The new management of the World Match Racing Tour have a stated aim to make the series a true world championship to rival global sports like Formula 1. It was expected that the tour would announce new events and new venues in 2010, but not many people would have guessed that the first new event would be in Vietnam.
The Tour have announced that Rainbow International Co. Ltd has been awarded the rights to run a tour event in Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam. The Vietnam Match Cup will be the third race in the region beside the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia and the Korea Match Cup.
While there is no doubt that the region represents a substantial growth opportunity for sailing, many sponsors would not have Vietnam on the top of their list of desirable markets. With two events already in the region, many thought that new World Match Racing Tour events would be announced in markets like the USA, Brazil, the Middle East or Australasia.
The announcement of the Vietnam Match Cup probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. While the investors in the private company Regal Faith Ltd, who acquired the rights to the WMRT in 2009, are unknown, it is reasonable to assume that much of the money behind the tour comes from the region. With Malaysian property developer and Entrepreneur Patrick Lim at the helm, a more asian feel to the World Match Racing Tour was probably inevitable.
So while the Vietnamese event won’t do a lot for driving awareness of the World Match Racing Tour or add to the global nature of the series, the venue chosen is a wonderful place to visit and should be a great event for competitors and fans alike.
Once infamous for it’s backpacker boat tours, Nha Trang boasts some of the best beaches in Vietnam and is accessible from Saigon. The Korea Match Cup and the Monsoon Cup have set high standards for WMRT events, but Nha Trang is a a beautiful location in comparison and should quickly become popular.
TeamOrigin’s Ben Ainslie said:
“It is really exciting that the Tour will be going to Vietnam. It is an amazing part of the world. It is wonderful for sailing and it is the most opportune time for the WMRT to expand its global reach this year. The Asian events we have done on the Tour have been some of the biggest ever, with very professional event management and some exciting new venues.”
Mr. Do Tuan Anh, General Director of Rainbow International said:
“It is a great honour for Rainbow International to host such a large scale programme in Vietnam. For the first time, Vietnamese people will have the chance to witness the competition amongst the worlds best sailors right off the shores of their homeland. It is going to be one of this countries biggest sporting events in 2010. More importantly, this is a fantastic opportunity for the world to discover Vietnam’s natural beauty, which I hope will bring about great benefits to our national tourism industry,”
The announcement of the Vietnamese event shows that demand for sailing events to boost tourism is strong. Rights holders are in a strong position as many governments see close links with sailing events and the promotion of a marine tourism sector. Sailing provides a great platform to showcase beaches and fill beachside resort rooms.
Whether or not the World Match Racing Tour can achieve the benefits it claims in its press releases is another story. The announcement included the statement:
“With expected media and television highlights coverage of over one billion households in over 100 countries around the world, the Tour will revolutionise Vietnam’s tourism industry and propel the country into the limelight across the globe.”
The next new event to be announced is expected to be in the Middle East. Statements by Patrick Lim at the World Yacht Racing Forum in December and by Tour President Peter Gilmour yesterday are in line with recent activity including the Oman Sail Project, Sail Bahrain and a round of the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Dubai.
Peter Gilmour, President of the Word Match Racing Tour, said:
“It is our aim to expand the WMRT especially in Asia and Vietnam is our third destination after Pulau Duyong in Malaysia, and Hwasung City in the Gyeonggi Province of South Korea. The Asian events have really taken the Tour to a new level of achievement and I expect to see continued growth across the Middle East and Asia for the Tour”.
The Vietnam Match will be the 8th round of the World Match Racing Tour and be contested in September.