Why Don’t Production Manufacturers go Racing?


In Europe this year, the success of the Quantum Sails Racing Team in the TP52 World Championship, was testament to how a sailing brand can leverage the racing element of the sport. In other places, particularly in America, where the corinthian spirit rules, the idea of competing against a ‘factory team’ seemed somehow uncompeitive. However, even ISAF have recognised that there are amateur sailors and professional sailors.

Coming on the heels of our rant about the absence of racing at the Paris Boat Show, we’ve noticed a story about a new Bavaria.  The Bavaria Cruiser 55 is described as being “one of yachting’s most electrifying collaborations.” Not just any old cruising boat, this one is designed by Farr Yacht Design – designers of such racing boats as the current Volvo Telefonica yachts and several Open 60s competing in the Vendee Globe, just to pick a couple. But that’s not all. Farr have teamed up with BMW Group Designworks USA: “The peak of design creativity, diversity and quality.” 

The boat then, you would imagine would make a point of it’s racing heritage, but the rest of the press-release falls back into the usual cruising stuff. 

Meanwhile, the clothing manufaturers, like Helly Hansen understand how going racing, sells more cruising gear. Thier promotional material as ‘Official Clothing Supplier Of The Ericsson Racing Team’ states:

“We do this first of all because we love sailing, but also because it gives us invaluable information on how our gear works and how we can evolve it together with the best sailors on the world’s oceans. Think about the fact that one leg in the VOR equals 10 years of sailing for the average cruiser sailor, and you’ll see why this race beats every test lab out there.”

Yesterday we asked who sailing’s stakeholders are. Surely the manufacturers have a vested interest in creating the heroes that inspire people to go sailing, yet a quick flick through the attendees of the World Yacht Racing Forum held last week in Monaco, shows only one manufacturer – Bluboats. No Bavaria, no Benetteau, no J-boats…

So, if the manufacturers don’t support the teams we follow, why should we support them and buy their boats?