Following the inaugural World Yacht Racing Forum held in December last year, the event instantaneously became an embedded part of the industry’s calendar. Held, once again, in the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco, on 9th-10th December, the event ran alongside the Yacht Racing Design and Technology Symposium: a combination that provided an exceptional variety of delegates.
Organised by a division of Informa Plc – owners of The Monaco Yacht Show; the Abu Dhabi Yacht Show; the Phuket International Boat Show and the Mediterranean and Caribbean Superyacht Cups – the WYRF carries immense gravitas and attracts all the key players in the yacht racing industry. The event has also proved to be a unique platform for sharing knowledge and skills covering every aspect of yacht racing. It is fair to comment that anyone involved in the yachting industry ignores this invaluable conference at their peril.
From the upbeat and frank, opening address by Richard Moore, CEO of Capitalize – a company that advises businesses on maximising sponsorship, PR and events – the quality and delivery of information was exceptional and totally absorbing with specialists in new media and branding and experts in methods of calculating return on investment in yachting events clearly illustrated how yacht racing can be improved for competitors and spectators.
Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, was one of the keynote speakers on the second day of the WYRF and supplied invaluable insight into the mechanics behind this highly successful event and shared the stage with Josh Hall, Race Director of the Global Ocean Race, in a debate on methods of cutting overall costs in yacht racing: a discussion that raised the tricky issue of capping salaries for competitors. While the Volvo Ocean Race and the Global Ocean Race are entirely different events and only share a few similarities, the exchange of views with a panel that included Denis Horeau, Race Director of the Barcelona World Race, was extremely revealing.
While the main media interest at the WYRF centred around the final debate on Friday with America’s Cup issues confronted by Russell Coutts from *BMW Oracle Racing* and Brad Butterworth of Alinghi sharing the stage for 45 minutes, the effects of the conference will undoubtedly become felt as techniques, ideas, encouragement and criticism provided by experts from outside and from within the sport of yacht racing are acted upon and activated.
The lasting impression from the WYRF is that – despite the current economic climate – yacht racing is healthy and flourishing, although the sport must rapidly evolve and grasp new techniques and technologies, while a shift in presentation and image must be quickly confronted.