Robert L. Wilson MH (1938 – 2022)
It is with such great sadness that we share the news of the passing of Robert (Bob) Wilson MH, the Founding Chairman of Hong Kong Water Sports Council.
Bob passed away on 4 November in Portugal. Our sincere condolences go out to his family, his partner Ulrike and his three children, David, Andrew and Julia.
Bob arrived in Hong Kong in 1965 and over the next 50-plus years he played many roles in sports promotion, development and organisation. He was a very experienced and successful rower and in 1978 was a founding member of the Hong Kong, China Rowing Association. He was its President for 37 years and upon stepping down from that position in 2015 was elected Life Honorary President.
In 1978, Bob offered the experience and services of the newly formed Rowing Association to the Hong Kong Tourist Association to manage the HKTA’s newly created annual Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races. The offer was ac
cepted and Bob, recognising that the races had to be run as serious competitive events if they were to be a success, drafted rules of racing and went on to lead the same group in managing the races until 1997, in which time the event grew to be the biggest of its kind in the world and dragon boating flourished to becom
e a major international sport in its own right. Bob chaired the foundation meeting of the International Dragon Boat Federation in Hong Kong in 1991 and served as its President until 1994. In 2022, the IDBF named Bob to its Hall of Fame.
Bob also served on the Council for Recreation and Sport from 1985 to 1989, the Jubilee Sports Centre (later Hong Kong Sports Institute) Board from 1987 to 1996, and the Sports Development Board from 1989 to 1996, as well as chairing a number of other committees and sub-committees, including the Hong Kong Coaching Committee.
In 2013 the Government awarded Bob the Medal of Honour (MH) in recognition of his valuable contribution to the promotion of the development of rowing.
Having been involved in sport and sports development for so long, with a special focus on rowing and water sports, Bob understood that there was vast potential for water sports in Hong Kong but this was not given sufficient recognition by the government. There were numerous suitable sites around the long coastlines of Hong Kong for this purpose, but individual sports approaching the government for such sites were unlikely to be successful. He felt that a centralised voice was needed to raise the profile and popularity of water sports and to attract more attention from the government as to their real potential.
In 2013 Bob was instrumental in setting up the Hong Kong Water Sports Council (HKWSC), an umbrella organisation composed of water sports associations, to coordinate and promote water sports. He served as its Chairman until 2015.
Bob Wilson will be very well remembered by the many organisations and people who benefitted from his commitment and dedication to improving sports organisation and delivery in Hong Kong.