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Grand gathering of the clans

Looking forward to next week's World Yacht Racing Forum

Friday December 10th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: Portugal

What is becoming the annual gathering of the yacht racing industry clans is to take place next Tuesday and Wednesday with the World Yacht Racing Forum and for the technically inclined, the Design & Technology Forum. Organised by Informa, this event is must-attend for those in the industry, not just for marketeers and designers but sailors, owners, project managers, equipment suppliers, etc too.

New for this year is the venue, the Estoril Congress Center, in Estoril on the outskirts of Lisbon, famous for its F1 Grand Prix and usefully close to the well known sailing venue of Cascais. Having been held in Monaco for the last two years, Lisbon, is as easy to get to and a cheaper place to stay during decidedly off-season December.

As was the case last year, the event is divided between the World Yacht Racing Forum, which focusses on the commercial side of the sport, while for techies there is the Design & Technology Symposium and beyond this is there is the International Superyacht Coatings Conference. Mmm. 

Event Director James Pleasance says that there are set to be a similar number of delegates as there was last year, ie around the 400 mark. The only downside of the move from Monaco is that this year it won't run alongside the Motorsport Business Forum, but Pleasance says that in the past two years there has not been a lot of overlap and cross-pollenisation between the motor sport and sailing groups as they had hoped.

As mentioned with the WYRF now into its third year, there is now more clarity in its raison d'etre and the topics it covers.  As Pleasance explains: "With the Forum we really focus on the ‘business of yacht racing’ and look at the commercial side of the sport: the appeal of the sport, how to grow the value of sponsorship, what can we learn from other sports, where are the emerging markets, where is the new investment coming from in terms of corporate money, city/government/tourism money – what are the trends?"

They are attempting to stay away from the ISAF bashing and America's Cup controversy (Tom Ehman v Sir Keith Mills) that entertained us in year one. Shame. As Pleasance puts it: "When it comes to rules and regulations and choice of Olympic classes, we leave that to ISAF. This is really a business forum for yacht racing."

Some of the most interesting participants this year including Pau Serracanta who will present the case for Moto GP, which we will be able to use as a benchmark. Last year the equivalent was Nick Fry from the Braun F1 team.

A good one specifically for sailors, Clifford Bloxham, Head of Athlete Representation at Octagon. "He is going to give us an overview how as an individual sailor you can grow your own profile," says Pleasance. "He has represented some of sport’s best know figures and celebrities. So how do you raise sponsorship and how you build your profile and then maintain it when you retire."

Last year there were presentations followed by a panel discussion looking at new media and the success of sailing games. This year the focus of the media debate will be on television and this will include  Michel Masquelier, President of IMG Media and Maria Ferreras, who is YouTube's Head of Partnerships, Southern Europe, Middle East & Africa. It would have been nice to have had one of the people who have been looking specifically at television in the America's Cup, but there is always next year.

The familiar figure of LOCOG Head of Sailing, Rob Andrew, now will be in town on day two to bring us up to speed with the sailing at London 2012. This will be followed by some discussion about the Olympics and again Pleasance hopes this won't turn into a 'bring back the Star/Moth/Tornado' ISAF bashing session. "It is an important subject to air and we have Pierre Ducrey, who is the Head of Sports Operations for the International Olympic Committee. Frankly listening to anyone from the IOC will be refreshing as it will clear up once and for all whether or not the IOC think mixing genders in sport or allowing people to compete who are over 50 are good things.

New for this year is the eco-chat. "It's something we haven’t covered in the past - looking at some of the green issues, for any sport that is becoming more important these days," says Pleasance. 

Following the dust-up in year one, the America's Cup session that rounds of the forum will probably be a must-attend again although once again the organisers are hoping that it will be a study of the commercial implications of the changes being made to the event, rather than, more interestingly, the changes themselves. As Pleasance puts it: "What the forum is interested in is what are the commercial implications of that? What are the opportunities? Why is it going to be better than what went before? How are they going to engage this Facebook generation. How are they going to captivate a wider audience, how are they going to increase the TV and how will be it more exciting? How are they convinced that this is really going to work? And speaking to sponsors – what is the sell?"

For the America's Cup session, the WYRF and the Design and Technology Forum will merge. There are some good people on stage for this and among is Louis Vuitton's Bruno Trouble who will no doubt keep the debate lively.

Tickets are still available here

More details on the topics to be discussed: 

World Yacht Racing Forum

Day One

- Keynote Opening Address - James Spithill, 33rd America's Cup Winning Skipper, BMW Oracle Racing

- How Can Sailing Compete For Sponsorship Against Mainstream Sports?

Panel Discussion, chaired by Richard Moore, CEO, Capitalize with Andrew Pindar OBE, Group Chairman, Team Pindar; Pau Serracanta, Moto GP, Managing Director, Dorna Sports SL; Mark Turner, Executive Chairman, OC Thirdpole

This will cover: What is the demographic profile of the audience that can be reached via sailing sponsorship? How is sailing perceived as a sponsorship/branding platform by the major brands?How can sailing compete for the high media returns required in today's competitive market place? What are the unique 'added value' qualities of sailing to a sponsor?

- Growing the Brand & Profile of a Sports Personality presentation by Clifford Bloxham, Head of Athlete Representation, Octagon

- What Is The Future For Sailing's Premier Events? Chaired by Richard Simmonds, BBC TV Sailing Presenter with Knut Frostad, CEO, Volvo Ocean Race; Eddie Owen, CEO, Royal Offshore Racing Club; Franck David, Director, Multi-One Design Circuit; Jim O'Toole, CEO, World Match Racing Tour;
Luc Talbourdet, President, IMOCA

This will cover: What do you see as the main commercial challenges for the event? What is the plan for the event over the next four years? What would a five million dollar sponsorship investment deliver for a sponsor? What are the unique opportunities that the event can offer? How does the event view the professional future of sailing?

- How can Sailing Events Create Brand Partnerships? Panel discussion chaired by Scott Macleod, CEO, Force 10 Marketing ably assisted by Karin Bäcklund, Director, Global Sponsorship and Brand Partnership, Volvo Car Corporation; Stewart Hosford, CEO, Hugo Boss Sailing; Steve Madincea, Founder & Group Managing Director, PRISM (WPP)

This will cover: What are the key factors that the 'Rights Holder' must deliver to the branding partner? What are the unique brand building qualities that sailing holds over other sports? Where has sailing provided successful long term branding partnerships? What are the corporate hospitality opportunities within sailing?

- Cost Effective Strategies To Grow New Audiences via TV & New Media. Panel discussion chaired by Richard Moore, CEO, Capitalize, with Michel Masquelier, President, IMG Media; Adam Binns, Director of Television, Volvo Ocean Race; Marcus Hutchinson, Communications & Event Management Consultant; Maria Ferreras, Head of Partnerships, Southern Europe, Middle East & Africa, You Tube

This will  cover: How can sailing provide more dynamic and thrilling television presentation? TV Air time - Is it just a question of money? What are the most cost effective media channels to promote sailing events? How can social networking assist in event marketing? How effective is social network marketing in reaching new audiences?

Day Two

- Keynote Opening Address - Loick Peyron, veteran Global Ocean Racer and Multihull Skipper

- How are major cities and venues benefitting from hosting sailing events? Panel discussion chaired by Mark Turner, Executive Chairman, OC ThirdPole with David Graham, CEO, Oman Sail; José Antonio Muñoz, Head of Department, Ministry for Tourism, Trade and Sport, Andalusian Government, Spain; Duarte Nobre Guedes, Presidente, Turismo Estoril; Robert Datnow, Director, The Sports Consultancy

This will cover: Case studies of the economic benefits of hosting sailing events; Event bidding, what are the rights costs associated with event hosting? How can sailing events promote Marine Tourism? Case Studies of the Urban and Marine Regeneration of Ports

- Keynote Presentation: Exclusive Preview of the London 2012 Olympic Games by LOCOG (presumably Rob Andrew) 

- What is the Process to Ensure Sailing's future Olympic Participation? Panel discussion chaired by Richard Simmonds, BBC Sailing Presenter, Managing Director, Sunset & Vine with Jerome Pels, Secretary General, ISAF; Pierre Ducrey, Head of Sports Operations, International Olympic Committee; Shirley Robertson OBE, Double Gold Medallist, Presenter, CNN Mainsail

- Can Sailing Be Promoted As an Environmentally Friendly Sport? Panel debate with Sam Davies, Female Solo Vendee Skipper; Isabelle Jahlan, Head of Sponsorship, Veolia; Dimitri Caudrelier MA, Project Development Director, Quantis; Roland Jourdain, Skipper Veolia Environment, IMOCA 60 Class; Jo Royle, Skipper, Plastiki Project; Enrico Benco, Founder, Go Sailing For a Change

This will cover: What Initiatives have the Industry taken to be Environmentally Friendly? Is sailing the ideal platform to promote "green" brands?
How can sailing events promote Environmental Issues? Case Studies of Successful Environmental Projects?

- The Business of The America's Cup 34? Chaired by Richard Simmonds, BBC Sailing Presenter, Managing Director, Sunset & Vine with
Iain Murray, Regatta Director ACRM (America's Cup Race Management), Mark Bullingham, Marketing Director America's Cup Event Authority;  Loick Peyron, America's Cup Challenger AC 34; Bruno Trouble, Founder, Louis Vuitton Cup Series; Cam Lewis, Veteran Olympic and America's Cup Sailor

This will cover: What is the future for this Iconic Sailing Event? What is the latest update from the challengers & defenders? What are the commercial opportunities for potential sponsors? How will AC34 captivate a wider media audience?

Design & Technology Symposium

Day One

- Keynote Opening Address - Eric Hall, CEO, Hall Spars

- Have ISO structural standards been successfully applied to Race Boat Design? Panel Discussion chaired by Dobbs Davis, Yachting Journalist, YRDTS Presenter with Jason Smithwick, MEng, PhD, Head of ISAF Technical & Offshore Department; Rob Wieland, Class Manager, TP52 Association; Rod Fogg, Principal Engineer, Gurit; Hasso Hoffmeister, Structural engineer, Germanisher Lloyd

This will cover: Has ISO compliance been accepted by the race boat design community? Are the regulations enforceable over such diverse designs and construction processes? What are the latest directives and updates?

- Keynote Presentation by North Sails

- Overcoming challenges to produce a winning multihull design for America's Cup 34, chaired by Dobbs Davis with Manolo Ruiz de Elvira, Racing Design DirectorAC 33, BMW Oracle Racing; Steve Clark, C Class Expert, Winner, Little America's Cup; Andrea Avaldi, AB Structures Advanced Structural Design; Vincent Lauriot Prevost, Naval Architect, VPLP

This will cover:  What Technologies are required in composite multihull construction? What were the technical challenges in building the fixed wing? Are the multihull design plans for AC34 a fair?

- Keynote Presentation: Pushing the 50 knot Speed Barrier - The Hydroptere Project with Alain Thebault, Principal, l'Hydroptere

- Computational Fluid Design v Modelling. Panel Debate with Andy Claughton, Wolfson Unit of University of Southampton; Yann Roux, CEO, K Epsilon; Patrick Shaughnessy, President, Farr Yacht Design; Dr Rodrigo Azcueta, CFD Expert, Cape Horn Engineering

This will cover: Aerofoil testing - Which Method gives the most precise results? CFD or tank testing? From the numerical tank to virtual boat testing; What are the economics of CFD research v tank testing?

- A comparison of Race Boat and Motorsport Composite Technologies? Panel debate chaired by Dobbs Davis with Dan Primrose, CEO, Light Black Design; Andrew Macfarlan, Head of Composites, Red Bull Technologies; Rod Fogg, Principal Engineer, Gurit; Francois Mathieu, Market Development Leader, Dassault Systemes

This will cover: What are the latest developments in automotive technology that could benefit race boat construction? What are the latest advances in Composite Technology? Which new design methods and processes can we take from Formula One?

Day two

- Keynote Opening Address - Bruno Finzi, Chairman, Offshore Racing Congress

- Understanding the complexities of Rating Systems with (yet again) Dobbs Davis with Jason Ker, Founder, Ker Yacht Design; James Dadd, RORC Rating Office; Volker Andreae, President, German Offshore Owners Association; Simon Rogers, Rogers Yacht Design; Nicola Sironi, Chief Measurer, Ocean Racing Council

This will cover: What are the latest developments in rating system? Complex measurement versus simple rating, what is the best balance? Do secret rules work best? How can rating systems keep up with modern design technology? Can a rating system ever be universal?

- Keynote Presentation by North Sails

- Design And Performance Data Management with Simon Holloway, Manager, Cosworth Design; Patrick Shaughnessy, President, Farr Yacht Design;  Jason Ker, Designer, Ker Yacht Design; Sabrina Malpede, Director, SMAR Azure

This will cover: How can meaningful design research be compressed into realistic timescales? Complex measurement versus simple rating, what is the ideal balance? What are the new tools available for performance development? Can One boat testing be successful?

- How Can Design Be Used To Improve Crew Safety & Yacht Efficiency? Chaired by....Dobbs Davis,with Alan Green, Chairman, ISAF International Regulations Commission; Pascal Chadail, Technical President, IMOCA; Richard Besse, Director, Ocean Safety; Dr Mark Tomson, Founder, Medical Support Offshore; James Hall, Special Projects, Spinlock

This will cover: How can ergonomic yacht design improve crew safety? What are the latest developments in race boat safety regulations? What are the latest technological developments in crew safety equipment?

The design and technology forum delegates will then converge with the WYRF for the star-attraction, the America's Cup debate.

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