If sailing is ever to work as a professional sport, then the industry needs to work as one to promote different disciplines in parallel. While Oracle Racing may be bored with single-hull match racing, there is an educated, audience of spectators and sailors who have grown up to enjoy the format that has, to date, defined the America’s Cup.
With the World Match Racing Tour offering more prize money than any other sailing series, athletes who choose to perfect this style of sailing have some great events to compete in around the world, and with youth events like the Warren Jones regatta, sponsored by companies that are looking to grow the sport, Match Racing as most people recognise it will be around for a long time yet.
The Warren Jones Regatta has been held annually in Western Australia since 2003 and has grown into a highly regarded event on the international yachting calendar from which many young competitors have launched their match racing careers.
John Roberson spoke with some of the event’s sponsors about why they are supporting the 2010 events.
Austal’s Sailing Sponsorship Used for Internal Comms and Putting Back into the Community.
Austal is one of Western Australia’s great business success stories, having started out in 1988 building high speed passenger ferries, today it is a world leader in shipbuilding with the demanding area of military vessels one of their specialities.
John Rothwell, chairman of Austal, sees some good parallels between their sponsorship of the Warren Jones International Youth Regatta, and the companies attitude towards young people in the work place.
“We’ve always been great believers in training. Our industry must continue to train people, otherwise the services won’t be provided in due course. Austal are dependent on our total workforce, but we normally have between one and two hundred apprentices at any one time. Training young people of course, we don’t only do that as a service to the community, we feel it is a real benefit to us. You are not only training young people in these skills, but also in the culture of the company and the ethics of the company. We are a great believer in apprenticeships and training young people, and in the Warren Jones Regatta someone is training them through experience in match racing, so it is a very good programme.”
Although he sees the parallels, John says that the sponsors ship is more about putting back into the community;
“…it is about our obligation to the community. We’re in the shipbuilding business, and although that’s not directly related, it is a great programme, it is shaping and giving some very good match racing experience to young guys, and therefore we thought it was one of the things that we should continue to sponsor and be involved in for the community’s sake.”
There is also an internal communications element to the partnership. The company uses the Gala Lunch as a great opportunity to bring members of staff together.
“We have always used it as a tool to rotate some of our managers through those lunches, and I make my boat available as a spectator boat. We do it as a gesture for our work force. It’s a good one, it allows a bit of interaction with our senior managers and they have a fun afternoon, and we try to select those that have some interest in the water. It has been very successful as an internal tool.”
Cedar Woods Match Racing Sponsorship a Natural Fit.
For property developer Cedar Woods sponsorship of the Warren Jones International Youth Regatta seemed like a natural fit, as managing director Paul Sadlier comments:
We’ve been involved for three or four years, and we really enjoy it. With our sponsorship policy we try to look far and wide and this event brought in a new section of the public to us.”
With ongoing waterside projects in Mandurah – Waterline, The Islands at Mariners Cove and The Landings at Mariners Cove – plus The Jetty at Rockingham, just the latest in their developments with marine connections, they do have an understanding of the maritime lifestyle.
“we have a fair affinity for water and water based people, and the Warren Jones fitted in with that.”
Sponsorships like this can be used for a number of different purposes by a company, from a feel-good factor within the organization, to public awareness, and entertaining important clients, potential clients, contractors and other associated companies. By supporting events like the Warren Jones regatta, other companies are motivated to get involved.
Sponsors Bring Sponsors
Amex is a Perth based, family owned property development company, who were persuaded to become a sponsor of the Warren Jones International Youth Regatta, when they saw how much fun Cedar Woods were having with their involvement.
Adam Shepherd explained,
“we got involved five years ago, we were invited down by Cedar Woods, who are another sponsor and Sid Corser was around. I had sailed as a young bloke with Sid’s son, and did a lot of racing about 25 years ago on Mirror dinghies. I spoke to Sid on the day, and said I was interested in becoming a sponsor, then Sid followed us up, and the next year we were a boat sponsor, and have been for the last four years.”
For Adam and his brother Cameron, who have taken over the management of Amex from their father, the sponsorship is partly about putting something back into the sport that gave them so much, and partly about corporate entertaining.
“Amex is a family company, and for my brother and I a lot of it is about putting something back. We took a lot out of sailing when we were young, and this is about us putting something back into the sport, and supporting these young guys who hopefully will go on to bigger and better things. From the corporate point of view we do enjoy the Thursday lunch, and getting our clients and consultants out on our boat afterwards. We lock them in for the afternoon, which is fairly unusual, when you can get your consultants and your bankers and your lawyers to take an entire afternoon off, so it’s about introducing them to the world of sailing as well, so we take a lot of enjoyment out of that.”
Earlier in the week Adam had the opportunity to ride as sixth man on one of the boats during racing, he came ashore with a grin from ear to ear.
“It was fabulous being the sixth man on the boat, it’s the second time I’ve done it now, and we’re going to try and get some of our clients out there. I think if we get our lawyers and bankers doing it we’ll get a bit of excitement in their lives. It certainly is very exciting sitting at the back, and holding on.”
Sailing offers companies of all sizes opportunities to participate. Local companies stand to benefit most from events and events that promote community values and future growth should look to their own backyard to build events.