In recent years, sailing has managed to position itself as a sport that is worthy of major event status for many cities. While the positioning about a venue for the next America’s Cup continues, commercial sailing event promoters are starting to be in a position where multiple cities are bidding to host their events.
[cleeng_content id=”946012931″ description=”99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. ” price=”0.99″]The topic of how venues can benefit from hosting yacht racing events will be one of the topics discussed at the World Yacht Racing Forum in Estoril in December. The panel will feature Angus Buchanan, who as part of The Sports Consultancy managed one of the largest bigging processes sailing has ever seen to find stopovers for the next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. The World Yacht Racing Forum spoke to Angus about some of the issues that will be covered in Estoril later in the year.
WYRF: Angus Buchanan, how do you “sell” an event to a potential sailing venue?
To a large extent the trick is to help the event to sell itself to the potential sailing venue. As an agency we work with both cities and events and so have a complete understanding of the aspirations and motivations of both parties. Working for the Volvo Ocean Race this meant ensuring that we work carefully with the event to go through their requirements from a sporting, commercial, service and infrastructure perspective and inform them about the benefits they will receive in terms of rights, media exposure, direct and indirect economic impact. We invest a lot of time and resource firstly in the quality of the materials we produce for the host cities, for example marketing and presentation collateral but even down to the tender documentation and contract. Second, we have spent a huge amount of time on our network of city, regional and central government agencies, ensuring that we understand the key stakeholders, their methods and procedures for commissioning sports events and the processes and timelines for reaching decisions.”
WYRF: What are the main challenges?
“Apart from our lives spent in airports and airplanes? The main challenges were the very tight timelines, the backdrop of a severe global recession and the challenge of working not just across many different languages but more significantly different cultures. You have to remember that this process was going on during the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race, so the event’s management was rather busy! We would not have been able to achieve what we did without a high degree of trust and close working relationship with Volvo Ocean Race and some very confident and quick decision making from Knut and the management of the event.”
WYRF: What are yacht racing events’ main assets for a venue, from a commercial standpoint?
One of the main assets is direct relevance to the commercial activity the host city is trying to promote internationally. By that I mean that in addition to raising the profile of the city internationally through the Volvo Ocean Race’s global media, they want to promote the city as a destination for tourism (often around watersport) or the city as a modern, capable and dynamic port capable of handling a sailing/marine event of the size and complexity of the Volvo Ocean Race or a business centre capable of handling the level of corporate activity that a modern sponsored sports event brings. The second area of strength is the ability of the Volvo Ocean Race to stimulate infrastructure investment and long lasting legacies in ports and dockland areas – often the areas are quite run down and high on the list of city and regional governments for reinvestment. All they are lacking is a catalyst such as a large event to help focus and crystallize the investment required.”
WYRF: How do the venues benefit from a sailing event?
That’s straight forward – they include substantial global media exposure; the direct and indirect economic benefits of having up to 900,000 people visiting the city for the event; the opportunity to showcase the city and its excellent marine facilities worldwide; the legacy benefits of redevelopment of marine infrastructure; social benefits of stimulating a healthy sport like sailing; an influx of senior and influential business men and women and government officials from other host countries and finally, the prestige of associating their city with a major event and the other cities that make up the event’s route and race course.”
WYRF: Is the sport of sailing difficult to “sell”?
“Not if it’s sold in the right way, no, not at all……!”
WYRF: Can you share a success story with us, with some statistics?
“There are so many examples – I think you could pick many for the Volvo Ocean Race. Cochin in India really changed perceptions about what Indian cities are capable of and their attitude to sports events like the Volvo Ocean Race. Alicante in Spain has been an enormous financial and economic success for the region in terms of stimulating employment, investment and economic activity around the event. In China, the event was the first to use an Olympic facility post Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, thus demonstrating legacy for their investment in facilities. Another example is Galway which was a financial success for the organisers but succeeded in galvanizing the support of the whole country for the event from the Prime Minister downwards and saw over half a million people through the race village during the event whilst promoting Ireland as a tourist destination and finally nearly doubled their own estimates of the economic impact that the event brought to the region.”
The topic will be discussed in Estoril on December 15 during a session hosted by OC Group CEO Mark Turner. The debate will assemble amongst others Robert Datnow, Director, The Sports Consultancy, Duarte Nobre Guedes, Head of Tourism, Estoril Region of Portugal and Lars Haue-Pederson, Director, TSE Consulting.
For more information, visit www.worldyachtracingforum.com[/cleeng_content]