One suspects that the debate over who the audience is for the sport of yacht racing will go on for a while. There are those who are worried that younger generations might not sign up to the traditional perceptions of sailing. There are others though, who are comfortable with the prestigious, exclusive elements of sailing. While the America’s Cup seems to be abandoning segmentation in favour of a mass-market (down-market?) product, brands who want to promote to a desirable, wealthy elite have other events at their disposal.
The Financial Times (FT), is clear about the kind of sailors they want to associate with. The business media brand has teamed up with Wally yachts to launch the FT Wally Grand Prix Series which includes the Nespresso Cup.
Papers in general are struggling to get their business models right in a new world of apps and digital devices, but the FT knows a thing or two about advertising and sponsorship. They also know their audience. FT Weekend Editor Caroline Daniel, said:
‘We are delighted to partner with Wally on the FT Wally Grand Prix Series. Maxi yacht racing engages our readers at numerous levels, be it the competition, innovation and excitement of the boats and the races or equally to understand what drives the global business leaders who participate in the sport. Maxi yacht racing is the only arena in which top businessmen and top sportsmen compete side by side, so the series is a natural fit for FT Weekend.’
The next event in the series will be the second edition of the Nespresso Cup – an exclusive, branded event designed to produce iconic images and a controllable brand experience. Eight Wally yachts representing a diverse range of these unmistakable sleek and stylish yachts will be gathering in the beautiful harbour of Portofino.
Following the announcement last week that Nespresso would sponsor Emirates Team New Zealand, Grant Dalton will join other Nespresso ambassadors at the event including Loick Peyron and Sam Davies.
The Nespresso Cup for Wally Yachts is a kind of yacht porn. The beautifully styled boats, while modern, seem a million miles away from the hard wing sails and twin hulls of Emirates Team New Zealand’s AC45.
Esense at 44m (143ft) is the largest Wally yacht to be competing with the 24m (80ft) Inti and Ryokan 2 at the other end of the scale. Indio, Y3K, Dark Shadow, Kenora and last year’s Nespresso Cup victors Magic Carpet2 complete the entry list.
Wally founder, Luca Bassani, commented:
“The flexibility we have is great, because we can have races at the right moment in the right wind and you don’t have to have a start just because there are other classes. Having three or four days only for you, you can wait for the right weather window to have the best races. It is like it used to be in the golden age of the Maxis in the 1980s when the Maxis were sailing by themselves with their own race committee and courses and they were really having fantastic racing. The sponsor in this case doesn’t remain someone far away, they are part of the competition. I think everyone is very, very happy about the event.”
FT Wally Grand Prix Series Calendar of Events
- April 20-24 – Palma de Mallorca, Spain PalmaVela
- May 6-8 – Portofino, Italy Nespresso Cup
- June 7-11 – Porto Cervo, Italy Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta
- September 2-10 – Porto Cervo, Italy Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup
- September 27-October 1 – St Tropez Voiles de St Tropez