At the 2016 World Sailing General Assembly meeting in Barcelona today, Denmark's Kim Andersen has defeated Carlo Croce in the second round of Presidential ballot, after Paul Henderson was defeated in the first round.
After an intensive week of discussion amongst the Member National Authorities (MNA's) gathered at the Renaissance Hotel in Barcelona, there was an obvious level of dissatisfaction with the lack of progress since 2012 under the leadership of President Carlo Croce.
Mounting a strong bid to take over the leadership of Sailing’s peak body Andersen received strong support from outside Europe, in Africa, the Asia Pacific and the Americas and split the vote in Europe to take an historic victory.
Paul Henderson, the 1994-2004 President, now 81 years old had no serious expectations of victory, he was in fact standing out of frustration with the inability to get answers on a range of issues from the current leadership. He was eliminated after the first round of voting, after securing just twelve votes.
In that round Andersen led Croce 44 to 43, then in the second round most of Henderson anti-Croce votes went to the Dane and Andersen won 53 to 46.
As we reported during the week, the tide appeared to be running hard against the Italian buoy in recent times and it is a sad day for Croce, the first incumbent President to be defeated in a ballot in the history of the organisation.
There is no doubt that Croce, like his father before him, gave his all for sailing. Many observers wished he had withdrawn from the election in favour of Andersen, rather than suffer harsh judgement from the General Assembly.
Then came the Vice-Presidential election with a strong field of 15 candidates.
The Vice Presidents elected were Jan Dawson (NZL), Anna Sanchez (ESP), Nadine Stegenwalner (GER), Gary Jobson (USA), W Scott Perry (URU), Quanhai Li (CHN), Torben Grael (BRA).
A clean sweep for the three women, always likely as each of the 99 MNA's present had to vote for at least two of them, Gary Jobson and Scott Perry, the two standouts, stand-up players from the old board have successfully recontested along with Quanhai Li who had strong Asian support and they are joined by Olympic icon Torben Grael.
Newly elected President Kim Andersen said to this scribe today:
'When I decided to put my name forward as the World Sailing President, I did this because I was inspired to do more for our great sport. Because I believe that we can do more.
‘Today showed that World Sailing and our MNAs are ready to move our sport forward and I am ready to take on the responsibility of ensuring our sport continues to succeed.
'This is a great day for World Sailing. Today we are a united family, I have been talking to MNAs all week and I want to make sure that this dialogue continues.
'We need to ensure that our federations are equipped with the right tools to succeed, what works in one country many not work in another. We cannot copy and paste success, we need tailored plans and the only way to do this is to speak with our MNAs. I want to involve everyone in making sailing stronger.”
I will be talking at length with the new President in coming days and hopefully will be able to do a retrospective with the outgoing President too. Yes, the interesting times continue.
Rob Kothe, founder and former Managing Editor and Publisher of the Sail-World.com network