Can The UK Attract an Event like The Louis Vuitton Trophy?

The first America’s Cup race was around the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom, yet despite the success of UK sailors around the world, there are not many international sailing events in the UK.

With the exception of Olympic Class regattas held at Weymouth, commercial promoters are looking elsewhere in the world to hold major sailing events. While international and regional tourism and development authorties like Abu Dhabi, Andalucia, Oman, Perth, Singapore and others see sailing as bringing a desirable audience to spend money in the local economy, the UK does not seem to fight as hard to attract or keep big events.

The extreme series Europe has visited Cowes for several years, but there is no guarantee that it will return in 2010. The closest the Volvo Ocean Race came to the UK was Galway and the race’s HQ has now moved to Alicante. There is no World Match Racing Tour event in the UK, no RC44 race….

But TEAMORIGIN, the British America’s Cup team headed by Sir Keith Mills, wants to change all that. The team is inviting potential venues in the UK to host a Louis Vuitton Trophy event.

“I set up TEAMORIGIN with the clear ambition of ultimately winning the America’s Cup and bringing it back to the UK from where it all began. I know we have some fantastic sailing venues here in Great Britain and as part of TEAMORIGIN’s build-up to the next America’s Cup it would be really positive to see Cup teams racing in British waters as early as 2010.

To that end we are looking for serious expressions of interest from British coastal venues by the end of January 2010. Following that we will explore further the criteria required, through a relatively brief event venue tender process, to mobilise the necessary facilities, infrastructure and funding required to bring a sailing competition of the highest calibre, along with its economic benefits, to a venue on our shores.”

The UK has shown that it can bid for major events, but some traditional sailing venues seem to be complacent about their offer. Like Silverstone, many local councils and development organisations expect the national government to provide funding or are unwilling to make concessions to lure commercial promoters to events.

There is an opportunity for developers to create something new in a venue previously unknown for sailing that might wake up places like Cowes and force them to become world class.

TEAMORIGIN and the WTSA have already compiled a detailed event venue specification document for any venue that might be interested in exploring this opportunity.