Asian boating personality and marine environmentalist Francis Lee, president of Raffles Marina, stepped down from the presidency on 7 October 2017 after helming the marina and yacht club for 23 years.
Lee joined Raffles Marina – the first such development in Southeast Asia – as the inaugural honourary secretary in 1990 and subsequently became the club’s president in 1994. He became a director of Raffles Marina Holdings Ltd in 2005. During his term, he established several key initiatives and events, establishing the Raffles Marina branding to the region.
Under his watch, Raffles Marina became Asia’s first marina to be awarded the prestigious Five Gold Anchor standard in 1997.
Lee championed the creation of the Singapore Straits Regatta, which complemented the Raja Muda International Regatta and Phuket Kings Cup to form a regatta series anchoring the yachting racing scene in Southeast Asia. These events have since become key fixtures in Singapore’s sailing calendar.
Lee, an accomplished long-distance cruiser who favours trawler style yachts, positioned Raffles Marina as a blue water yacht club. He pioneered convoy cruising among members when the concept was new to Asia, and initiated club rallies to destinations including Phuket and the Anambas Archipelago in Indonesia.
As part of the endeavour to encourage long-distance cruising, he co-founded the Aseanarean Bluewater Alliance in 2012, a pan-ASEAN network of marinas to promote regional cooperation among marinas. Lee had some years earlier coined the word Aseanarean to describe the seas of ASEAN, as the term “Caribbean of the East” then commonly used to describe the up and coming cruising region, did not do justice to what he felt was a culturally unique and characteristically distinctive part of the cruising world.
A passionate environmentalist, Lee initiated many pro-conservation projects during his tenure. He was the expedition leader and co-author of two coffee table books, Marine Parks of Thailand and the Marine Parks of Indonesia. These publications highlighted and celebrated the diverse marine biodiversity of the region. The Indonesian expedition was also the subject of a National Geographic TV documentary series entitled Indonesia beyond the Reefs.
As agent provocateur for marine conservation and eco-tourism, Lee chaired the Singapore International Year of the Reef Committee that produced and presented the Singapore Blue Plan to government. The Plan advocated among other things the establishment of Singapore’s first marine reserve which led to the formation of the Sisters’ Island Marine Park in 2014. Lee’s exemplary work and distinguished service in marine conservation was recognised by the International SeaKeepers Society when he was honoured as recipient of the SeaKeeper of Singapore Award 2017.
Taking over the Raffles Marina presidency is Peter Lim, a former president of the Singapore Sailing Federation (then known as the Singapore Yachting Association). He was also the former editor-in-chief of the Straits Times Press and the first Singaporean to have sailed around the world in the Clipper Round the World Race.
The vice-presidency of Raffles Marina also changed, with Gordon Maxted stepping down and Asia marine industry personality YP Loke appointed as the new vice-president. Loke is well-known in the Asia region for his considerable work in marina consultancy and is the president of the Singapore Boating Industry Association as well as an executive committee member of the International Council of Marine Industries Associations (ICOMIA).