Stanford’s alumni boat in 2004. He was inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame in 2016.

Burnham’s professional career took shape in the real estate industry in San Diego with a brokerage firm, Burnham Real Estate Services. A member of the university’s Board of Trustees from 1985 to 1995, Malin served as a Stanford volunteer for more than 40 years and received the university’s highest honor for volunteer service, the Gold Spike, in 1995.

He co-chaired the San Diego committee in the Centennial Campaign, served as a member of the San Diego major gifts committee for The Stanford Challenge and, along with his wife, Roberta, was an honorary co-chair for the San Diego Leading Matters outreach committee.

Together, the Burnhams have provided support for Stanford Athletics, cancer research, and undergraduate scholarships; the Burnham Pavilion at the Ford Center is named for their generosity.

“It is only fitting that this endowed coaching position be named in honor of Malin Burnham,” said Robert Brown. “Burnham’s volunteer service to Stanford is well recognized and in the sailing world, Burnham is truly a legend both as a competitor and as a Corinthian.

Burnham is loved and admired throughout the sailing world where his seven virtues are widely aspired to: commitment, dedication, hard work, teamwork, follow-through, playing by the rules, and planning ahead. We are delighted that this endowment will ensure these values are perpetually ingrained in the program’s future.”

“Stanford Sailing has a long and proud history but never has had the stability and permanence that an endowed coaching position provides,” said Scott Sellers.

“As a former sailing student-athlete, it’s important to know that I am helping future generations of Stanford sailors by supporting the program. With the contributions of alumni and other friends of Stanford Sailing, we have an opportunity to further build the team’s endowment and strengthen the program in the coming years.”

“Part of a coach’s job is to appreciate the history of their team and their sport,” said Head Sailing Coach Chris Klevan. “Malin Burnham is an integral part of the history of both, and Stanford knows how fortunate it is to boast such a legendary alumnus.

“The fact that he once stood where we are now inspires the coaching staff to push our team beyond what we think is possible, and Stanford’s continued effort to maintain a program of excellence is, undoubtedly, done in his image. The stability that this coaching endowment provides will benefit our team for years to come.”


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