Cowes Week 2010 featured several special events. Along with the 1851 Cup exhibition regatta for old America’s Cup boats and the Extreme Sailing Series, the Artemis Challenge returned to the regatta to showcase the powerful IMOCA 60 offshore sailing yachts and to raise money for charity by involving some celebrities in a special ’round the island race’. Yachtsponsorship.com ‘s David Fuller was aboard Dee Caffari’s boat for the event.
On Tuesday morning, the Artemis hospitality tents at Cowes Week were full of offshore racing talent. The Artemis Challenge is one of the only events where fans of British offshore sailors can see them competing in home waters, even if the race is for publicity and charity. There is something that Dee Caffari, Sam Davies, Brian Thompson, Mike Golding, and Steve White all have in common – they are all looking for sponsorship to allow them to compete in the next Vendee Globe.
Each skipper has a slightly different story to sell to potential promotional partners and each has different strategies for raising the required money to compete at the highest level. Like all sport, it is not always the most talented athletes who do well, but those who can attract the financial backing to put together winning campaigns. Talent and financial backing is the best combination.
The Artemis Challenge is as much about raising sponsorship as it is about raising money for worthy causes. The whole of Cowes Week is an opportunity to sail the 60 foot racing billboards that are the IMOCA 60s in front of thousands of people and really show guests what sponsoring a 60 foot ocean going race yacht is all about.
Dee Caffari has benefited from a five year relationship with Aviva. The company has supported Dee to three world records including becoming the first woman to sail solo, non stop, around the world in both directions. Indeed Aviva’s activation of Dee’s most recent Vendee Globe campaign spanned business press, newspapers and school curricula and their involvement in the Round Britain record generated a huge return on investment (ROI).
But marketing strategies change, and the insurance and investment brand has shifted its promotional budgets to other sports like athletics and more recently rugby. In July, Aviva announced a £20 million deal to replace Guinness as sponsor of premiership rugby in the UK.
As Founding Partner, Aviva will remain a member of the team behind Dee Caffari’s 2012/13 Vendée Globe campaign, but to mount a challenge that could see Caffari become the first British Winner of a Solo Round the world offshore race since Sir Robin Knox Johnston in 1969, new sponsors will need to be found.
Before that Dee will be taking part in the Barcelona World Race with sponsorship from GAES Centros Auditivos brought to the team by her co-skipper for the race Anna Corbella. The organisers of the Barcelona World Race have helped many of the competitors secure budget for the race to ensure the host city gets its required return on investment. As a result, Caffari is working hard to keep her goal of an entry in the next Vendee Globe afloat.
The Artemis Challenge is an important part of Dee’s role as an ambassador for the Toe in the Water charity. The race offers a £10,000 prize for the chosen charity of the winning Skipper. Joined for the race by former England rugby international Martin Bayfield, ‘GAES Centros Auditivos’ came in fourth on the day.
Martin Bayfield commented:
“It was great fun, great people and a great experience and I absolutely loved it. Dee was very gentle and very kind, and very polite about my steering.”
‘We had a great sail to the Needles and after our hand break turn back into the Solent we hoisted the spinnaker. The strong winds and good boat speed made for some exciting sailing to the finish, all of which helped hook Martin into a new sport. We are sad that we didn’t win a pot of money for Toe in the Water but everyone onboard had a great time out on the water which is what Cowes Week is all about.’
While Dee didn’t win the race at Cowes, the sister-ship belonging to Mike Golding did. The result shows that the boat is still competitive and will continue to deliver Aviva and Gaes value. Dee herself will also continue to deliver value to her sponsors, because unlike some of the offshore sailors, who are most at home alone at sea and reluctant media performers, Caffari is a media savvy brand ambassador who can engage audiences from boardrooms to classrooms.