What is the best yacht racing event in the UK? Is it the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race or Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week? What are the criteria for making such a judgement? Should the two events be compared to each other?
The answers to such questions ultimately depend on your point of view, and our point of view is one that mixes competitiveness with commercial value. From where we sit, the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, which has always been a great event, has stepped it up a notch, and in 2011 promises to be the greatest yacht racing event in the UK.
During the launch of the 80th Edition of the RTIR this week in London, promoters claimed that the race around the Isle of Wight is the largest (non-running) participation event in the UK. Comparisons with events like the London Marathon are useful because while both events draw many amateurs, raising money for charity and ‘having a go’, at the front of the field are athletes who want to win.
The Island Sailing Club and JP Morgan Asset Management have played up the human interest and charity angle of the race in recent years, but at this launch, it was nice to see the winners up on stage. As Loick Peyron said in a speech to the yacht racing industry in December; there is a difference between sailing around the world in 3 months and sailing around the world in 5 or 6 months. Similarly, those who sail around the Isle of Wight in 3 hours should be seen as a class apart from those who complete the course in 8 hours.
While the London Marathon has a million good stories, the headline is usually who won the mens and womens race. The Round the Island Race might be a race for everybody, but it is still a race and sometimes, the headlines have been about where a celebrity finished rather than who won the race, so it is great to see the winners of the Gold Roman Bowl recognised.
So the Round the Island Race is a fantastic sporting challenge as well as mechanism to raise money for charity, but it is also a pretty good deal for sponsors. Unlike Cowes Week, which spreads itself over 9 days, the RTIR is a concentrated opportunity to reach a desirable, targeted audience of over 8,000 people – and that’s just the competitors. Add some media value on top and you have a very interesting marketing proposition.
As well as JP Morgan Asset Management, the race is sponsored by Volvo, Raymarine and Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Paul Kerr, CEO of SLH says:
This is a perfect fit for our audience. Our guests have boats and the people who sail in this race are like-minded people that we see in our hotels around the world. It’s also personal – I sail and the charitable element is a bonus too.
Round the Island 80th Anniversary Photo Exhibition
2011 marks the 80th year of the Round the Island Race. The message is that the more things change, the more they stay the same and the history of the race has been brought together in a stunning photographic exhibition to mark the occasion.
Photos from Frank and Keith Beken, Alistair Black and Eileen Ramsay who captured the Race from the 1930s through to the 1960s up to the more recent work of Ken Beken, Peter Mumford, Rick Tomlinson, Thierry Martinez, Hamo Thornycroft, Paul Wyeth, Patrick Eden, Mark Lloyd, Cristel Clear and onEdition are included.
But the exhibition is not just about the history of the Round the Island Race. The photos capture the changes in boat design and photographic techniques.
The Exhibition will be shown on the Isle of Wight at the Quay Arts Gallery (14-19 June) and in the Race Village, Cowes Yacht Haven (24-26 June) over the Race weekend. Exhibition images are available for purchase, with proceeds being donated to the Official Race Charity, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.