Meanwhile – In the Real World, Sailing Gets a Boost from Oprah.



Oprah Winfrey goes Sailing in Sydney

321 new sailing fans thanks to Oprah?

[cleeng_content id="825249941" description="99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. " price="0.99"]While the Yacht Racing industry sat inside a conference venue in Portugal, trying to answer Richard Simmonds question – Who is the most well known sailing personality? Sailing was getting more publicity than it has had in years.

While the sport’s decision makers wondered how to get exposure on mainstream television, millions of mainstream television viewers, readers of glossy magazines and newspaper people were following Oprah Winfrey and Russell Crowe, sailing on Sydney Harbour. A Google search for ‘Oprah Sailing’ brings back 506,000 results including the Huffington Post and Oprahs own website.

One news outlet described it as:

SHE’S the queen of the TV world and he was once a Master And Commander – and today Oprah Winfrey and Russell Crowe went sailing in Sydney Harbour,

It’s interesting to note that nobody in the audience at the World Yacht Racing Forum mentioned Jessica Watson in the list of most recognisable sailing personalities. The Australian teenager probably had more media coverage in 2010 than any other sailor and has sold more books than Ben Ainslie or Russell Coutts.

A Beneteau First 47.7  is not a winged multihull. Oprah could have gone sailing in a bathtub and people would have still watched. The TV megastar said:

‘I’m having the time of my life.’

Sailing does have great personalities like Loick Peyron and Shirley Robertson, but the sport doesn’t make the most of the stars who enjoy sailing to promote it in other areas. The industry missed a trick in Australia.

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  • Geoff

    Great point, well made.

  • Harry

    Good point. Perhaps the issue lies in the fact that the ‘Sailing Industry’ at the WYRF are looking to promote the Sailing as a Sport. Jessica Watson would not have occurred to the gathering as she would not be considered a sportsperson, maybe more of an adventurer.
    THe problem seems to lie in whether you promote sailing as a ‘sport’ or a ‘pastime’.
    Undoubtedly thousands of people partake in saling whilst never seeing it as a sport.

  • Joe Cooper

    Real issues revolves around the fact that sailing is so much to so many folks. It is a career for the VOR/AC/Med cup brigade, which gives bread and butter to a small part of the specialized end of the manufacturing of these bhoats end of things, a sport for the weekend warriors, like an expensive pick up foot ball game, a larger manufacturing and lifestyle (beneteau/Jeanneau) industry trying to fight it out with golf skiing, X sports for teens and 20′s, it is a way of life for many casual cruiser types, a second home relaxation venue for many of the newer entrants into the game– those with some kind of disposable income. The management and operation of sailing’s competitive and promotional side are really only dealing with a small part of the actual sailing pie, I think. A VOR boat at a boat show is pretty much like taking a F1 to a car yard. Looks cool but completely disconnected from a huge percentage of the folks that view it.
    Joe Cooper,
    Former sailing industry/sail salesman
    Newport RI