Regular readers will know that we are big fans of Oman Sail. The project represents more than just sporting achievement – it is a long term commitment to use sailing as a tool to change lives and develop talent. With real support from the highest levels of government, the programme is a a great case study for those who wish to make a lasting impact with a sailing campaign.
But as Pete Cumming, Trimmer and Team Manager says, winning on the water makes it easier to deliver the commercial objectives of Oman Sail.
Which is why the two Oman Sail Extreme 40 catamarans were out on the Solent last week, training for the first round of the Extreme Sailing Series Europe, which starts in Sète – France on the 27th-30th May.
In a one-design series, where there is no room for design wizards to give one team an advantage over another, winning comes down to the teams and their preparation. However the idea that money makes you go faster is still applicable in a one-design series. Cummings admits that having the resources to be able to train against another boat, share data and setup information and have access to an on-the-water coach gives Oman Sail an advantage.
Pete Cumming also believes in the mantra that a champion team will beat a team of champions, but nevertheless, Masirah, the boat that dominated and eventually won the Extreme Sailing Series Europe (formally known as the iShares Cup) in 2009 will have a few champions on board in 2010. Cumming will be joined by “Jedi Master” Loick Peyron. Also on board will be British Olympian, Mark Bulkeley, who will be responsible for the tactics and America’s Cup sailor David ‘Freddie’ Carr on the bow.
Despite his considerable multi hull experience, Loick Peyron says that he learns something everyday about sailing the Extreme 40. The Frenchman has had a varied sailing year already, helming the giant Alinghi 5 catamaran in the America’s Cup and being an ambassador for the new Nespresso Cup for Wally yachts. He is keen to keep the winning record of Masirah in tact, but is also happy to be part of the larger Oman Sail programme.
The livery of the boat has changed. Gone is the distinctive red with the Omani coat of arms, replaced by clean white and bold greens and blues. The next phase of the Oman Sail project – to promote the sultanate as a destination for marine tourism and generating awareness for Oman Air and its routes to sailing venues around Europe has begun.
The second boat, named Renaissance in 2009, has been rebranded as ‘The Wave, Muscat’ as it was in the Extreme Sailing Series Asia. Two times World Champion, Paul Campbell-James from Great Britain will take the helm. Alister Richardson, formerly number 2 in the world in the Olympic 49er class, and former helm of Team Basilica in the inaugural Extreme Sailing Series Europe, will call tactics on The Wave, Muscat, with Nick Hutton, a regular on the Extreme 40 circuits, as trimmer.
Omani squad member Khamis Al Anbouri, one of the stars of the Oman Sailing School and one of the original group of promising Omanis who were chosen to represent Oman in the international circuit, will join The Wave, Muscat on bow.
The Wave, Muscat is a property development where the Oman Sail project will be based. It is also the first development where non-Omanis will be able to buy property in the Sultanate. There are thousands of property developments around the world, yet the Extreme Sailing Series and Oman Sail generates an awareness level that would be extremely expensive to buy as traditional advertising.
The whole project is well considered and a great example of how having a long term vision changes the way you build and deliver a sports sponsorship campaign, but some things are always important. The more sponsorship you have, the more options you have – the more talent you can develop, the more you can train, the more chance you have of winning. The more times you win and stand on the podium, the more chances you get to wear the sponsor’s logos and generate exposure.
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