South African and African sailors have hailed the appointment of Philip Baum as one of the vice-presidents of World Sailing. A former president of SA Sailing, Baum was chosen for the position at the recent elections in which China’s Quanhai Li was elected as the new World Sailing president.
The newly appointed board of directors will serve a four-year term up until the 2024 General Assembly.
Speaking about his election, Baum said: ‘It is a great honour to have been elected a member of the World Sailing board. This is the first time that an African has sat on the board. I am well aware of the enormous responsibility that goes with the position. It is a special opportunity not just for Africa but for smaller countries globally. The membership of World Sailing recognises the importance of growing the sport around the world and the significance of representation from all corners of the globe.’
Explaining the position to which he’s been elected, Baum added: Vice president is an historic term for what would more commonly be known as a board director. There is a president and seven elected vice presidents plus one ex-officio VP. The chairman of the Athletes Commission is appointed to the board. This makes for a total of nine board members.’
Baum himself competed internationally in sailing – both at youth and senior level – and is passionate about growing the sport on the continent.
‘My particular interests are facilitating how to make organisations work more effectively and the growth of the sport. World Sailing is a complex entity being a mix of both a small company and a large enterprise. On the one hand it has a relatively small staff of 27 full-time employees and currently a modest budget and on the other, through its wide network of Member National Authorities (MNAs) and their several thousand staff and volunteers, it operates in 144 countries i.e. it has a global footprint bigger than Amazon.
‘On the growth of the sport, as someone who comes from a small MNA, I am looking forward to joining hands with smaller MNAs globally in the interests of stimulating growth of the sport in our countries. Sailing, apart from giving young people sporting prowess, helps develop critical life skills which serve them well not just on the water but in their careers and everyday life.
‘It is vitally important for Africa to have a voice at the “top table”. The Youth Olympic Games take place in Senegal in 2026. This is a very special opportunity to showcase the sport in Africa and persuade governments across the continent as to the educational value of making sailing a school sport. It is also a unique chance to develop commercial activity and create jobs by selling boats of all descriptions, be they yachts or motor vessels. We look forward to collaborative partnerships with the nautical industry.’
Michael Robinson, President of SA Sailing, said of the achievement: ‘This is a culmination of years of dedicated and inspirational service to sailing. Philip is uniquely equipped to serve the interests of sailors, with a background in the upper echelons of the corporate world, while being a very active competent and competitive sailor. I predict great things to come – watch this space.’
General Manager of SA Sailing Lucy de Freitas congratulated Baum on his election, hailing the importance of the position to the sport on the continent.
‘We are thrilled to have someone of Philip’s calibre and talents in one of the top positions at World Sailing. Philip led SA Sailing with much passion and enthusiasm and I have no doubt his abilities will be well-utilised to grow the sport further on the continent and globally. Our congratulations go to him. We will offer him all our support and wish him all the best in the task ahead,’ added De Freitas.
Words: Karien Jonckheere. Photo: Michael Kurtz