The World Yacht Racing Forum took place in Monaco this week and over the next few days, we will delve a little deeper into the topics discussed. There were huge contrasts, highlighting a growing gap between those embracing new technology and having to please sponsors in order to survive, and those who do the sport for other reasons. There were also large gaps. American sailing was seriously underepresented based on the pure number of people who sail there. Growth is coming from projects in the Middle East like Oman Sail or Asia with World Match Racing Tour events in Korea and Malaysia.
The debate on the “real” value of sailing sponsorship” led to a fascinating opposition of views, with sports marketing experts such as UBS’ Annemarie Meyer and B Plan CEO Riccardo Simoneschi discussing strategies and return on investment whilst Andrew Pindar made it clear that what draws him to the sport is passion and enthusiasm. His impromptu phone call to Vendee Globe skipper Brian Thompson added a spark to his presentation, allowing the delegates to listen to this sailor, deep in the south Indian Ocean. A magic moment.
Passion and a careful strategy can both lead to great results. Annemarie Meyer said she never thought sailing would be such a successful sport for her bank – but it did, whilst Pindar’s passion led the King of Bahrain to develop an interest for a single handed offshore regatta.
“One of the advantages of sailing is that there is no negative imagery in sailing, unlike Formula 1 or football”, explained Annemarie Meyer. “Another great asset of the sport is its athletes. You will never put a footballer in front of an audience. We do this all the time with sailors and it works very well.”
Stay tuned for more….