International yacht club meet
Yacht club operators across the world congregated at the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, Perth, Western Australia, to hold their 5th Commodores Forum to meet and share their experience and views. Peter Gilmour, Acting President of the World Match Racing Tour was invited to present what the Tour has learnt and specifically the Monsoon Cup, Malaysia in running commercial events. The main objective of the forum was to discuss how different yacht clubs manage their services and what they can do better.
Gilmour strongly endorsed the role that yacht clubs play in events, however he contemplated that clubs looking to host commercial sailing events without wanting to take the risk of affecting their core business can set up a separate entity to do so.
He said that most yacht clubs were not originally established by their members to organise commercial events. “However, they can establish a separate entity with a Board of Directors as event promoters capable of taking on risk, establishing a balance sheet, seeking commercial partners and making contracts for service”
With such a structure in place, the yacht clubs can then leverage the benefits of a commercial event. He elaborated that, “Some of the biggest yacht clubs in the world have been successful in organising such events with an entity set up alongside their usual operations.”
He talked about the role of yacht clubs in commercial sailing events where he drew a distinction between what is considered “commercial” and what is not – this is dependent on the amount of risk the yacht clubs are willing to take.
For instance, if a yacht club’s turnover is say USD5 million per annum, then the board of management and club members are most likely going to risk say 10 percent on a sailing event and this then limits the size and scope of the event. In defining commercial sailing events he indicated a budget of USD 500,000 and above was the benchmark.
During his presentation, Gilmour talked about the Monsoon Cup and how it was conducted, as well as revealing the World Match Racing Tour structure including the 2010 Tour schedule. He also explained the Tour’s ambitious growth plans for expanding its capacity.
He highlighted that an important component of world-class events is drawing a significant crowd to justify the importance of televising the event and went into a more detailed explanation of the key drivers behind the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia. Gilmour elaborated on the growth in both domestic and international tourism and the important role sports tourism is now playing in society as well as the critical part that government play in assisting commercial events.
At the forum attended by key personnel from yacht clubs all over the world, Gilmour reiterated the important role the top sailors have in representing themselves and being the brand ambassadors for the event that is being hosted. “With significant sailors at these events the importance of presenting them to the public as celebrities is something that yacht clubs really need to embrace and pay careful attention to.”
“The interest of the yacht club community to seek significant expansion into various different commercial areas is amazing! Currently, there is tremendous interest from all over the world on running commercial sailing events and how to run such businesses better. I was really impressed with the knowledge, capability and desire to improve in a range of areas.”
This is the fifth year the forum has been held and it is something that the International Council of Yacht Clubs has done to get participants up to speed and compare notes with their peers in the industry. “There is still much more that can be done and I am excited to see so many yacht clubs considering how they can learn from each other and outside events,” Gilmour said.
It was exciting to see the 6th Commodores Forum for the ICOYC will be held at the Seattle yacht Club in September 2011.