More news confirming that Yacht Racing is getting more professional. After a bit of a wake up reminder from Mercedes F1 CEO, Nick Fry, at the World Yacht Racing Forum in Monaco, professional sailing operations, including the Volvo Ocean Race, have been sourcing more talent from outside of sailing.
Alex Thomson Racing have announced that their new Managing Director will be Stewart Hosford. Most recently, Hosford was Head of Sourcing at RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) but also brings significant experience to the role, with six years as a Director at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. The world of sports sponsorship is also not new for the 36 year old. In his previous role Hosford was instrumental in the signing many of the RBS major sports sponsorship deals including Tennis, Rugby, Golf and F1. He managed a team of 200 with a multi-billion spend across everything from marketing, sponsorship, HR, IT, property and logistics.
His new position will see him manage the 12 strong team, including Hugo Boss skipper Alex Thomson.
F1 teams, Premier League teams and other professional sports organisations employ strong commercial teams run by some of the best business people in the world. These are not just the best business people in the sport, they are the best business people period. While some IMOCA Open 60 teams are still amateur organisations, at the elite level, with multimillion dollar budgets, running this kind of team is a business. From the technical world of boat design and optimisation, the needs of a high profile sponsor, events and marketing activation teams and a multi million pound budget to manage, all that without the team even going sailing. This is not a small business, every decision is crucial and can make the difference between the team winning or losing that ultimate goal.
“For me this role is about steering Alex Thomson Racing into a new period. Managing an international sporting team at the highest level, holds parallels to many of the day to day realities that exist within the financial and corporate world. Million dollar deals, delivering on objectives, decision making at the highest level and a clear understanding of the differences between hitting your targets and falling by the wayside. I am passionate about ensuring that we continue to raise the standards within the industry (sailing) both through our performance on the water and sponsorship activation on shore. I intend to be very ‘hands on’, and my focus is not just on the next four years but planning ahead to ensure the prolonged future of Alex Thomson Racing.”
The appointment will mean skipper Alex Thomson will be able to focus 100% on his performance on the water. He has in the past added the management role in the company to that of skipper. Now however he will be able to do what he does best, sail fast and fully focus on his training with the ultimate aim of winning the 2012 edition of the Vendée Globe.
‘Stewart joining the team will mean a big load off my shoulders; I can concentrate on racing and not have to be distracted by day to day aspects of the business. I believe he will bring a new structure to the business that will ultimately continue to improve my performance on the water. Stewart certainly brings a level of networking and knowledge of the corporate world, which will be invaluable in taking Alex Thomson Racing forward. We’ve done two Fastnet races together, so know each other well and I’m really looking forward to working alongside him’
Whilst the team is undergoing its own restructure, the Juan Kouyoumdjian IMOCA Open 60 has been hidden away in the build shed at Green Marine in Lymington throughout the winter, allowing Alex Thomson Racing and Juan Yacht Design to breathe new life into this already radical boat. Now widely considered to be the most powerful IMOCA Open 60 in the fleet, due to the grandfathering rule, the new Hugo Boss will feature some exciting design changes that Alex and his team are confident will ensure success on the water.
With the new boat completing re-fit, both skipper Alex and managing partner of Alex Thomson Racing Sir Keith Mills have been putting in place the team of professionals required to deliver on the company’s goals.
Expect more team announcements over the coming weeks as Stewart and the team at Alex Thomson Racing prepare for the season ahead in the newly refitted Juan Kouyoumdjian designed Hugo Boss.