New events take time to build, and that’s in markets where sailing has been established as a professional sport for decades. Luckily, in many of the markets where sailing is emerging as a sport, long term goals are backed by government will and investment, so slow growth is able to be absorbed.
The America’s Cup and other high profile sailing events including a few “World Championships” have been criticised for failing to attract fleets of more than single figures. The finger of blame is pointed at high costs and too few resources allocated to too many events competing for those resources.
Sailing Arabia – The Tour has just finished it’s ‘tricky third album’. The event doesn’t have high costs – certainly not when compared to other events that cover four countries – but it is a regional event in a new market for the sport, which may go some way to explaining why only 9 teams took part in the 3rd edition of the event.
It has been amazing. We have had some really interesting conversations in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar, so I’m looking forwards to seeing who will be on the start line next year. And the media-side has gone amazingly well.
I am also particularly pleased that an Omani vision for the region, designed and managed this event, and we were able to get a prestigious international bank to put their confident in them and this race. By every possible measure this year’s EFG Bank Sailing Arabia – The Tour has been an outstanding success and significant strides have been made towards our vision of encouraging the growth of sailing across the region and reigniting the rich maritime heritage of the Gulf.
Attending the final prize giving at The Wave, Muscat this afternoon was event sponsor George Catsiapis, Managing Director of EFG Bank (Monaco). He commented:
“It was a stressful race with boats going aground – Abu Dhabi was the first victim and in a way they were the winners of the race because they showed the morale to come back and finish off the race. But it is the mixture of top international skippers and GCC sailors that is fantastic.”
The EFG Bank Sailing Arabia – The Tour has a number of objectives. The event is one of the only sporting competitions where the GCC countries compete against each other at the same time. The Tour’s goals mirror the organiser’s – Oman Sail is partly about the development of sailing, but also about the promotion of marine infrastructure and tourism.
The Tour visits Doha, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Dibba and Mussanah before ending at Muscat and has received good media coverage in local press including the Oman Daily Observer (Oman), The National, Gulf News and Khaleej Times (UAE) and The Peninsula (Qatar).
The Omani backed sailing season continues next week with the opening round of the 2013 Extreme Sailing Series.