Ben Houston, current President of Commonwealth Games Australia, has been appointed chief executive of Australian Sailing ©Australian Sailing

Australian Sailing has appointed Ben Houston as their new chief executive, the body has announced.

Houston, the current President of Commonwealth Games Australia and a former head of Triathlon Australia, reportedly claimed he was "excited" to take up the role.

"It is a great honour to join Australian Sailing," he said.

"Sailing has played a significant role in creating our national identity, and I am excited about the opportunity to create a stronger connection with our sport and the sailing community."

According to the governing body, Houston will begin work immediately on "strengthening ties with clubs, classes and associations across the country".

He will also work with the Australian sailing team as they enter "the business end" of their preparations for Tokyo 2020, though he will not officially take up the role until the first week of April.

Sailing is Australia's fifth most successful Olympic sport.

They have won a total of 27 medals in the sport since Athens 1896, including 11 gold. 

Australia have won 11 Olympic sailing gold medals, including Tom Burton in the Laser at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images
Australia have won 11 Olympic sailing gold medals, including Tom Burton in the Laser at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

At Rio 2016, Australia finished third on the sailing medals table behind Britain and The Netherlands. 

They won four medals, a gold for Tom Burton in the Laser class and silver for Matthew Belcher and William Ryan in the 470, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen in the 49er and Alex Maloney and Molly Meech in the 49erFX. 

Houston replaces previous chief executive John Lee, who announced he would be stepping down at the start of the year.

Houston comes in with "strong business acumen" which Australian Sailing say impressed their selection panel.

A law graduate from Bond University, he has more than two decades experience in negotiating major sporting sponsorship deals, having worked as legal counsel at Telstra Corporation.

He worked on digital rights deals between the firm and both the Australian Football League and National Rugby League, said to be worth billions of dollars.

"After an extensive search, the Board of Australian Sailing could not be happier with the appointment of Ben as our next chief executive," Matt Allen, the President of Australian Sailing, said.

"He brings a unique mix of legal, commercial and governance experience along with an understanding of the needs of all our stakeholders."