Olympian appointed Oceania Sailing first life member

Published Sun 21 Jul 2019

The Oceania Sailing Federation’s Pacific Games meetings on Sunday were a success, with a new governing body elected and for the first time, a life member appointed.  During their biannual congress the regional sailing body appointed their first ever life member, from New Zealand Olympian Ralph Roberts.

Above:  Ralf Roberts © Richard Gladwell

Ralph Roberts, born in 1935, represented New Zealand in the Finn class in the Rome 1960 Summer Olympics Olympics, in the FD class as a reserve in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and as the FD representative in the 1968 Mexico Olympics. 

Roberts attended the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles as sailing manager, and his team won two gold medals (in the Tornado and Finn classes) and one bronze medal (in the Windglider class).  Roberts was Chef de Mission for the 1992 New Zealand Olympic team in Barcelona.

Roberts presided over Yachting New Zealand from 1986 to 1989. He was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 1993 Birthday Honours for services to yachting. 

In international sailing administration, he served on two Olympic Juries as an International Judge, and was also an International Umpire.  He also served as the International Sailing Federation (ISAF; since renamed to World Sailing) Area L - Oceania Councillor.  He was appointed a life member of Yachting New Zealand in 2011.

“He’s an incredible character, who is well into his eighties,” said Oceania Sailing Federation President Tony Philps.  “He has done all sorts of incredible things for sailing as a competitor, boat builder, you name it.”

In the body leadership elections, founding member and original secretary general of the Oceania Sailing Federation (OSAF) John Tierney resigned, and Daniel Belcher from Australia stepped up to take the post.

John Tierney is from the Cook Islands, where he has been President of Sailing Cook Islands. He helped establish OSAF in 2009, in order to manage the Pacific region from within, rather than from the distant World Sailing headquarters in London.  John is one of two current World Sailing Area L - Oceania councillors.

Present of OSAF, Tony Philps said it is time for the federation to see a younger generation of leaders. The transition will be complete when he too eventually steps down in two or four years.

(Photo: Sapeer Mayron Samoa Observer)

OSAF elected a new leadership group which includes President: Anthony Philp (Fiji), Secretary General: Daniel Belcher (Australia), Vice Presidents: Tamatoa Audouin (Tahiti), Raema Von Reiche (Sāmoa), Martin Rara (Solomon Islands), Tau Matapere (PNG).

It is the first time someone from the Solomon Islands has been elected as a Vice President. Philps hopes this will help sailing going into the 2023 Solomon Islands Pacific Games.  Also returning to the leadership is representation from Tahiti, which has been absent for nearly a decade.

“We are in good shape going forward,” Philps said.