For several years now, the buzz has been about emerging markets and how venues in the Middle East, China and South East Asia would become increasingly important when compared with ‘traditional’ sailing markets. However, there is still a high demand for sailing in Europe and events like the Audi Med Cup are looking to expand their footprint in the region. This comes on top of recent announcements by the America’s Cup World Series that Italy will host two rounds of the ‘World’ calendar.
The Audi Med Cup is as much a branded event as it is a sporting competition and like the Extreme Sailing Series when it was the iShares Cup, the venues are determined as much by sponsorship goals as the right wind conditions.
Nacho Postigo, Technical Director of the Audi MedCup Circuit explains that organisers are looking into changing the format of the series, which currently has four out of five events in the Mediterranean.
“… right now we’re looking into a different route for the 2012 circuit. There might be a regatta in Northern Europe next time.”
Finding venues for sailing competitions is a balancing act between commercial imperatives and the needs of multiple stakeholders including sponsors, but also teams.
“First of all, a new regatta venue needs to provide good sailing conditions. But any venue should also appeal to the criteria desirable to owners and crews, and it must represent an important market to the title sponsor. And last every event has serious logistical requirements, and it needs to fit into the budget.”
There is nothing stopping the series moving away from the eponymous sea that the top TP52 teams have called home for several years. The series could see events held in the Baltic in the future.
“This may happen, why not? There are a couple of interesting options, for example in Germany and Sweden. We have invited some guests from potential host cities, not only from Kiel and Travemünde, which have indicated a strong interest in hosting an Audi MedCup event.
Even if the series does add new venues outside of the Med, the brand will stay the same. The Med Cup represents the history, tradition and culture of the series.
“The MedCup is a strong brand which has been built from firm roots and popularity in the Mediterranean and we do not want to compromise ourselves there. I see us sticking to at least two events held in the Med. But a season opener is most likely to happen again on the Atlantic coast”.
Perhaps against the predictions of some skeptics who thought that the TP52 would be replaced by something else – that rich owners would be come bored and want to campaign the next fashionable big boat – the TP52 remains the weapon of choice for the series, supported by the popular Soto 40 yachts.
Do the number of hulls matter? Probably not. Is there a way to make big monohull racing exciting – you bet.
“We prefer to have these eight truly competitive 52 Series campaigns to just having higher numbers of boats that can’t match the pace on the race course. We are aiming for attractive regattas and want to inspire new owners. The TP 52 is the de facto top monohull class for grand prix racing in the world on the world’s leading regatta circuit. It’s dynamic, challenging and telegenic. And we’ll have more Soto 40 racing in 2012, the pre-entries have already been filed”.
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