It’s funny how perceptions work. Yacht racing is seen by some as elitist , whereas NASCAR is seen as a working-man’s sport. But count the number of people working in yacht racing who have private jets versus the number of private jets in NASCAR and the perceptions are reversed.
While America’s Cup teams barely have enough money for wings for their boats, let alone wings to fly their ‘rock-star’ athletes around in, and Class40 competitors are ironically naming their boats ‘Financial Crisis’ – there is still a good argument for aviation brands to sponsor sailing.
As happens with many sponsorship deals, teams on the start line with just the paintwork can get last minute offers. In the final week before the start of the Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR), New Zealand yachtsman Conrad Colman and his Mallorcan co-skipper, Hugo Ramón, did a deal with the Cessna Aircraft Company.
Cessna is designs and manufactures light and midsize business jets, utility turboprops and single-engine aircraft.
Colman’s Akilaria RC2 (which is a Class40 yacht, not a plane, just in case there was any confusion for those living outside the Class40 bubble) – launched as ‘Jasmine Flyer’ at the MEC-TEC yard in Tunisia, has been renamed ‘Cessna Citation’ after the sponsor’s line of business jets.
“I really couldn’t dream this up! It is really excellent news and we are proud to represent Cessna Citation in the Global Ocean Race. The preparation for our round-the-world race is intense and this last minute support and funding enables us to run a first-rate offshore campaign with no compromise.”
Cessna’s Sales Manager for Spain and Europe, Mark Blomfield, says:
“We wish to use the Global Ocean Race and Conrad and Hugo’s participation to reinforce our relationship with the customers and prospective customers of Cessna in Spain and around the world.”
But the real value perhaps comes from technology transfer and R&D. It’s a reason for sailing sponsorship that is gaining momentum through deals like the one between Mike Golding and Gamesa. Wingsail technology will probably see other aviation companies become America’s Cup sponsors.
Blomfield sees a technical crossover between jets and offshore racing yachts:
“Our planes, like the Class40’s in the Global Ocean Race, use the latest generation software for navigational routing and weather analysis. To follow Conrad and Hugo in this adventure will be enthralling.”
This Sunday at 14:00 local time, Conrad Colman, 26 year-old Hugo Ramón and Cessna Citation will cross the GOR startline.