The World Match Racing Tour has made a strategic decision to leverage emerging sailing markets to drive growth of the tour and the sport of sailing. The Korea Match Cup is a newcomer to the tour, but has significant support from the local community and a young, leisure sailing market that will only get bigger.
Not only does the Korea Match Cup provide a sporting event that receives huge national and international coverage, there is a legacy element that trains new Korean sailors and positions Korea for the future of international sailing events like the America’s Cup.
Like many successful sailing events, the Korea Match Cup is driven by an entrepreneurial promoter. Dong-Young Kim is the kind of person that sailing needs. The World Match Racing Tour spoke to him:
WMRT: You started the Korea Match Cup back in 2008. What were your reasons for launching the event?
Dong-Young Kim: Back in 1999 I went to New Zealand when the America’s Cup was on. I was surprised at the scale of the event and how good it was. I thought that it would be great to have an event like that in Korea to develop the skill levels of sailing as well as the boat-building industry. After that I couldn’t stop dreaming about hosting a big sailing event in Korea.
WMRT: The 2008 Korea Match Cup was a success but it must have been a lot of hard work to pull off?
Dong-Young Kim: It wasn’t an easy operation at all. We didn’t have any marina here in Jeongok so it was a big challenge. To be honest I couldn’t see what the future of the event would be at that point. We just thought we would see how we got on, taking one step at a time. We put in temporary pontoons and it was a great success. After the 2009 Korea Match Cup the Government built a proper marina here, and that really cemented the future of the event. We enjoy strong support from the Government now, they are keen to see sailing develop.
WMRT: What is your role in the project?
Dong-Young Kim: I am a sailor and a boat builder. In Korea we are so far behind other countries in terms of our sailing industry so it was my belief that by hosting a major sailing event we could boost Korean sailing. I see myself as a kind of ambassador for Korean sailing, I’m doing what I can to develop it and the Korea Match Cup is the foundation of that.
WMRT: Has the Korea Match Cup had the desired impact on Korean sailing?
Dong-Young Kim: Yes absolutely. Looking back to 2008 Korea didn’t have a match racing team at all. After we hosted the 2008 Korea Match Cup sailing clubs all over the country had their own match racing teams. Thanks to this event sailing schools all over Korea are booming. After last year’s event I had about 6,000 young people coming to the sailing school here in Hwaseong City as a direct result of the Korea Match Cup.
WMRT: What is your vision for the future of the event?
Dong-Young Kim: The Korea Match Cup will get bigger and better each year. Yesterday Busan Match Team, the Korean entry at the Korea Match Cup, won their first race here which is a great achievement. For them to be able to compete against the world’s top match racers is very special and gives them a great opportunity to learn and improve. It’s also great for the young sailors who now have a dream, something to aspire to. The Korea Match Cup really is the foundation for the development of Korean sailing.
WMRT: You are now involved in the Korean ‘White Tiger’ America’s Cup project. Is that a direct result of the Korea Match Cup?
Dong-Young Kim: Definitely. The success of the Korea Match Cup has given us a starting point to think about entering a national team in the America’s Cup.