Friday, December 12, 2008

Cayard on World Yacht Racing Forum

By Paul Cayard - World Yacht Racing Forum

Over the past two days, I attended the inaugural World Yacht Racing Forum in Monaco. The first thing of note was the representation of sailing that the event brought together. To name a few people and organizations; Goran Petterson - President of ISAF, Mark Turner President of Offshore Challenges (which runs the Barcelona World Race, iShares Extreme 40 Series and Ellen MacArthur's projects), Knut Frostad - CEO Volvo Ocean Race, the managers of the TP 52 MedCup, representatives of Alinghi and BMW Oracle, the top sailing journalists, respresentatives of Sail Oman, UBS, Pindar, Slam, Audi, St. Francis YC, Royal Hong Kong YC, RYA, the Monsoon Cup, Yachting Korea, Sir Keith Mills who co-chaired London 2012 andᅠ the list goes on! A few decent sailors were on hand too including Ben Ainslie, Shirley Robertson, Sofia Bekatorou, Ian Williams, Peter Gilmour, Brad Butterworth, Alex Thompson, Cam Lewis and more.

I don't know if a collection of people representing this much fire power in the sport of sailing has ever been in one room for two days. This was clearly the first achievement.

The agenda was varied from singlehanded racing, to the evolution of the Volvo Ocean Race as well as important marketing panels with the sponsors taking the stage. And yes, there was even a panel on the future of the America's Cup, and more. Peter Montgomery did a great job of moderating the event.

I am still digesting the forum. A huge amount of information was dispensed in just two days. Not sure if we fixed anything yet, but what a great idea to get these people together exchanging points of view. To hear from developers in Oman what they are looking for in a sailboat race or learn to sail program was fascinating. Or to hear from Annemarie Meyer of UBS, how many new and different ways there are to activate a sailing sponsorship was heartening.

We obviously have to get the pinnacle event of our sport back on the water and unfortunately, logic is not prevailing on those who have the "ball". So it is clear that, for the long term, we have to get the "ball" out of the hands of self interested individuals and into the hands of someone, or some group, who puts the event first.ᅠᅠI think I have heard that somewhere before!

I would say the forum was a success and the next one will be even better building on the experience gained here.

Cayard Sailing Website