Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Cross marketing the sport

It is one of my contentions that the sport of sailing can gain significant exposure in new markets by taking advantage of celebrity moments. Examples? Invite a prominent city official to participate in your Leukemia Cup Regatta, and you are certain to get the local press to buy in. Or how about Antigua Sailing Week, who have former Duran Duran lead singer Simon Le Bon competing in their event later this month. That kind of story can gain worldwide traction.

The phenomena at the 2008 Olympics, when the press learned how Australian 470 gold medalists Malcolm Page and Nathan Wilmot always named their boats after the star of Nicole Kidman films, and how the actress had called the sailors to wish them luck, swamped the search engines. Even now, seven months later, a search of "’nicole kidman’ + Olympics” produces about 582,000 search results. What if the Aussies had asked Nicole to join them for a photo shoot after the Games? Holy smokes, that would have been in every grocery store tabloid.

Guess what I found on the website of, which is the home of motorsport content on the web? A story about how Firestone Indy Lights team owner Sam Schmidt, who is paralyzed from the chest down, will race out of St. Petersburg Yacht Club aboard a SKUD-18 sailboat April 2 against Jim Guthrie, co-owner of Guthrie Meyer Racing. These two guys competed against each other in the IndyCar Series in the late 1990s, with Guthrie earning the title of Rookie of the Year in 1997. They are known in their sport, and are now taking their audience toward an event in our sport. These are the opportunities that must be marketed hard… is US SAILING listening?

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At 6:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The hypocrisy is that today and this weekend, due to the Grand Prix street racing, NOONE else can use the St Petersburg Sailing Center! Spring is the best time of the year here to sail, but the Friday night Twilight Series has been cancelled, junior sailing practices cancelled, Snipe Sunday sailing cancelled, and public day sailing cancelled. So, forgive me, but I'm not seeing a positive connection between these sports here.

At 4:29 PM, Anonymous Jen French said...

As a member of the St. Petersburg sailing community as well,
it is unfortunatetly that you can not recognize the exposure of the excellent sailing conditions and facilities that this area affords us. It is equally unfortunately that you are unwilling to sacrifice 3 days out of the enjoyable 365 that are available to us. Sailng is a year round activity in St. Petersburg. The Grand Prix gives the City of St. Petersburg's waterfront a world-wide viewing audience. Is this not a benefit to you as a local sailor???

At 6:46 AM, Anonymous Magnus Liljedahl said...

Thank you for making the excellent point (in Scuttlebutt 2814) that we need to cross-pollinate the sport of sailing (we TOTALLY agree with you). This is even more poignant for people with disabilities.

There was one missing link from the posting that should be addressed: a vital component of the event today was Team Paradise, a 501C3 non-profit organization that provides equipment, coaching and sailing opportunities for international athletes with Paralympic ambition.

Some people may ask; Why should we do this? We say, Why not? We have nationally recognized open-wheel auto racers in St. Petersburg for the Honda Grand Prix this weekend. Why not introduce them to an alternative racing vehicle that can easily be adapted to accommodate disabled people. Boats do not recognize disabilities. The use of adaptive equipment equalizes the playing field. This is an excellent occasion for disabled athletes from any sport to realize the opportunity that exists in sailing.

Team Paradise was an integral part in Thursday’s event because they not only provided the paralympic Skud18 boats and adaptive equipment, but also brought in the experienced sailors who helped make it actually come to fruition in extreme (20-25 knots of breeze) conditions - their safety and expertise were invaluable.

St. Petersburg Yacht Club extended their hand of hospitality by providing the race committee, the facilities and the local volunteers - our gratitude cannot go unmentioned. This entire event was the collaboration of these organizations and also the Sam Schmidt Foundation and the City of St. Petersburg Therapeutic Recreation Department. Special thanks to Sam Schmidt for his courageous attitude and willingness and determination to conquer new endeavors. --

At 4:19 PM, Blogger smithies said...

Dear anonymous,as a long time competeitor in the St Pete ,Tampa area i cannot believe that you can use the word hypocrisy for this weekends events regarding taking a severly disabled ex car racer sailing for the first time in his life , i have another word for yourself and your views ,"MYOPIC" .
You also conveniently did not let the scuttlebutt readers know that the same weekend St Pete yacht club held SunCoast race week , three days of racing around the bay and the gulf starting off the pier NEXT to the Honda grand prix , could you not have availed yourself to this because 34 boats did , instead you choose to moan and groan about missing one weekends twilight series , three more words for you sir,SELFISH SELFISH SELFISH .
20 good hearted souls spent many hours to give Sam a 40 or so minute experience that he had never had before ,was it worth it ? absolutely !!signed phil smithies

At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to clarify: Simon Le Bon is still very much the lead singer of Duran Duran. He is taking a break from recording their latest album in order to participate in Antigua Sailing week. I found this blog when I googled Simon Le Bon + Antigua Sailing Week.


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