While the big professional teams with their multimillion dollar budgets are facing off in Nice and Le Havre this weekend, there is an argument to be made that smaller teams offer more to local and community based sponsors than some of the corporate campaigns.
Savvy sponsors are also using new media to punch above their weight in terms of delivering ROI via cheap gloabl communications platforms. West Marine, who sponsored Chris Larson in the recent Melges 24 Worlds are using Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and YouTube to activate their sponsorship and as a result, getting more coverage and building relationships with customers.
The following article by Lynn Fitzpatrick was first published at: World Regattas
“We have a great team, a great boat, and great sponsors,” said Chris Larson as he completed his preparations for the 2009 Melges 24 World Championship, in Annapolis, MD. Larson and his West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes team walked away from the rest of the 51-boat fleet during the six-day regatta. Without sailing the final race, they were crowned the 2009 World Champions with a 25-point margin over second place.
Larson approached the World Championship with the goal of winning it. After placing 5th in the 2008 North Americans in Annapolis, Larson and his core crew, which included long-time teammate and experienced bowman, Curtis Florence and Olympic Medalist, Mike Wolfs, knew what they had to work on. They recruited Richard Clarke, the winning tactician for the 2003 Melges 24 World Championship, as their tactician. The team also sailed the Melges 24 Worlds Tuning Regatta, the Pre-Worlds and additional practice days to give them the time on the water they needed to peak at the Worlds.
Larson credits his sponsors, West Marine Rigging, New England Ropes, McLube, Harken, and the City of Annapolis/Downtown Annapolis Partnership for supporting the campaign. Said Larson, “Our campaign is totally dependent upon them and it is great to have behind us 100%.”
Larson and West Marine Rigging’s relationship dates back a handful of years and was cemented in 2007 when Larson’s West Marine Rigging Team won the Melges 24 Pre-Worlds in Santa Cruz.
Said Larson, “I was flattered when West Marine Rigging agreed to sponsor my team and introduced me to their supplier, New England Ropes. They have been supportive in providing standing and running rigging through their Rock Hill, SC facility. As the Melges 24 and 32 OEM rigging supplier, West Marine Rigging is knowledgeable, helpful and eager to work with us to enhance their product. They helped us replace rigging that showed signs of wear and tear before our first Annapolis training session and we have collaborated with them on modifications to the Smart Rigging backstays and other upgrades.”
West Marine Rigging provides OEM standing and running rigging for all Melges 32’s and for the more recently built Melges 24’s. Said Julian Richards, Manager of the satellite rigging shop within West Marine’s Store 41 in Annapolis; “We knew that we had a competitive team when we began our arrangement with Chris. He has an excellent track record here in Annapolis. He is also thorough when it comes to boat maintenance. We replaced all of the running rigging in preparation for last year’s North Americans and were exceedingly pleased with the team’s performance. Leaving no margin for error, we replaced all of the running rigging before this year’s Worlds and also replaced the boat’s turnbuckles.”
In anticipation of the walk-in traffic for the regatta, Richards and Store 41 prepared a number of Melges 24 running rigging packages. Said Richards, “Our Rock Hill, SC warehouse supplies us with standing rigging and fittings for all types of sailboats. The cruising one-design sailboats such as the J 30’s, Cal 25’s, Catalina 27’s and Pearson 30’s represent a good portion of our business, and it was a pleasure to accommodate the racing sailors who were here for the Melges 24 Worlds and other regattas last week.”
Andy Burdick, President of Melges Performance Sailboats commented, “We have had an outstanding relationship with West Marine Rigging pre-dating our introduction of the Melges 32 in 2005. Once West Marine Rigging started to supply the OEM rigging for the Melges 32, it was a natural to have them supply the rigging for the Melges 24. Their warehouse and manufacturing facility can even supply us with unique fittings and parts for our other clients.”
“West Marine Rigging congratulates all the competitors at the 2009 Melges 24 World Championship on an outstanding regatta. Special congratulations to Chris Larson and his championship-winning crew; Richard Clarke, Curtis Florence and Mike Wolfs, on their tremendous performance aboard the West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes boat. We’re proud to be the rigging supplier for the Melges 24 class,” said Matt Wise, West Marine Rigging’s Senior Director of Rigging Services.