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World Sailing elections, AC75 images, Bermuda Gold Cup and environmentally responsible sunglasses

by David Schmidt 3 Nov 2020 08:00 PST November 3, 2020
Quanhai Li (CHN) World Sailing President © World Sailing

Irrespective of one's political leanings, it's fair to say that this is a big week for the United States, and for the sailing world. For starters, Quanhai Li (CHN) was elected president of World Sailing, sailing's international governing body, beating out sitting president Kim Anderson (DEN) in a second-round election (none of the four candidates in round one managed to wrangle the 50-percent margin needed to secure victory) that broke at 68-60 amongst the 128 member national authorities who were eligible to vote.

Additionally, seven vice presidents were also elected. They are Tomasz Chamera (POL), Sarah Kenny (AUS), Philip Baum (RSA), Yann Rocherieux (FRA), Duriye Özlem Akdurak (TUR),Marcus Spillane (IRL) and Cory Sertl (USA).

"I warmly welcome Mr. Quanhai Li as President of World Sailing; it is a great advantage having already served for eight years on the Board," said David Graham, World Sailing's CEO, in an official statement. "Our new president is joined by a very strong set of vice-presidents who have a wealth of experience as former council and committee members. The future of World Sailing is in very capable hands and I look forward to working with our new Board. World Sailing's elected board work incredibly hard and I take this opportunity to thank the outgoing members for their huge efforts over their term."

In addition to electing a new president, this will be the first time that the USA's own Cory Sertl will serve as a World Sailing VP.

"It is indeed a privilege to serve the sport of sailing in the role of vice president," said Sertl in the same official statement. "World Sailing has immediate challenges to tackle and solve with finances and delivering sailing at the Olympic Games next summer. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the new board."

Sail-World wishes all of these newly elected officials good luck in their new roles and hope that they will all work hard to make organized sailing even better, moving forward.

Meanwhile, given the date, it's all but impossible to ignore the Vendee Globe, which is set to start on the waters off of Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on Sunday, November 8 at 1302 hours, local time.

While this race is one of the brightest spots on sailing's 2020 calendar, given both the quality of the assembled skippers and boats and the still-raging pandemic, 2020's often-harsh realities have still impacted this solo and non-stop around-the-world race. France, like several European nations, has been facing a sharp uptick in Covid-19 cases as of late, and the decision was made last week to close the race village to visitors.

Sail-World wishes all skippers racing in the 2020-2021 edition of the Vendee Globe safe, speedy and healthy circumnavigations.

Action is also afoot in the America's Cup world, where there are two major controversies brewing (one involving the design concept and patents for the AC75's canting mechanism, and the other involving the racing areas) just as all three of the challengers begin sailing their new steeds.

Richard Gladwell, Sail-World's New Zealand editor and one of the very few scribes and photographers with his sea boots on the deck in Auckland, captured some great images of American Magic and Luna Rossa sailing in 15 knots of sea breeze on the Hauraki Gulf over the weekend.

The British-flagged INEOS Team has also been putting their new steed through her paces, and the Kiwi-flagged Defender is expected to launch their new boat in coming weeks.

Much closer to home, on the waters off of Bermuda, Taylor Canfield and his Stars + Stripes team (Mike Buckley, Victor Diaz de Leon, Mike Menninger, and Eric Shampain) took top honors at the 70th Bermuda Gold Cup and 2020 Open Match Racing World Championship, beating out Ian Williams' Team GAC Pindar squad (Christian Kamp, Gerry Mitchell, and Richard Sydenham) in a victory that's footnoted with an umpire-assigned penalty against Team GAC Pindar.

"It's unbelievable. I can't thank my team enough," said Canfield, in an official press release. "I put us in a lot of tough spots this week and they got us out of almost every one of them. Thanks to Bermuda for getting us here. We're excited to be out racing again, and to come away with a win is unbelievable. We're thrilled."

Williams, for his part, did not share Canfield's enthusiasm for how the regatta was decided. "It's a lot about styles," he said in the same official regatta communication. "We try to keep the umpires out of the game and [Canfield] likes to bring them into it, and it worked for him today."

This win marks Canfield's third Bermuda Gold Cup win (in addition to 2012 and 2018) and his second Open Match Racing World Championship, having previously won the latter in 2013 (N.B. the two events were combined this year due to the pandemic). In addition to hoisting the King Edward VII Gold Cup, and the World Match Tour Championship trophy, Stars + Stripes collected $30,000 of the $100,000 prize purse.

Meanwhile, in adventure-racing circles, the International Association of Cape Horners has announced that they will be officially maintaining the register of sailors who have completed official solo circumnavigations. Previously, this list was maintained by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (GBR), who was the first person to complete a non-stop solo circumnavigation when he won the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, which unfurled between 1968-1969.

To date, this list includes the names of 155 sailors who have completed non-stop circumnavigations and another 143 sailors who have completed solo circumnavigations but with stops along the way.

"To list all the sailors who have turned around the world alone with or without stopovers has been a huge task," said Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, who won the Golden Globe Race 2018, and who has rounded Cape Horn ten times. "It is a very important part of the history of navigation and I hope a lot more names will be added over time."

With luck, all of the skippers starting the 2020-2021 edition of the Vendee Globe will also see their names added to this heady list.

Sadly, anyone completing a circumnavigation these days is likely to encounter a fair amount of plastic detritus in the water during their journey, however there are organizations that are fighting this unsightly and potentially environmentally catastrophic reality, including The Ocean Cleanup. This Dutch-flagged non-profit organization, which was founded by Boyan Slat (who currently serves as its CEO), recently announced that they will be building sunglasses (designed in California and manufactured in Italy) out of recycled plastic garbage that they salvaged from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Better still, 100 percent of the proceeds generated by the sales of these sunglasses will help continue The Ocean Cleanup's efforts.

"It's incredible to think that only a year ago this plastic was polluting our oceans and now it's something beautiful, thereby turning a problem into a solution," said Slat in an official press release. "Of course, The Ocean Cleanup is only here today because of our supporters, so I am excited these sunglasses are just another opportunity for everyone to be part of the cleanup and help us maximize our impact."

For more information, or to order a pair of these sunnies ($199), aim your web browser at

Finally, a small and non-partisan reminder to all registered American voters from your friends at Sail-World that today is your final chance to cast your ballot in what is likely the most consequential election of our lifetimes. If you do nothing else today, please participate in this fundamental responsibility of our democracy. The stakes are simply too high to ride this one out on the rail without putting your brawn into the (metaphoric) grinding pedestal that allows our country to peacefully and democratically elect our leaders.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt North American Editor

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