Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Sport growth

Thinking back to when the 2008/9 Volvo Ocean Race fleet came to Boston in April/May, and recalling the crowds that filled the race village during the weekends, the question is if an opportunity was lost during that occasion. The village was filled with sailors, but also filled with curious non-sailors, either wondering about the event, or just wanting to be at what seemed to be THE bar in Boston atop the PUMA clothing store.

The opportunity, it would seem, is being seized at Cowes Week, this mega UK event that typically attracts around 1,000 yachts and 8,500 competitors. However, in this instance, it is an event for the attending non-racing crowd that deserves to be recognized.

Using the Laser SB3 keelboat, a program has been launched following the racing each day, where members of the public can experience the thrill of the sport. Each SB3 is to be helmed by a qualified skipper, who will teach up to three crew members how to sail, which will be followed by a race against nine other SB3s. All the participant needs is a pair of soft soled shoes; all other essentials including spray tops and buoyancy aids will be provided.

“Cowes Week is an integral part of the British sporting calendar and, as such, it attracts over 100,000 visitors to Cowes,” says Stuart Quarrie, CEO of Cowes Week Limited. “The ‘Come Racing’ programme by LaserPerformance and Pelican Racing is fantastic and means that anyone can get a taste of racing, whether or not they have previous sailing experience.”

This seems like a brilliant idea, and an excellent example of how to seize an opportunity for the growth of the sport.

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