The Stena Match Cup Sweden is one of the best sailing events in the world. While many race organisers make this claim, there are several reasons why this event, held annually on the Island of Marstrand, should be studied by those who wish to grow sailing to a wider audience.
In 2010, the Stena Match Cup Sweden marks the halfway point of the World Match Racing Tour. The event, which started in 1994, was the blueprint for the tour’s creation, but not every event since has managed to match the Swedish model.
The Swedish event is not just one of the biggest sailing events in Sweden, but one of the biggest sporting events in the country and there are many reasons why it works. Even the relative remoteness of the venue does not impact on its success.
Here are some of the reasons why the Stena Match Cup Sweden works:
- Consistency – The race week is held at the same time every year in the same spot, with the same organising team. This helps competitors, sponsors, the media and spectators plan to make the event part of their annual summer lives. It also gives partners the security to invest in the event.
- Commercial Management – The event is managed jointly by marketing and events company Brandspot and GKSS. The sailing is looked after by the yacht club and the business is looked after by the marketing people.
- Community Buy-In – There are certain sailing events where you turn up in town and you wouldn’t know they were happening; where shopkeepers have an expression that makes you think that the additional crowds are a burden – despite contributing increased revenues. Not in Marstrand. Every business, whether it be a shop, bank, restaurant or guesthouse is part of the experience. Competitors have ‘rock-star’ status for the week and fans are made to feel welcome by the community and an army of volunteers.
- Crowds – Anyone who says that sailing needs to be dumbed down to make it popular hasn’t been to the Stena Match Cup Sweden. Thousands of people line the cliffs to watch the racing, listening to live commentary in partnership with the local radio station. It’s tempting to think that these people are just there for the sunshine – to top up their tans, but watch more closely and listen to their conversations and you realise that these people have come to watch the racing. There is cheering and moans of anguish as penalties are inflicted and the umpire’s calls are debated as if it was a football match.
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